The Hynñiewtrep National Youth Front (HNYF) has rebutted the arguments in the public interest litigation (PIL) filed by six lawyers in the High Court of Meghalaya that challenges the constitutionality of the entry-exit checkpoint in Umling and the Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security Act (MRSSA) 2016.
A statement today issued by HNYF General Secretary Sadon K Blah said that the MRSSA does not infringe against Article 14 of the Constitution, which provides for equality before the law and equal protection as there are no provisions in the Meghalaya law that denies an Indian citizen’s rights. It merely verifies an entrant’s Indian citizenship.
This is needed in Meghalaya as the state shares a 400-plus kilometre border with Bangladesh on one end and an even longer border with Assam, where there are many illegal Bangladeshi migrants, he said.
On the charge that the law and the checkpoint, enacted under the legislation, contravenes Article 19, which provides for the free movement of Indian citizens throughout India and their right to settle anywhere in the country, Blah said that non-citizens still require proper documents to enjoy movement within the country and the MRSSA has been formulated in this regard.
“Hence the purpose of entry-exit points, MRSSA is to regulate and detect any possible illegal migrants with interest to establish their base in the state. The same article contains the enabling provision in Clause 5 which states that the state can make laws imposing reasonable restrictions on the enjoyment of these rights either in the interest of the general public and Scheduled Tribes,” he added.
He also rejected any notion that the residents act goes against Article 15 (which prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth with regards to citizens access to public amenities) or Article 21 (which states that no person shall be deprived of his life and personal liberty).
“The PIL has accused the government of Meghalaya to have overstepped the limit of legislation by passing the MRSSA and creating entry-exit points. But taking into consideration that the whole of Meghalaya, except designated otherwise, is a tribal state, the state of Meghalaya has adopted a principle of ‘procedure established by law’ for the protection of the interest of the Scheduled Tribes, in passing and implementing the MRSSA entry-exit points. The definition of state in Article 12 of the constitution empowered the state government also to legislate on the said subject,” he said.