Tabled in the parliament by Union Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, on February 1, 2023, the bill included 64 official amendments and was passed by the lower house, Lok Sabha, on March 24 and was sent to the upper house, Rajya Sabha. Owing to the disruptions by the opposition in both the houses of the parliament the government had passed the Bill without any discussions.
Out of 64 official amendments, one of the amendments has attracted controversy and criticism in Sikkim to the extent some political and Non-political outfits has demanded the resignation of Indra Hang Subba, the lone Lok Sabha Member of Parliament from Sikkim.
The Bill, now Finance Act 2023, which was tabled in the Parliament on February 1, 2023, by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman among other amendments proposed to amend Section 10 Clause 26AAA of the Finance Act thus extending Income Tax exemptions to the Sikkimese, Sikkimese being
(i) an individual, whose name is recorded in the register maintained under the Sikkim Subjects Regulation, 1961 read with the Sikkim Subject Rules, 1961 (hereinafter referred to as the “Register of Sikkim Subjects”), immediately before the 26th day of April, 1975; or
(ii) an individual, whose name is included in the Register of Sikkim Subjects by Virtue of the Government of India Order No. 26030/36/90-I.C.I., dated the 7th August, 1990 and Order of even number dated the 8th April, 1991, or,
(iii) any other individual, whose name does not appear in the Register of Sikkim Subjects, but it is clearly established beyond doubt that the name of such individual’s father or husband or paternal grand-father or brother from the same father has been recorded in that register; or
(iv) any other individual, whose name does not appear in the register of Sikkim Subjects but it is established that such individual was domiciled in Sikkim on or before the 26th day of April, 1975; or,
(v) any other individual, who was not domiciled in Sikkim on or before the 26th day of April, 1975, but is established beyond doubt that such individual’s father or husband or paternal grand-father or brother from the same father was domiciled in Sikkim on or before the 26th day of April, 1975.
This amendment had come after Supreme Court’s judgement of January 13, 2023 in AOSS vs Union of India case wherein the top court had directed Indian Government to make provisions to extend IT Exemptions also to the old settlers of Sikkim who meets the prescribed cutoff date. Various political and non-political outfits have come out against the amendment saying that it has expanded the definition of term Sikkimese and is a direct blow to Article 371 F that provides special provisions to Sikkim and protects its old laws.
Sikkim Chief Minister, PS Tamang, has announced on Friday that a special session of Sikkim Legislative Assembly (SLA) is to be called on April 10, 2023, and is largely being speculated that the session is being called to discuss the Finance Bill, now Act, 2023.