SHILLONG, Jan 16: The state’s law department has claimed that the PIL, filed by a group of lawyers in the High Court of Meghalaya seeking the closure of the entry gate at Umling in Ri-Bhoi district, is flawed.
The infrastructure, perceived by many as a shield against the influx of illegal immigrants, was put in place last month by the state government under the Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security Act (MRSSA).
“First of all, since they are challenging the constitutional validity of the Act, it is necessary that they give a notice to the Advocate General. But the AG has not received any notice so far,” a top official of the law department told The Shillong Times requesting anonymity.
The official, who will respond to the PIL, if listed, claimed that it was not in conformity with the rules and procedures, as prescribed by the High Court of Meghalaya.
“The petition is bereft of any material and we will see it as and when it is listed,” he said.
He also said that the right to movement is subject to reasonable restrictions under Article 19 (2) and the question is whether the restrictions enforced are reasonable or not.
On the perception that the NGOs could misuse the Act, he said the petitioners can seek action against the NGOs but they cannot ask for scrapping the law.
The petitioners contended that the state does not have the power to make laws in this regard but the official argued that public order is a state subject. He said the government is not restricting anybody but only seeking information about the visitors.
Citing an example, he said a tourist is asked to providehis/her details when she/he is checking in a hotel to ensure that no illegal or an unwanted person enters the hotel premises. The official said a similar process is being followed at the entry gate.
The petition was filed by advocates from the High Court of Meghalaya Bar Association in their individual capacity on December 22. The petitioners claimed that MRSSA infringed the fundamental rights of citizens. The PIL may come up for hearing in February since the court is currently on vacation.