Centre asks Supreme Court to modify Feb 13 verdict

On Wednesday the central government submitted an application in Supreme Court, urging the apex court to change its February 13 ruling, dispossessing lakhs of Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers. These tribes claimed forest land rights, which was rejected by the court under the Forest Rights Act (FRA) of 2006. Over 11 lakh ST and OTFDs across 16 States faced the brunt of the Supreme court’s verdict.

The Bench, led by Justice Arun Mishra, however, said “the mighty and the undeserving” who have encroached on forest lands would be shown no mercy.The Centre challenged the verdict with its application which states that lakhs of forest dwellers claim to the forest land had been rejected by the States without following the due process of law.

The forest land claims are by the tribes who live off the forest. The tribal people, living in remote areas are often victim to poverty and illiteracy weren’t aware of the exact producer to file their claims. The application also mentioned about the September 12, 2014 letter which spoke about the unfair practices suffered by the tribal population in the states hit by left-wing extremism.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the government, said that the Supreme Court ruling had affected a large number of families. The centre has also called for the states to file proper affidavits on the procedures as regards verification of claims to forest rights before any related eviction occurs.

“The eviction of the tribals may be withheld… the eviction of tribals, without such information, would cause serious prejudice to them who have been residing in forests for generations… Many are poor and illiterate,” Mr Mehta submitted.

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