Gurkha soldiers win legal battle to settle in Britain

September 30th, 2008 - 10:34 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Sep 30 (DPA) Gurkha veterans who fought for Britain Tuesday won a landmark legal battle to be allowed to settle in Britain following a High Court ruling on immigration rights.Six claimants representing Gurkha veterans in Britain won a judicial review test case against the government which overturned a 2004 ruling that excluded former Gurkha soldiers who retired before 1997 from settling in Britain.

“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 group’s lawyer said Tuesday.

“It is a victory for common sense; a victory for fairness; and a victory for the British sense of what is ‘right’.”

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

The High Court judge ruled Tuesday that Britain had a “moral debt of honour” to the Gurkhas, who had served Britain unswervingly for almost 200 years.

The Gurkhas, who take their name from the hill town of Gorkha, the birthplace of the Nepalese kingdom, have fought on behalf of Britain since the end of the two-year Gurkha War in 1816.

Almost 50,000 Gurkhas have died in action and 150,000 have been seriously injured in the service of the British Army.

A 2004 government decision said that Gurkhas who retired before July, 1997, were not automatically entitled to British settlement rights as their base was then in Hong Kong.

It moved to Britain following the handover of Hong Kong in 1997.

For those who left the Army before 1997 individual settlement cases had to be decided by visa officials.

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