Skip to main content

"Pro-corporate" Supreme Court order on FRA would further marginalize Adivasis

By VS Roy David, JP Raju*
For millions of Adivasis and other traditional forest dwellers February 13, 2019 will go down in history as the day of apocalypse. This is like the proverbial Black Friday where millions of most marginalized people of India were ordered by malicious anti-people draconian Supreme Court order depriving them the life and livelihood by evicting them from their habitats.
Adivasi people much before the modern laws came into existence have been practicing a sustainable ecofriendly agriculture since times immemorial. The Adivasi lexicon had no concept of private property. Their land holding system was known as communal land holding system, which was egalitarian, democratic and gender just.
The Adivasi folks have been coexisting with forests and wildlife for thousands of years in a mutually liberating symphony and harmony. Each side recognized the natural rights of each other without causing any harm to each other. The British colonial masters with the stroke of pen, declared them encroachers in their own habitats.
The post-Independent period was also not so rosy for the indigenous people of India. Our own post-colonial rulers further marginalized them by not only continuing the draconian colonial forest Act. But also enacting a plethora of anti Adivasi laws like Wild Life Protection Act and Forest Conservation Act etc.
The destructive development path perused by the successive post-Independence governments has push them further into the brink of disaster. Scores of Adivasi mass movements have been protesting against the various Acts of dispossession by mega dams, industrial projects, mining projects, real estate projects, national parks and sanctuaries.
After years of tough and protracted struggle the Adivasi mass movements ultimately forced the Government of India to enact the Forest Rights Act (FRA) in 2006. In spite of this the forest bureaucracy, the corporate sector and various other vested Interest have been resisting to handover the title deeds of Forest land.
The sheer apathy and hostility of the forest departments of various state governments can be gauged from the fact that out of 22,87,225 claims received from Scheduled Tribe (ST) applicants, 6,60,388 claims were rejected. Then out of 6,84,485 claims received from other traditional forest dwellers 4,44,493 claims were rejected. In Karnataka total of 2, 27,014 claims were filled under FRA, from this 35,521 claims of Adivasis and 1,41,019 claims of other forest dwellers were rejected.
The final blow came that when Supreme Court on a spurious writ petition filed by irresponsible anti- Adivasi conservative NGO Wild Life First passed an unjust and arbitrary order for summary eviction of Adivasis and other traditional forest dwellers whose claims have been rejected at various stages of processing.
It is a great tragedy that the Supreme Court instead of upholding the spirit of FRA went against it. We want to clearly state the fallacy of the rejection of FRA claims in the various stages of government departments. FRA clearly says that the Grama Sabha is supreme in deciding the claims under FRA. The clause 12-A of forest rights rules stipulate among other things the following:
  • Claims approved by Grama Sabha have to be sent back to it in case of objection by Government agencies and other.
  • In case of modification or rejection of a claim by the Grama Sabha as well as sub-divisional level committee the claimants have to be informed and given sufficient time to appeal against the proposed modifications and rejection. 
  • The sub-divisional and district committee could not take any decision on objection to any claims without hearing the claimants. 
  • No petition of the aggrieved person shall be disposed of without giving her/his a reasonable opportunity to present anything in support of claim. 
  • In cases where the resolution passed by the Grama Sabha recommending a claim is upheld by the sub- divisional level committee with or without modifications, but turned down by the district level committee, the district level committee shall record detailed reasons for not accepting the recommendation of Grama Sabha of sub-divisional level committee in writing a copy of the order of District level committee along with the reasons shall be made available to claimants or the Grama sabha or the community. 
  • Rule 12-A also clearly states that no committee (except the Grama Sabha or the forest rights committee) at the block or panchayat or forest beat or range level or any individual officer of any rank shall be empowered to receive claims or reject, modify or decide any claims on forest rights. 
The above provisions clearly indicates that none of the state governments have followed the genuine process of FRA, and also the Supreme Court has passed an extremely unjust and arbitrary order on February 13, 2019 to evict Adivasis and other forest dwellers.
All the adivasi mass movements, civil society organizations, political parties and other progressive and democratic Forces should come together and force the Government of India to pass an ordinance to nullify this unjust Supreme Court order.
---
*National Convener, National Adivasi Alliance, President, Budakattu Krishikara Sangha
Written as an appeal ahead of a meeting convened to discuss the issue at SCM House Bangalore, at 9.30 am on March 26

Comments

TRENDING

Mallika Sarabhai releases speech she was 'not allowed' to give at NID Convocation on Feb 7

Counterview Desk
The National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad, a Ministry of Commerce and Industry body, landed itself in controversy following its decision to put off its 40th convocation ceremony, where noted danseuse Mallika Sarabhai was invited as chief guest. The ceremony was scheduled to be held on February 7.

