SC Orders Eviction of More Than 1 Million Tribals, Forest Dwellers
The Supreme Court on Wednesday, 20 February, has ordered the eviction of over 10 lakh tribals and forest dwellers from across 16 states, reported Business Standard. The move comes after the government failed to defend a law protecting their rights.
The order comes in the wake of a case filed by wildlife groups questioning the validity of the Forest Rights Act. The petitioners had also demanded that all those whose claims over traditional forestland are rejected under the law, should be evicted by state governments as a result, according to Business Standard.
A three-judge bench of Arun Mishra, Navin Sinha and Indira Banerjee passed the order, giving states time till 27 July to evict tribals and directed the states to submit a report on it.
Warning the state governments about non-compliance of the order, the court rportedly said, “In case the eviction is not carried out, as aforesaid, the matter would be viewed seriously by this Court.”
As a result, the final country-wide numbers of forced evictions are likely to rise substantially as other states are forced to comply with the court orders. The total number of rejected claims from 16 states that have reported rejection rates so far to the apex court add up to 1,127,446 tribal and other forest-dwelling households shows an analysis of the court order.
What Is the Forest Act?
The Forest Rights Act was passed during the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance’s first tenure in 2006. It requires the government to return the traditional forestland to forest dwellers, their rights to access and govern it within village boundaries, which had been controlled by the forest department since colonial times, reported the Scroll.
The law also makes the gram sabha the statutory body for managing forestland and provides that no activity should be carried out in these forests until individual and community claims over them have been settled.
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