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

Top upper caste judges 'biased' towards Dalit colleagues: US Bar Association report

By Rajiv Shah  A high profile report prepared by the influential  American Bar Association (ABA) Center for Human Rights , taking note of the fact that “in the 70-year history of the Indian Republic, only six Dalit judges have been appointed to the Supreme Court”, has taken strong exception to what it calls “lack of representation of Dalits” in the legal profession and the judiciary.

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.

Whither SDG goal? India's maternal mortality rate fall target 5.5% per yr, actual 4.5%

By Srinivas Goli, Parul Puri* The maternal mortality ratio (number of maternal deaths per one lakh live births) is a key and sensitive parameter used by health policymakers to monitor maternal health conditions in particular and women's status in general in a country.

Fresh efforts to subsume Buddhism within Hindu fold 'undermining' Ambedkar

By Aviral Anand*  From Yeola in 1935, when Dr Ambedkar announced that he would not die a Hindu, to Nagpur in 1956 when he converted to Buddhism, is a considerable distance in time. But, there was in him a need to make a public announcement in 1935 about moving away from Hinduism. 

Unlike other revolutionaries, Hindutva icon wrote 5 mercy petitions to British masters

By Shamsul Islam*  The Hindutva icon VD Savarkar of the RSS-BJP rulers of India submitted not one, two,or three but five mercy petitions to the British masters! Savarkarites argue: “There are no evidences to prove that Savarkar collaborated with the British for his release from jail. In fact, his appeal for release was a ruse. He was well aware of the political developments outside and wanted to be part of it. So he kept requesting for his release. But the British authorities did not trust him a bit” (YD Phadke, ‘A complex Hero’, "The Indian Expres"s, August 31, 2004)

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Reverse progress in fight against hunger? 15.3% of India undernourished: GHI

By Harchand Ram*  Every year October 16 is observed as World Food Day to celebrate the date of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. In the year 2021, the theme for World Food Day is “Our actions are our Future-Better Production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life”.

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam* In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

Global Hunger Index: Govt of India response pathetic, 'lacks' scientific empirical evidence

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ* Come 16 October – and the world once again focused on the most basic need for a person’s survival: food! The first World Food Day was observed in 1994, to mark the launch of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. Ever since, the day is marked to highlight the need and importance of food security across the world. The significance is accentuated especially in these difficult times like the C-19 povidandemic. The theme for 2021 is ‘Safe Food Now for a Healthier Tomorrow’, emphasising on the various immediate and long-term benefits of consuming safe and healthy food.

Failure of 'trickle down theory' behind India's poor Global Hunger Index rating

By Dr Gian Singh*  On October 14, 2021, two organisations, Concern Worldwide (An Irish aid agency) and WeltHungerHilfe (a German organization that researches the problem of global hunger), jointly published the Global Hunger Index (GHI) for 2021. These organizations have included 116 countries in the world hunger rankings.