February 28, 2019 1:44:32 pm
The Supreme Court Thursday put on hold its February 13 order directing states to complete eviction of forest dwellers whose claims in respect of forest land had been rejected. The bench, comprising Justices Arun Mishra and Naveen Sinha, sought reply from 21 states on the procedure followed while rejecting these claims.
The Centre and the Gujarat government had moved the SC Wednesday seeking a remodification of its earlier order, which would affect at least 11.8 lakh tribals and traditional forest dwellers. The court will take up the matter next on July 10.
Supreme Court puts on hold its February 13 order directing states to complete eviction of all those tribals & others whose claims in respect of forest land had been rejected. Asks states to file affidavits stating clearly procedure followed while rejecting claims @IndianExpress
— Ananthakrishnan G (@axidentaljourno) February 28, 2019
On February 13, the SC had directed states to complete eviction of “forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes” (FDSTs) and “other traditional forest dwellers” (OTFDs) whose claims for forest land had been rejected under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006. The court’s ruling came on a clutch of petitions on the issue that were filed since 2006.
Polls near, order may have political repercussions
With 47 seats reserved for Scheduled Tribes in the Lok Sabha, the Supreme Court order on eviction of tribals from forest land is likely to have political ramifications. The apex court order comes in connection with a PIL, that essentially is a legal tussle between forest rights and tribal rights. Just months away from the elections, there is a possibility that the issue may be raised politically, even before the SC takes up the matter on July 24.
Days after the order, Congress president Rahul Gandhi had asked chief ministers of states governed by the party to file review petitions in the Supreme Court against the order or “any other action you may deem fit”.
The Indian Express reported that he had said that it is time “for us to work towards deepening the promise of India for everyone”.
Two days after this, BJP president Amit Shah, too, directed CMs of BJP-governed states to file review petitions against the order.
“I have spoken to all CMs of BJP-ruled states in the situation arising out of Supreme Court’s order on eviction of Tribals living in Forest Areas. The states will be soon filing review petition and care will be taken to safeguard the rights of our tribals and prevent eviction…. I would also urge them (forest-dwellers) not to fall in the trap of rumours from usual suspects,” Shah had stated.
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