Skip to main content

Put up 'credible' defense of forest dwellers in Supreme Court: CMs, Govt of India told

Counterview Desk
The Bhumi Adhikar Andolan (BAA), an alliance of more than 300 mass-based organizations working for forest and land rights across the country, has written a letter to several state chief ministers and the Union  minister for tribal affairs, urging them to put forward "credible defense" of the Forest Rights Act (FRA) in the Supreme Court so that the order seeking the eviction of 11.5 lakh adivasis and other traditional forest dwellers is "annulled."
The letter, written ahead of the last day of the Supreme Court stay (July 10) putting on hold the eviction of forest dwellers,  regrets, "Despite the fact that the directions for eviction have been put ‘on hold’ by the court, the erroneous interpretation of the Forest Rights Act (FRA) advanced by the writ petitioners that rejection of claims must, by definition, result in evictions, continues to hold the field.”
Insisting that "this interpretation of FRA is not only faulty, but also unsupported by law", the letter says, "It also tends to compound the very historical injustice that FRA seeks to undo." Hence,  it adds, there is an "urgent need to dismantle this interpretation of FRA and clarify the position of law."
Drawing attention to allegedly "tardy implementation of FRA", the letter says, "Performance of state governments with regard to recognition of community forest resource rights, habitat rights, as well as women’s forest rights, including single women, has been abysmal and flawed."

Text of the letter sent to UP CM:

We, as concerned citizens and as an alliance of more than 300 mass-based organizations working for the forest and land rights, across the country, would like to bring to your attention the issues related to proper implementation of the Forest Rights Act, 2006, and the ongoing judicial intervention in the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India.
At the recently concluded national consultation on FRA in New Delhi on July 1-2, it was decided that we would reach out to you with an appeal to put forward credible defense of FRA in the Supreme Court in your affidavits and ensure that the order evicting the Adivasis and other traditional forest dwellers are annulled.
We urge you to give an undertaking to the Court that your government will implement FRA in letter and spirit and address the historical injustice meted to the Adivasis.
We believe that there is an impression that after the Supreme Court order dated February 28, 2019 staying its earlier order putting the orders for eviction ‘on hold’, there is no further need for the order dated February 13, 2019 to be recalled or modified.
However, despite the fact that the directions for eviction have been put ‘on hold’ by the court, the erroneous interpretation of FRA advanced by the writ petitioners that rejection of claims must, by definition, result in evictions, continues to hold the field.
This interpretation of FRA is not only faulty, but also unsupported by law. It also tends to compound the very historical injustice that FRA seeks to undo. Thus, there is an urgent need to dismantle this interpretation of FRA and clarify the position of law.
There is another reason why this interpretation of FRA needs to be challenged. It is well known that implementation of the Act has been uneven, and in many parts of the country there are vast sections of eligible forest dwellers who have either not filed claims at all, or who have not pursued the entire bundle of forest rights to which they are lawfully entitled.
Indeed, the performance of state governments with regard to recognition of Community Forest Resource rights, habitat rights, as well as women’s forest rights, including single women, has been abysmal and flawed.
The orders passed by the Supreme Court, having received wide coverage in the press and social media, will have a chilling effect on future rights recognition processes, on efforts by forest dwelling communities to protect their Community Forest Resource rights and Individual Forest Rights, and to secure their livelihoods.
For this reason, and to re-iterate the purpose of FRA towards correcting ‘historical injustice’ by acknowledging traditional rights, knowledge and governance of forest dwelling communities to forests, it is imperative that the Ministry of Tribal Affairs continue to press for the recall of not only the order dated February 13, 2019, but also the previous orders dated January 29, 2016 and March 7, 2018 as well.
For this purpose, we urge that the State Government of Uttar Pradesh should advocate this issue with the Ministry of Tribal Affairs at the Centre and must reflect the same in the Supreme Court in its affidavit.
 ---
Signed by: Hannan Mollah, Medha Patkar, Jitendra Chaudhary, Roma, Ashok Choudhary, Ulka Mahajan, Atul Anajan, Prafulla Samantara, Brian Lobo, Dr. Sunilam, Adv. Aradhna Bhargava, Dayamani Barla, Teesta Setalvad, Virendra Vidrohi, Suneet Chopra, Raghvendra, Vijoo Krishnan, Prem Singh, Satyavan, Anil Choudhary, Bhupinder Singh Rawat, Shweta, Madhuresh Kumar, Ashok Shrimali, Krishna Prasad, Virendra Vidrohi, Deep Singh Shekhawat, Satyam, Sanjeev Kumar, Anil Varghese and other representatives

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.