Shillong, Nov 18: The Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP) suggested the Meghalaya Democratic government to convene a special session to pass official resolutions in the state Assembly to urge the Union government to amend the Sixth Schedule by replacing the word “President” with “Governor” in paragraph 12 A(b), and to insert a ‘special clause’ to exempt Meghalaya from the applicability of the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB).
The HSPDP gave this suggestion to the state government during a meeting with Chief Minister, Conrad K Sangma.
HSPDP MLA who is also its general secretary, Renikton Lyngdoh Tongkhar said that the party has resolved to suggest that a government resolution be sent to the parliamentary standing committee to amend paragraph 12 A(b) of the Sixth Schedule by deleting the word ‘President’ and replacing it with the word ‘Governor.’
He said that till date under paragraph 12 (b) of the Sixth Schedule, the governor of Assam has the power to notify and direct that any act of Parliament shall not apply to an autonomous district or an autonomous region in the state of Assam, or shall apply to such region in the state, or shall apply to such district or region or any part thereof, subject to such exceptions or modifications, as he may specify in the notification, and any such direction may be given so as to have retrospective effect.
Tongkhar said that several Central acts and rules affect the unique identity, cultural, land tenure and demographic structure of Meghalaya, and pointed out that in the past, the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly had also passed a resolution urging the President of India to exempt the applicability of the Conservation of Forest Act, 1980 and the MMDR Act, 1957, but the same has been turned down by the President of India.
“The legislation like the Citizenship Amendment Bill if passed and became a law, should be exempted from the state of Meghalaya. Hence we need such power to be given to the Governor instead of the President,” Tongkhar said.
HSPDP President, K P Pangniang said that a ‘special clause’ in the CAB should be inserted to exempt Meghalaya from its applicability.
The Centre wanted to bring the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019 to amend the existing Citizenship Act, 1955 to make illegal immigrants from minority groups from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan eligible to become Indian citizens.
“The eligibility criteria to grant citizenship to these illegal immigrants are unreasonable and unlawful. This bill has no explanation as to the inclusion of this clause which is prima facie unconstitutional and as such, will fail the test of reasonability contained in Article 14 (right to equality) of the Constitution and corrupting the basic concept of secularism as per the doctrine of basic structures of the Constitution. The provision that allows illegal immigrants to become Indian citizens, by relaxing the criteria from 11 years to six years to gain citizenship by naturalization for persons belonging to religious communities is a great danger to the demographic structure and unique identity of the indigenous tribal population of Meghalaya,” Pangniang said.
Stating that the Union government should not pass the CAB in its present form, Pangniang said, “if the bill is passed, then special clause to exempt Meghalaya from the applicability of the bill needs to be inserted in order to safeguard the rights and interests of the indigenous people of the state of Meghalaya.”