Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong said that the state government would leave it to the wisdom of the judiciary regarding a PIL filed against the implementation of the Meghalaya Residents, Safety and Security Act (MRSSA), 2016.
“I don’t have to say anything on that so we leave it to the wisdom of the judiciary. Everybody has the right to file, be it in the form of a PIL so let the court ultimately examine, interpret and give a final verdict on that,” Tynsong told reporters on Friday.
The PIL, which challenged the “constitutional validity” of the MRSSA, 2016 was filed by six lawyers from the High Court of Meghalaya Bar Association on December 22, and a hearing on the matter may come up in February since the court is currently on vacation.
It may be mentioned here that the MRSSA was passed by the then Congress-led state government in 2016, as part of a comprehensive mechanism to check influx and illegal immigration into the state.
As part of the implementation of the MRSSA, the state government has recently inaugurated the entry point or a facilitation centre at Umling in Ri Bhoi district to ensure compulsory registration of people from other parts of the country while entering the state.
Asked on the allegation that MRSSA is infringing into the fundamental rights of citizens, Tynsong however said that the state government had passed the MRSSA after doing due diligence and in consultation with the legal team.
“So as far as the government is concerned, I think we have nothing to say on that (infringement of fundamental rights) as I said let the court take a decision on this issue,” he asserted.
“Any legislation in the form of an Act prepared by the government ultimately has to be passed by the house. While preparing any legislation, the government has done due diligence and that also in consultation with legal experts,” he stated.
Stating that the facilitation centre or entry point was set up for registration of people from outside the state, the deputy CM however said, “We have created the facilitation centre for our friends coming into our state and it is not that we don’t allow them to come but it is only for the sake of registration because by doing so that there is no intention from the government side to harass or to make people inconvenient.”
Meanwhile, Tynsong informed that apart from operationalizing the entry point at Umling, the state government is all set to construct two more entry points at Bajengdoba in North Garo Hills and Ratacherra in East Jaintia Hills.
In the PIL, the petitioners had cited violation and infringement of fundamental rights and other legal rights of the public as a whole guaranteed under part III of the Indian Constitution specially mentioned in Articles 14, 15, 19 and 21. These Articles relate to the protection of life, personal liberty and right of freedom.
The PIL also termed the MRSSA 2016 as illegal especially the sections from 5 to 20 having been made in absence of any power provided in the Constitution of India and also being arbitrary and discriminatory violating the fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 14, 15, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India.
Another point in the PIL is that the state used unbridled power in enacting MRSSA 2016 and in establishing a checkgate/facilitation centre at Umling under section 17 of the Act.
The PIL pointed out illegal attempts to deprive Indian citizens of their fundamental rights to move freely throughout the territory of India and to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India as guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution.
The PIL also speaks about the failure of the state government to maintain law and order and highhandedness of various NGOs in the state and to generate employment for the educated youths and further trying to close down the limited available opportunity by the implementation of MRSSA 2016.
It said the state and NGOs worked hand in glove to bring MRSSA 2016 on being failed to achieve implementation of ILP and added that unemployment and less avenues will increase through the implementation of MRSSA 2016 which will further push the people into extreme poverty.
Besides, the PIL said that tourism will be severely impacted and all people engaged directly or indirectly with the business of hotels, restaurants, malls, guest houses, rent houses, small shops, vegetable vendors and taxi drivers will become workless which will lead to the destruction of each household.