Monday, the High Court in London set aside controversial amendments to immigration rules and their retrospective application and directed the British Government to honor its original commitments under the Highly Skilled Migrant Program (HSMP), reports say.

The High court was hearing a petition relating to controversial changes that were made recently to immigration rules and their retrospective application. It related specifically to changes that affected the migrants' right to settle in Britain.

Under the original scheme, highly-skilled migrants could claim British residency after four years. Later, the eligibility requirement was raised to five years and this was being sought to be applied with retrospective effect.

In her landmark judgment, Mrs. Justice Cox, upheld the contention in a petition moved by the HSMP Forum, a campaign group, that the changes were unfair. She said she was unable to identify a sufficient public interest to justify a departure from the original rules.

She agreed with a judgment in which Sir George Newman ruled in April 2008 that the terms of the original scheme should be honored and that there is no good reason why those already on the scheme shall not enjoy the benefits of it as originally offered to them.

The petitioners had argued that while the government had the right to apply the new criteria to migrants wanting to enter Britain in future, those who were already here should continue to be governed by rules that operated when they arrived. The government, they pointed out, was going ahead with the change despite Sir George's ruling that it must honor the original terms of the migrants' visas.

The ruling is a significant victory for thousands of Indian migrants affected by controversial changes that were made recently to immigration rules.

Amit Kapadia, executive director of the HSMP Forum, hailed the ruling as a landmark victory and hoped the Home Office would stop dragging its feet on the matter.

Instead of addressing the issue of illegal and burdensome immigration, the government has been penalizing legal migrants, who are making a valuable contribution to the U.K. economy and paying taxes, he said.

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