Modi, Shah 'forget': Gandhi’s first Satyagraha was against citizenship law of South Africa

By Nachiketa Desai*
Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi once on January 30, 1948 but his followers raising the war cry of ‘Jai Sriram’ are killing the Mahatma every day. In his home state of Gujarat, Gandhiji was killed a thousand times in 2002 when over 2,000 Muslims were butchered, their women raped, homes and shops plundered and set on fire and even unborn babies ripped out of the wombs of their mothers.

Across the board, among Muslims, Hindus, there's enormous fury at Delhi Police: Report

Counterview Desk
A quick report, prepared by Delhi's concerned citizens, "Let Us Heal Our Dilli", based on one-day visit (February 27) to several areas and mohallas of North East Delhi affected by the riots that gripped the country's capital -- Bhajanpura, Chand Bagh, Gokulpuri, Chaman Park, Shiv Vihar, Main Mustafabad (including Bhagirathi Vihar and Brijpuri) -- has said everywhere there is "zero trust" towards that the police.

As corona virus 'travels' to rural areas, NGO begins training tribals, marginalised women

By Souparno Chatterjee*
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared corona virus a pandemic. Originating from Wuhan in China, it has traversed the entire globe, almost, and claimed more than 16,000 lives already. That’s largely the urban population. In India, despite all the preparedness and war-like promptness to safeguard against the pandemic, several lives have been lost , and hundreds of individuals have tested positive.

Rani Laxmi Bai, Tatya Tope 'martyred' by East India Company, Scindia's forefathers

By Our Representative
In an email alert to Counterview, well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam has said that was “shameful for any political party in democratic India to keep children of Sindhias in their flock” given their role during the First War of Indian Independence (1857). In a direct commentary on Madhya Pradesh Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia moving over to BJP, Prof Islam has quote from a British gazetteer to prove his point.

Big 'danger' of NPR: A babu can tag anyone as doubtful citizen, Jharkhand meet told

' By Our Representative
People in large numbers from across Jharkhand gathered at the Raj Bhawan in Ranchi to demand that the Hemant Soren government reject National Population Register (NPR) and stop all NPR-related activities. The people’s organisations which participated in the dharna under the banner of the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JMM) resolved to intensify their struggle, insisting, NPR is not a Hindu-Muslim issue but is essentially anti-poor.

COVID-19: Dalit rights bodies regret, no relief plan yet for SCs, STs, marginalized

By Our Representative
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the National Dalit Watch-National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, endorsed* by several other Dalit rights organizations, have insisted, the Government of India should particular care of the scheduled castes and tribes, trans folks, persons with disabilities and the women and children from these communities, while fighting against COVID-19 pandemic.

Gujarat govt plan to 'banish' Gandhian activist anti-democratic, unconstitutional

By Rohit Prajapati*
The current Central and Gujarat governments, and their bureaucracy, have been and are still unable to answer and address the concerns raised, with facts, figures, and constitutional provisions, regarding the terror of tourism in the name of the Statue of Unity and tourism projects surrounding it.

Haridwar Swamis lead Khudai Khidmatgar peace march in Delhi 'riot affected' areas

By Our Representative
A Khudai Kidmatgar team, which visited the riot-affected regions along with Swami Shivanand Saraswati and Swami Punyanand, has insisted that India's true heritage is the lesson of ‘vasudhaiv kutumbakam', and it is the responsibility of all to carry froward this legacy. Originally founded by Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan in 1930, also known as Frontier Gandhi, Khudai Khidmatgar is claimed to have been revived by young Gandhian activist Faisal Khan in 2011.