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Govt check gates: Meghalaya HC rules regulating Indian citizens entry into state ‘may be not exercised’

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Shillong, Dec 2: The move of the state government to put up check gates on the borders of the state to check influx as well as to appease the pressure groups has met the obstacle of Meghalaya High Court.

The Court doesn’t see the Constitutional validity of the reasons cited by the state for putting up the check gates at various points along the state’s border to regulate the entry of Indian citizens into the State.

Hearing a PIL challenging the validity of the government’s check gates on Thursday, the Division Bench of Meghalaya High Court consisting of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice T. Diengdoh observed that the government order restricting or regulating the entry or movement of Indian citizens into and within the State ‘may be not exercised’.

In its order the Bench observed: “It is made clear that the apparent omnibus charter conferred by the impugned statute without indicating any parameters for restricting or regulating the entry or movement of Indian citizens into and within the State may be not exercised.”

The Order mentioned that the challenge here is to the validity of the Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security Act, (MRSSA) 2016 and the possible draconian manner in which it may be implemented as appropriately apprehended by the petitioners.

“Though the State refers to Article 19(5) of the Constitution, the grounds on which entry to or movement within the State may be regulated have not been spelt out in the impugned statute or in any rules framed thereunder. Indeed, it does not appear that the rule-making authority under Section 20 of the impugned legislation has been invoked at all.”

“Since Counsel representing the State seeks time to obtain instructions as to whether any rules may be put in place under the statute to provide cogent and reasonable grounds, let the matter stand over for sometime,” read the Order.

The next hearing on the matter has been listed on February 2, 2022.

This order comes as a major blow to the pro-ILP groups which have been pressuring the government to implement the inner line permit (ILP). While the government passed the resolution to implement the ILP in State but the MHA hasn’t approved for its implementation in the state. In the meantime, the state decided to put up check gates across the state’s borders as a temporary fix to appease the pro-ILP groups who had been staging demonstrations and creation of law and order situations.

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