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SC blow to return of migrants from Pak

New Delhi, Nov. 11: The Jammu and Kashmir Resettlement of Migrants Act was today rendered virtually inoperable with the Supreme Court continuing the stay on it.

The Act enables all migrants to Pakistan to come back and resettle in the state.

Enacted in 1982, the law was in the thick of discussion recently after the National Conference government led by Farooq Abdullah announced that it would be implemented.

A three-judge bench of Chief Justice G.B. Pattanaik, Justices K.G. Balakrishnan and S.B. Sinha today ordered that the interim stay on the operation of the law granted in February would continue.

The bench was hearing a public interest litigation by Panthers Party president Bhim Singh, who had the Act.

Singh contended that the Act would facilitate the entry of ISI-trained terrorists to the state and the Act itself was unconstitutional as it threatened the unity and integrity of the country.

Under the Act, any person from Pakistan could claim to be a migrant and thereafter claim all legal rights as a citizen. In fact, migrants resettling in the state would become citizens of the state, the petition said.

The Act was actually returned in 1982 by then state Governor B.K. Nehru and a presidential reference to the Supreme Court was also returned unanswered by the court in November last year.

The state government took a decision that it would implement the Act.

Singh said the Act would pave the way for more than two lakh Pakistanis, including the heirs of those who were actually born in Pakistan and youngsters trained in arms by both Pakistan and the Taliban, to penetrate into the state.

The Panthers Party chief contended that even the Hindu-dominated Jammu region would be infiltrated by the migrants, including people trained in arms.

The Centre also supported the petitioner holding that the Act would jeopardise national security and public order not only in the state but also throughout the country.

In an affidavit, the Central government said: “The Act purports to enable even persons who have voluntarily migrated to Pakistan with the partition of the country.”

It said persons who have taken Pakistani citizenship and have become citizens of that country for at least two to three generations could also come back to “resettle” and quite a few of them could even be the ones who have fought against India in the past two or three wars.

The Centre’s affidavit also pointed out that the law did not make any provision to verify the antecedents of the migrants wanting resettlement in Jammu and Kashmir.

The affidavit added that once a person had taken the citizenship of another country, he or she could not claim citizenship in India as a legal or birthright.

A law relating to this aspect could be enacted only by the Central government in Parliament and a state government could not enact such a law, it said.

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