Shillong: Main Opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) in Meghalaya on Friday called for the state government to contest "without delay" the Meghalaya High Court order that Bangladeshi nationals who have made the state their home prior to March 24, 1971, must be considered as Indian citizens.
The single bench of Justice SR Sen had on May 15 ruled that Bangladesh nationals who settled in this north-eastern state prior to March, 1971, should be treated as Indian citizens and their names enrolled in electoral rolls.
At the same time, the court had added that those who had emigrated after that date be deported back to their country of origin.
"The government should contest this ruling before a Division Bench without further delay on the basis of the Indian Citizenship Act, 1955, and Foreigner`s Act, 1946," UDP Working President Paul Lyngdoh told.
He said that the cut-off date of 1971 was only applicable in the state of Assam and any attempt to settle illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in Meghalaya would be detrimental to the interests of the indigenous tribals and go against the spirit of the Sixth Schedule and Article 19(5) of the Constitution.
Stating that the Assam Accord which had led to the Indira-Mujib Treaty was a bilateral agreement between two prime ministers, Paul averred that the 25-year treaty had expired in 1997 and there was no integration by way of law into the Constitution of India.
Justice Sen based his judgement on a petition by over 40 refugees from Bangladesh who were denied enrolment in electoral rolls by the district administration on the grounds that their citizenship was doubtful.
Taking a cue from the affidavit filed by the state government, Justice Sen also said there was an understanding between the two countries with regards to who should be allowed to stay and who should be deported back to Bangladesh.
"There is no question of deporting them at this stage when they have acquired the right of permanent rehabilitation in Amjong village,” Justice Sen had said.