Former Chief Minister of Sikkim, Pawan Kumar Chamling, raised concerns about the potential erosion of the state’s unique legal provisions, particularly Article 371f, with the implementation of the Registration of Births and Deaths (Amendment) Act, 2023. Addressing the gathering on the occasion of his 73rd birthday said “After October 1, when the Registration of Birth and Death Amendment Bill, 2023, takes effect, we will lose Rule 44, Land Revenue Order No. 1, and Article 371f, along with old laws of Sikkim. The very spirit of Article 371f will vanish.”
One of the primary concerns raised by Chamling is the potential impact on the status of those born in Sikkim who do not belong to the state’s native population. He said, “there are more than 3 lakh working-class individuals in Sikkim who are not native Sikkimese. Their offspring, numbering over 1 lakh, are born in Sikkim. With the implementation of the new act, these individuals will become eligible for job opportunities and medical seats that were previously reserved exclusively for Sikkimese natives. In essence, they will be placed on equal footing with the Bhutia Lepcha community of Sikkim.”
Furthermore, Chamling criticized the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha government for its silence on the Registration of Births and Deaths (Amendment) Act, 2023. He questioned the government’s indecision and stated, “The Sikkim government is not addressing the bill at all. The state government should be held responsible, and we seek answers. Was it not the duty of the government to safeguard Article 371f?”
The Registration of Births and Deaths (Amendment) Act, 2023, which was passed by the Parliament during the Monsoon Session earlier this year, is set to come into force on October 1.
This act introduces several significant changes, including the use of a birth certificate as a standalone document for various purposes such as admission to educational institutions, issuance of driving licenses, preparation of voter lists, obtaining Aadhaar numbers, registering marriages, and securing government jobs.
The Registration of Births and Deaths (Amendment) Bill, 2023, was initially presented by Minister of State Nityanand Rai during the Parliament’s Monsoon Session, sparking debates and concerns about its implications for Sikkim’s unique legal framework. As the implementation date approaches, stakeholders continue to engage in discussions and deliberations to address the potential consequences of this legislative amendment.