All forest dwellers and Adivasi must be evicted: SC

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In a judgment having far-reaching consequences, l the Supreme Court evicted 10 Lakh Adivasi and Forest Dwellers living across 16 states of India and their traditional claims over forest have been rejected.

This order will have serious consequences as it came after a petition challenging the validity of the Forest Rights Act,2006 on February 13 last.

This means anyone living or encroaching inside a declared forest must be evicted. The court order is not yet clear what will be the fate of forest villages. In Assam, there are hundreds of forest villages which have been in existence for centuries, much before the forest was declared a forest as per law.

The Parliament had passed the Forest Rights Act in 2006. The law gave back to traditional forest dwellers their rights to access, manage and govern forest lands and resources within village boundaries, which had been controlled by the forest department since colonial times.

The court directed state governments to evict Adivasis whose claims have been rejected. The three-judge bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, Navin Sinha and Indira Banerjee gave the states time till July 27, when the matter will be heard next. It also asked the governments to submit a report on the matter in the Supreme Court.

“In case the eviction is not carried out, as aforesaid, the matter would be viewed seriously by this court,” the order read.

The court also asked the states to explain why there were no evictions despite the rejection of claims. Nearly 11,27,446 tribal and other forest-dwelling households have been rejected as per the rejection claims from 16 states that were submitted in the court.

 

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