Supreme Court Orders Eviction Of More Than 10 Lakh Tribals
Supreme Court orders eviction of over 10 lakh tribals whose claims are rejected under the Forest Rights Act.
The Supreme Court ordered eviction of at least 10 lakh Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers after their claims on forestlands were rejected in a case pending for a few years.
The order was passed on Feb. 13 by a three-judge bench comprising Justice Arun Mishra, Justice Navin Sinha and Justice Indira Banerjee. Wildlife First, one of the petitioners, had challenged the constitutional validity of the Forest Rights Act and sought review of the rights granted to forest dwellers.
The eviction of rejected claims or encroachers “has to be ensured before July 24, non-compliance of which will be viewed seriously”, the apex court said.
States, including Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Chhattisgarh, will have to submit details such as the number of claims rejected and the status of eviction in a written affidavit, the order said. The chief secretaries of these states will have to explain why action has not been taken on claims which have been rejected and ensure eviction before the next date of hearing. Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Goa and Manipur will have to update the court on the adjudication status of the claims of forest dwellers.
Here’s the state-wise breakup of evictions to be carried out:
- Andhra Pradesh: 66,351 claims rejected
- Assam: 22,398 Scheduled Tribes claims, and 5,136 Other Traditional Forest Dwellers’ claims rejected
- Bihar: As many as 4,354 claims rejected
- Chhattisgarh: 20,095 claims rejected; action has been taken against 4,830.
- Jharkhand: 27,809 claims of Scheduled Tribes and 298 claims of Other Traditional Forest Dwellers rejected
- Karnataka: 35,521 claims of Scheduled Tribes and 1,41,019 claims of Other Traditional Forest Dwellers rejected
- Kerala: 894 claims rejected
- Madhya Pradesh: 20,4123 claims of Scheduled Tribes and 1,50,664 claims of Other Traditional Forest Dwellers rejected
- Maharashtra: 13,712 claims of Scheduled Tribes and 8,797 claims of Other Traditional Forest Dwellers rejected
- Odisha: 1,22,250 claims of Scheduled Tribes and 26,620 claims of Other Traditional Forest Dwellers rejected
- Rajasthan: 36,492 claims of Scheduled Tribes and 577 claims of Other Traditional Forest Dwellers rejected
- Tamil Nadu: 7,148 claims of Scheduled Tribes and 1,881 claims of Other Traditional Forest Dwellers rejected.
- Telangana: 82,075 claims of Scheduled Tribes rejected.
- Tripura: 34,483 claims of Scheduled Tribes and 33,774 claims of Other Traditional Forest Dwellers rejected
- Uttar Pradesh: 20,494 claims of Scheduled Tribes and 38,167 claims of Other Traditional Forest Dwellers rejected
- West Bengal: 50,288 claims of Scheduled Tribes and 35,856 claims of Other Traditional Forest Dwellers rejected
In a previous order in 2016, in this long pending case, the Supreme Court had noted the argument made by counsel of Wildlife First that “approximately 44 lakh claims for recognition of the Rights under the above-mentioned Act and grant of Pattas came to be filed before the authorities competent to deal with those claims in various States out of which some of the claims were accepted and some were rejected”.
It had asked each of the states to file an affidavit with data on the number of claims rejected and the extent of land covered by those claims and the consequent action taken up by the states. The matter has since then dragged on awaiting the states’ data.
The case dates back to 2008 when Wildlife First challenged the Forest Rights Act, 2006 seeking re-examination of the rights granted to forest dwellers. This included the recovery of forest land from encroachers.