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

India under Modi among top 10 autocratizing nations, on verge of 'losing' democracy status

By Rajiv Shah
A new report, prepared by a top Swedish institute studying liberal democracy, has observed that there has been a sharp “dive in press freedom along with increasing repression of civil society in India associated with the current Hindu-nationalist regime of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” The report places India among the top 10 countries that “have autocratized the most”. Other countries that have been identified for rolling towards autocracy are -- Hungary, Turkey, Poland, Serbia, Brazil, Mali, Thailand, Nicaragua and Zambia.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Border conflict? RBI nod India's 'brotherly' help to China internationalise its currency

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
In the middle of a global pandemic, China started an unprovoked border conflict with India. It unraveled trust deficit and ties between the two neighbours. As thousands of Chinese troops tried occupying Indian territory, the Narendra Modi-led BJP government directs the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to allow the Bank of China to start regular banking services in India. The Bank of China will now operate in India like any other commercial banks.

RSS supremo Deoras 'supported' Emergency, but Indira, Sanjay Gandhi 'didn't respond'

By Shamsul Islam*
National Emergency was imposed on the country by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on June 25-26, 1975, and it lasted for 19 months. This period is considered as ''dark times' for Indian democratic polity. Indira Gandhi claimed that due to Jaiprakash Narayan's call to the armed forces to disobey the 'illegal' orders of Congress rulers had created a situation of anarchy and there was danger to the existence of Indian Republic so there was no alternative but to impose Emergency under article 352 of the Constitution.

Clean chit to British rulers, Muslim League? Karnataka to have Veer Savarkar flyovers

By Shamsul Islam*
The BJP government of Karnataka led by BS Yediyurappa is going to honour Hindutva icon VD Savarkar by naming two of the newly built major flyovers in Bangalore and Mangalore after him. There was a huge uproar against this decision of the RSS-BJP government as many pro-Kannada organisations with opposition parties and liberal-secular organizations questioned the logic to ignore so many freedom fighters, social reformers and others from within the state.

Hurried nod to Western Ghat projects: 16 lakh Goans' water security 'jeopardised'

Counterview Desk
Taking strong exception to "virtual clearances" to eco-sensitive projects in the Western Ghats, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) in a statement has said urged for a review of the four-lane highway, 400 KV transmission line and double tracking of the railway line through the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park in Goa.

Disturbing signal? Reliance 'shifting focus' away from Indian petrochemical sector

By NS Venkataraman*
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), a large Indian company, has expanded and grown in a spectacular manner during the last few decades, like of which no industrial group in India has performed before. RIL is now involved in multi various activities relating to petroleum refineries, petrochemicals, oil and gas exploration, coal bed methane, life sciences, retail business, communication network, (Jio platform) media/entertainment etc.

Letter to friends, mentors: Coming together of class, communal, corona viruses 'scary'

By Prof (Dr) Mansee Bal Bhargava*
COVID greetings from Ahmedabad to dear mentors and friends from around the world…
I hope you are keeping well and taking care of yourself besides caring for the people around you. I’m writing to learn how is the science and the society coping with the prevention and cure of the pandemic. I’m also writing to share the state of the corona virus that is further complicated with the long-standing class and communal viruses.

Case for nationalising India's healthcare system amidst 'strong' private control

Counterview Desk
A draft discussion note, prepared by Dr Maya Valecha, a Gujarat-based gynecologist and activist, sent to the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) as also a large number of activists, academics and professionals as an email alert, is all set to create a flutter among policy experts for its strong insistence on nationalizing India’s healthcare system.