Image used for representational purposes.
Image used for representational purposes.(Photo: Shruti Mathur/The Quint)
  • 1. What Does the Order Say?
  • 2. What Are the Problems With the SC Order?
  • 3. What Are the Proposed Amendments?
  • 4. Who Are the Petitioners?
  • 5. What Lies Ahead for the Case?
SC Order on Evicting 2 Million Forest-Dwellers: What’s at Stake?

On 13 February, close to two million forest-dwellers – almost eight percent of India’s population, faced a threat of eviction from their habitat. The Supreme Court, on hearing the petitions from wildlife conservation groups, ordered the state governments to evict these “illegal” dwellers and “encroachers”.

Almost six months later, on 12 September, the court will begin to hear the case, demanding a ‘clear picture’ on the rejection of tribals’ claim on forest lands.

What is the apex court order all about? How is it connected to the Forest Rights Act? What happened in the intervening six months? Here’s a short primer.

  • 1. What Does the Order Say?

    The Supreme Court ordered that Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (OTFDs) categories across 16 States whose claim as forest-dwellers has been rejected under the Forest Rights Act, must be evicted by 24 July.

    A Bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, Navin Sinha and Indira Banerjee, in a 19-page order, said that the “matter would be viewed seriously” if the evictions are not carried out in the said period.

    The order was based only on the affidavits filed by the states. The forest dwellers were left undefended.

    Ironically, the SC order originated from a case on the constitutional validity of the Forest Rights Act (FRA) – which for the first time in 2006 – granted tribal communities the right of settlement in forest areas. Prior to the enactment of the Act, the forest-dwellers were legally considered ‘encroachers.’

    The court, with the view that 13 years is a “long time to complete the official trail” ordered that those whose settlement rights had not been accepted must be evicted.

    Also Read : ‘Govt Cares for Neither Tribals Nor Forests’: Lawyer Ritwick Dutta

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