Gurkhas win battle against British government

September 30th, 2008 - 10:29 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Sep 30 (IANS) The British government said it will review all cases of Gurkha ex-soldiers who have been denied the right to live in Britain after a London court Tuesday ruled in favour of a group of retired Gurkhas. The six Gurkhas were challenging immigration rules which say that those who retired from the British Army before 1997 did not have an automatic right to stay.

Hundreds of Gurkhas packed the London High Court chamber where the judge, Justice Blake, declared the Gurkhas’ long service, conspicuous acts of bravery and loyalty to the British Crown all pointed to a “moral debt of honour” and gratitude felt by British people.

He ruled that instructions given by the Home Office to immigration officials were unlawful and needed urgent revision.

Laywer Martin Howe said: “Today we have seen a tremendous and historic victory for the gallant Gurkha veterans of Nepal. This is a victory that restores honour and dignity to deserving soldiers who faithfully served in Her Majesty’s armed forces.”

The Gurkhas in this test case represented approximately 2,000 others who were refused entry because the government said they had failed to demonstrate “strong ties” to the Britain.

Prominent supporter, actress Joanna Lumley, who at one stage had threatened to return her British citizenship in favour of India - the country of her birth - said it was a “chance to right a great wrong”.

The regiment moved its main base from Hong Kong to the UK in 1997 after the handover of the territory to China and the government had argued that Gurkhas discharged before that date were unlikely to have strong residential ties with Britain.

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