Wednesday, September 02, 2009

CLARITY ON CITIZENSHIP (Indian of Sikkimese Origin)

from Sikkim Online

Indian of Sikkimese Origin

On 26th April 1975, Sikkim was appointed as 22nd state of India. On that day, Sikkim Citizens, Subject holder (Sikkimese) became Indian Citizen according to “Sikkim (Citizenship) Order, 1975” which says “Every person who immediately before the 26th day of April, 1975 was a Sikkim Subject under the Sikkim Subject Regulation 1961, shall be deemed to have become a citizen of India on that day”. As the Indian Constitution does not provide dual citizenship and there exist only citizenship for the whole of country, therefore, the regulation which provided Sikkim Citizenship (Subjects) commonly known as “Sikkim Subject Regulation Act, 1961” was repealed on 13th Sep 1975 according to “Adaptation of Sikkim Laws (No.1) Order” power conferred by clause (l) of Article 371-F of the Constitution which took effect from 26th April 1975 (appointed day). A million dollar question arises here. Who were Sikkim Subjects pre-merger? The answer lies in here that before the promulgation of Sikkim Subject Regulation Act, 1961, there were no proper data of Sikkim domicile or regulation which regulated Sikkim Subjects. People from neighboring areas freely and easily settled here. According to Article VII (1) of Indo-Sikkim Treaty, 1950, citizen of both countries were provided free movement on each other’s territory and Article VII (2) (a) (b) permitted the citizen of both countries to carry trade, commerce and right to hold property on each other’s territory.

Hence, for verification and to provide proper documentation and domicile to its citizen, “Sikkim Subject Regulation Act, 1961” was promulgated by the 11th Chogyal, Sir Tashi Namgyal on 3rd July, 1961. Initially, when the Act was drafted, there was a public outcry against the Act, as it did not include the majority section. But finally, the controversy was soon over as the Act was later amended on 1962 which provided with Sikkim Citizenship to every rightful citizens of Sikkim.

Likewise, section 3 of the Act provided Sikkim Subject, which said:
Certain persons domiciled in Sikkim Territory at, the Commencement of the Regulation to be Sikkim subjects-

(1) Every person who has his domicile in the territory of Sikkim immediately before the commencement of this Regulation shall be a Sikkim Subject if he-

(a) was born in the territory of Sikkim and is resident therein, or

(b) has been ordinarily resident in the territory of Sikkim for the period of not less then fifteen years immediately preceding such commencement: Provided that in counting the said period of fifteen years any absence from the said territory on account of service under the Government of India shall be disregarded; or

(c) is the wife or minor child of a person mentioned in clause (a) or clause (b):

Provided that a person shall not be a Sikkim subject under this section unless he makes a declaration to the effect that he is not a citizen of any other country at the time of inclusion of his name in the register of Sikkim subjects to be maintained under this Regulation:

These were the guidelines and criteria lay under the Regulation to become a Sikkim subject or let say “Sikkimese”. Sikkim’s Citizenship was given to all, regardless of race, caste, creed and color. No where at the Regulation, it was written that Sikkim Citizenship will be provided only to the hills men and not to the plainsmen. This Act was one of the most impartial laws in the history of Sikkim. This Act was a choice to be Sikkimese. Some didn’t opt to be Sikkimese then as they didn’t surrender the citizenship of their parent country, which was one of the criteria to acquire the Sikkimese Citizenship.

Though, Sikkim Subject Regulation Act, 1961 has been repealed after the merger with the Indian Union as mentioned above, Today, the descendent of then Sikkimese are provided with Certificate of Identification. Today, we, every descendent of Sikkimese Subjects are an Indian of Sikkimese origin. Today, we are Sikkimese not because we were born here, but because our fore fathers had the right and choose to be one.

It is true; Part III of the Indian Constitution “Fundamental Rights” provides equal rights to every citizen of India. Having said that, at the same time Part XXI of the Constitution also provides special provision to certain areas and its people. Likewise, Sikkim and its people (Sikkimese) have been provided with special provision under Article 371-F of the Indian Constitution.

Article 371-F was included in the Indian Constitution according to 36th Amendment Act in the year 1975, which were the condition and an agreement between the people of Sikkim and the Indian Union for the merger. In the same manner, Article 371-F (k) protects old laws of Sikkim. Under the same, according to Government Service rule 4(4) 1974, only locals (Sikkimese) are recruited at Government job which falls under the state list of the seventh schedule of the Constitution. Non-Sikkimese isn’t allowed to hold property at rural areas, along with few more safeguards. Regardless today, Sikkimese or Non-Sikkimese, every Indian Citizen can pursue Central Government jobs here in Sikkim, carry out trade, business or run a company and many more.

Sikkim, post merger with the Indian Union has lost more, than compared to what we have gained with respect to Article 371-F. We’ve lost our Nation; we’ve lost our nationality, lost our identity, majority Sikkimese lost their seats in assembly. Its very pity that our politicians still plays the politics of “Sikkim Subject”, which unfortunately many Sikkimese are not aware that “Sikkim Subject Regulation Act, 1961” itself was repealed way back on 1975 which regulated the Sikkim Subjects. All these can’t be compared with any amount of money flow or virtual development done by the Central Government. Democracy in Sikkim has been written with the blood of Sikkim mother’s bravest son Martyr Basant Kumar Chettri and sacrifices done by many more unknown heroes.

Though today, every Sikkimese is proud to call him/her self’s Indian, so do I. The feeling “We are Indian” should not flush out from the hearts and mind of Sikkimese people for a larger perspective. But it is mainly in the hands of Union Government and as well as Local Government for how long this feeling and perception remains in the heart and mind of the Indian of the Sikkimese origin.

Nawin Kiran,
Working President,
All Sikkim Educated Self Employed & Unemployed Association,