Sikkim Assembly passes resolution seeking clarification from Centre on Sikkimese definition in Finance Act

Gangtok: 2 BJP leaders resigned from the primary membership of the party in protest against the alleged dilution of Article 371F following the enactment of the Finance Act

BY | Monday, 10 April, 2023
(PC: facebook @Prem Singh Tamang-Golay)

The Sikkim Assembly on Monday passed a resolution seeking clarification from the Centre on the expansion of the definition of Sikkimese in the recently passed Finance Act, 2023.

The House adopted the resolution by a voice vote during a day-long session convened to discuss the matter.

As soon as House assembled, Education Minister Lunga Nima Lepcha tabled the resolution with permission from Speaker Arun Upreti.

Dramatic scenes were witnessed as Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) supremo and former chief minister Pawan Kumar Chamling was marshalled out of the House for disrupting Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang’s reply.

Later, addressing a press conference, the CM asserted that the rights of the Sikkimese people have not been compromised in any way and that Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has clarified that the expansion of the Sikkimese definition was only for Income Tax exemption.

“What are we supposed to lose if the old settlers and their descendants get exemption from Income Tax?” he said.

Article 371F has remained untouched in Finance Act, which is an amendment to the Income Tax Act, 1961.

Tamang said he has suggested that the Speaker establish an all-party delegation, which will meet representatives of the Centre to seek clarification on the expansion of the definition of Sikkimese.

Read more: Sikkimese feel betrayed as Article 371F violation’: Chamling

JAC Gen Secy attacked while mobilising people for a peaceful rally against the expansion of definition of Sikkimese people in the Union Finance Act, 2023

He said 14 people have been arrested so far for their involvement in recent violence in Singtam, in which a Joint Action Council office-bearer was injured in an attack while he was mobilising people to bring out a protest rally against the Finance Act.

CM Prem Singh Tamang took to social media after the session and wrote, “A one-day special session of the Sikkim Legislative Assembly concluded with the adoption and passing of Government Resolution No.2 of 2023, “Clarification of clause (iv) and clause (v) of section 10 (26AAA) of the Income Tax Act, 1961 as inserted by Finance Act, 2023 (No.8 of 2023). Additionally, I requested the Hon’ble Speaker to constitute an All-Party Committee to oversee and deliberate on the aforementioned Government Resolution extensively.”

Meanwhile, two BJP leaders — S B Karki and Laten Sherpa resigned from the primary membership of the party in protest against the alleged dilution of Article 371F following the enactment of the Finance Act.

Sherpa had contested the lone Lok Sabha seat from Sikkim in 2019 on a BJP ticket, while Karki was the vice-president of the party’s state unit.

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