Shillong, May 26: The Meghalaya government is seeking guidance from the Election Commission on the recent judgment passed by the Meghalaya High Court in favour of a section of foreign nationals who hail from erstwhile East Pakistan. The judgment conveys that they should be treated as Indians since they had been staying in a village in Meghalaya’s Ri-Bhoi district since before March 24, 1971.
“We will examine the court’s order as well as seek advice from the Election Commission on how to go about it,” Meghalaya deputy chief minister (law), Rowell Lyngdoh, told reporters today.
The High Court had passed the judgment based on a petition filed by over 40 persons (refugees) who were originally from Bangladesh residing at Amjong village in Ri-Bhoi district near the Meghalaya-Assam border.
The petitioners had moved the court after their citizenship certificates were seized by the deputy commissioner and could not enrol as voters.
The judgment was passed by Justice S.R. Sen on May 15 after hearing the case.
Justice Sen, in his order, said, “It is clearly understood that the forefathers of the petitioners entered India much before March 24, 1971. As such there is no question of deporting them at this stage when they have acquired the right of permanent rehabilitation in Amjong village.”
The court also directed the Ri-Bhoi deputy commissioner to return the seized certificates to the petitioners and enrol them in the voters’ list before the next elections.
During the hearing of the case, the state government as the respondent, had argued that the petitioners and their forefathers were not permanent citizens and were rehabilitated temporarily by the autonomous district council.
Lyngdoh, however, said that the ruling of the court has to be honoured and the state government would not appeal against the judgment.
“The government will wait for the advice and guidance of the Election Commission on the issue of including the names of such persons in the voters’ list,” the deputy chief minister said.