Don’t implement entry, exit regulations for outsiders, HC directs Meghalaya govt

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The Meghalaya high court noted that though the state government referred to Article 19(5) of the Constitution while drawing up the Act, the grounds on which entry to or movement within the state may be regulated hadn’t been spelt out.

SHILLONG: The Meghalaya high court on Friday blocked the implementation of entry and exit rules to the state under the Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security Act 2016 that required non-residents to register at check-posts.

A two-judge bench of the high court comprising chief justice Sanjib Banerjee and justice T Diengdoh told the government to “let the matter stand over for some time” after the government’s law officer sought time to seek information from the government to respond to the bench’s many questions.

The bench noted that though the state government referred to Article 19(5) of the Constitution while drawing up the Act, the grounds on which entry to or movement within the state may be regulated have not been spelt out in the impugned statute or any rules framed thereunder.

Article 19(5) grants the government the power to impose reasonable restrictions upon the freedom to move freely throughout India and the freedom to reside or settle in any part of the territory of the country in the interest of the general public or the protection of the interests of any Scheduled Tribe.

“The challenge here is to the validity of the Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security Act, 2016 and the possible draconian manner in which it may be implemented as appropriately apprehended by the petitioners,” the bench said.

“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 judges added.

The case has been listed for hearing on February 2 next year.

Petitioner Ibanhunlang Nongkynrih submitted that gates have been set up at several points for checks to be conducted on persons seeking to enter the state without any objective parameters being set down for denying entry or regulating the movement of any citizen of the country in the state. The petitioner had also said that such check-posts may be “impermissible” and the exercise of may be “wholly arbitrary”.

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