SHILLONG, Jan 18: Giving the rationale behind the Meghalaya Residents’ Safety and Security Act and the entry-exit point in Umling, the Hynniewtrep National Youth Front (HNYF) has said that both are appropriate mechanisms to check influx in state.
The reaction from the HNYF comes in the wake of a PIL being filed by a consortium of lawyers on the entry-exit point in the High Court.
In a statement here, HNYF general secretary, Sadon Blah, accentuated the need for laws to safeguard the indigenous people of the state.
Stating that demands for laws to tackle influx is not new in Meghalaya, Blah deplored the challenge that has been put in the form of a PIL, especially at a time when stringent measures are being taken by the state government to curb influx.
“The contention of the said PIL is that the entry-exit point is in contravention of Article 14, 15, 19 and 21 of the Constitution, which are basically articles dealings with fundamental rights. These articles, as provided in the Constitution, confers rights on the individuals as well as citizens as in collectives and also certain fundamental rights to non-citizens with a prescription that none of the fundamental rights, except Right to Life, can be constitutionally absolute,” Blah said, adding, “State can make laws to subject these rights to reasonable restrictions”.
He said the contention in the PIL is that entry-exit point is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution which provides for equality before the law or equal protection of the laws.
Arguing that there are no provisions in the MRSSA and entry-exit point to deny the same to any Indian citizen, Blah said that verifying one’s citizenship does not, in any way, imply the denial of equality before the law.
“This is needed because Meghalaya has a long stretch of international border with Bangladesh and there are reports of foreigners entering Meghalaya through the porous borders. Many others might have sneaked into the state through Assam too. Entry-exit point is a mechanism to deal with such matters,” he said.
Blah argued that the entry-exit point is an appropriate mechanism to ensure that immigrants do not claim equality in the state.
Reacting to another contention in the PIL that the entry-exit points is in contravention of Article 15 of the Constitution, Blah said the MRSSA or entry-exit point do not contain any provision to discriminate against any genuine Indian citizens on these grounds despite the enabling provision in Clause 5 of the same Article, which enables the state to pass legislation for the protection of the interests of the scheduled tribes.
On the contention that the entry-exit point is in contravention of Article 21 of the Constitution, he said it does not, in any way, seek to deprive anyone of his/her life and personal liberty. He added that the mechanism only wants people to prove their citizenship before entering the state.
“The said PIL has accused the Meghalaya government of having overstepped the limit of legislation by passing the MRSSA and setting up the entry-exit point. But taking into consideration that the whole of Meghalaya, except designated otherwise, is a tribal state, Meghalaya has adopted a principle of ‘procedure established by law’ for the protection of the interest of the scheduled tribes in passing the MRSSA and setting up the entry-exit point,” he said.
“The contention in the PIL that section 144 CrPC and section 188 IPC is enough to check influx. But relying on these two sections will only lead to further violation of personal liberty and individual rights because they will warrant late-night summons and search,” Blah added.