Top
Begin typing your search above and press return to search.
Top Stories

SC Agrees To Hear Tomorrow Centre's Application For Stay Of Eviction Of Forest Dwellers [Read Application]

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
27 Feb 2019 5:33 AM GMT
SC Agrees To Hear Tomorrow Centres Application For Stay Of  Eviction Of Forest Dwellers [Read Application]
x

The Central Government has moved an application in the Supreme Court seeking stay of its February 13 order in relation to eviction of persons who have not been successful in establishing their claims as forest-dwellers under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006(Forests Rights Act).Solicitor General Thushar Mehta mentioned the application...

Your free access to Live Law has expired
To read the article, get a premium account.
    Your Subscription Supports Independent Journalism
Subscription starts from
599+GST
(For 6 Months)
Premium account gives you:
  • Unlimited access to Live Law Archives, Weekly/Monthly Digest, Exclusive Notifications, Comments.
  • Reading experience of Ad Free Version, Petition Copies, Judgement/Order Copies.
Already a subscriber?

The Central Government has moved an application in the Supreme Court seeking stay of its February 13 order in relation to eviction of persons who have not been successful in establishing their claims as forest-dwellers under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006(Forests Rights Act).

Solicitor General Thushar Mehta mentioned the application today before the bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Naveen Sinha, which agreed to hear it tomorrow. 

On February 13, the bench of Justices Arun Mishra, Navin Sinha and Indira Banerjee directed states to ensure the eviction of all those persons from forestland whose claims under the Forest Rights Act have been rejected. The Chief Secretaries of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telengana,Tripura, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal have to explain before Court why the rejected claimants have not been evicted. They have been directed to ensure eviction in all cases where rejection orders have been passed on or before July 24.

"In case the eviction is not carried out, as aforesaid, the matter would be viewed seriously by this Court", the bench had sternly warned the states.

In the application, the Centre seeks modification of the order so as to direct the State Governments to file detailed affidavits regarding the procedure followed and details of the rejection, and to withhold eviction till then. It says that it is uncertain from the affidavits already filed by state governments as to whether the rejection orders were passed after due process, and whether appeal mechanisms have been properly exhausted.

The Centre says that it has been periodically monitoring the implementation of the Act by the state governments. It has noted high rate of rejections of claims, which are mostly due to wrong interpretation of the Act. There is lack of awareness about the procedure for filing claims among grama sabhas. In many cases, reasons for rejections were not communicated to the claimants, and they are not able to prefer appeals, the centre states in it affidavit.

The Center refers to several letters sent by it to state governments in past years expressing its concern at the high rate of rejections, and unrealistic timelines followed by Monitoring Committees under the Act.  It has also noticed instances where forest authorities were trying to evict tribals without awaiting the decision of appeal.

"under the Act, rejection of claim does not ipso facto lead to eviction of a tribal. There is no provision in the Act which provides for eviction after a claim is rejected", the application reads.

"the applicant respectfully states that the Act is a beneficial piece of legislation and deserves to be construed liberally in favour of the FDSTs and OTFDs. The FDSTs and OTFDs are extremely poor and illiterate people and not well informed of their rights and procedure under the Act. They live in remote and inaccessible areas of the forest. It is difficult for them to substantiate their claims before the competent authorities. The applicant has time and again attempted to sensitize the state governments while deciding their claims.However, notwithstanding, it has come to light that the claims of FDSTs and OTFDs were rejected in a summary manner where no due opportunity is provided to the claimants. The rejection orders are not communicated or the same are without reasons. It is also noted that in certain cases, eviction orders are issued even before the appeals under the Act are exhausted". the centre states in the application.

The direction comes in a batch of petitions filed by an NGO Wildlife First and few retired forest officials, challenging the validity of Forests Rights Act. According to the petitioners, the Act has led to deforestation and encroachment of forest land. The petitions filed way back in 2008 also seek recovery of forestland from possession of those persons, whose claims under Forests Rights Act stood rejected. According to them approximately 20.5 lakh claims were rejected out of 44 lakh claims across states.

"If the claim is found to be not tenable by the competent authority, the result would be that the claimant is not entitled for the grant of any Patta or any other right under the Act but such a claimant is also either required to be evicted from that parcel of land or some other action is to be taken in accordance with law", the Court had observed on January 29, 2016 in the case, before directing the states to file affidavits showing the status of claims.

It is estimated that the order would have led to the eviction of more than a million persons from forestlands. 

Madhya Pradesh has the highest number of rejected claims, which approximately come to 3.5 lakhs, followed by Odisha, with nearly 1.5 lakh rejected claims. Uttarakhand has the least number of rejected claims, 51. 

Read Application


Next Story
Share it