SC orders eviction of Adivasis, Forest Dwellers; Directs Satellite Survey of encroachment
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SC orders eviction of Adivasis, Forest Dwellers; Directs Satellite Survey of encroachment

Murali Krishnan

In a significant order passed on February 13, the Supreme Court has passed extensive directions to twenty-one States regarding eviction of Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (OTFDs) from forestland.

The Court also ordered the Forest Survey of India (FSI) to make a satellite survey and place on record the encroachment positions and the position after eviction.

The directions were passed by a Bench of Justices Arun Mishra, Navin Sinha and Indira Banerjee in a case filed by NGOs including Wildlife First questioning the validity of the Forest Rights Act, 2006 (Act).

Justices Arun Mishra, Navin Sinha and Indira Banerjee (From L to R)
Justices Arun Mishra, Navin Sinha and Indira Banerjee (From L to R)

The Act was passed with the object of undoing the “historic injustice” done to the forest dwellers. The Act recognises the rights of the forest dwellers over forestland and resources which they have been using as part of their livelihood.

The NGOs had challenged the Act and also sought eviction of forest dwellers whose claims are rejected under the law.

When the matter came up for hearing on February 13, the court passed a detailed order giving directions to twenty-one States. Below are the same:

Andhra Pradesh

The Court noted that as per the affidavit submitted by the State, the extent of land covered by rejections in respect of STs is 1,14,400 acres and 66,351 claims have been rejected.

However, not even a single order of eviction has been complied with.

“Once the orders of eviction have been passed, the eviction ought to have taken place”, the Court stated.

It, therefore, asked the Chief Secretary of the State to file an affidavit as to why the orders of eviction have not been carried out with respect to those whose claims have been rejected. The affidavit has to be filed on or before July 12, 2019.

Assam

In the affidavit filed by Assam, it was stated that the total number of claims rejected with respect to Scheduled Tribes is 22,398 and with respect to Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (OTFDs) is 5,136.

The Court directed the Chief Secretary of Assam to file an affidavit stating whether the incumbents in respect of whom the rejection orders have been passed, have been evicted or not. In case they have not been evicted, the affidavit has to set out the reasons for the same.

The Court also ordered that in case the eviction orders have attained finality, the concerned authority has to ensure that the eviction is made on or before the next date of hearing.

Bihar

As per the affidavit filed by Bihar, out of the 4,696 claims, 4,354 claims were rejected. The affidavit also indicated that in some of the Districts, action was being taken for eviction.

The Court ordered Bihar to file a detailed affidavit disclosing number of claims settled. Further, in cases where claims have been rejected and have attained finality, the affidavit has to set out whether eviction has been ordered and possession has been taken or not.

Importantly, with respect to cases in which the orders have attained finality, eviction has to be made forthwith.

Chhattisgarh

As per the affidavit filed by the State of Chhattisgarh, claims made by 20,095 claimants have been rejected. However, action has been taken only against 4,830 claimants.

The Court, therefore, ordered the Chief Secretary of the State to file an affidavit stating whether eviction orders have been carried out in cases where they have attained finality.

It should also indicate as to how many claims are still pending for verification.

Goa

Goa’s affidavit indicated that 6,094 claims have been filed by persons from Scheduled Tribes while 4,036 claims have been filed by OTFDs.

The Court asked the State to give details of as to how many claims have been adjudicated. In case the eviction orders have attained finality, the State should indicate whether those incumbents have been evicted or not.

The Chief Secretary should ensure that eviction is carried out and a compliance report is submitted to the Supreme Court on or before the next date of hearing.

Gujarat

The affidavit filed by the State of Gujarat stated that 1,68,899 claims have been filed by STs and 13,970 claims have been filed by OTFDs.

The Court ordered the Chief Secretary to indicate, by way of an affidavit, as to why eviction has not been made after the rejection of the claims, which have attained finality.

The Court also ordered that the Chief Secretary should ensure that where the rejection orders have been passed, eviction is carried out on or before the next date of hearing.

Himachal Pradesh

In Himachal Pradesh, 2,131 claims have been filed by STs and 92 claims have been filed by OTFDs.

The State has been directed to file an affidavit as to why eviction has not been made after the rejection of the claims. The Court also ordered the Chief Secretary to ensure that where the rejection orders have been passed, eviction is carried out on or before the next date of hearing.

Jharkhand

As per the affidavit filed by the State of Jharkhand, 1,07,187 claims have been filed by STs and 3,569 claims have been filed by OTFDs. Out of the above, 27,809 claims of STs and 298 claims of OTFDs have been rejected.

The State has been directed to file an affidavit as to why eviction has not been made after the rejection of the claims. The Court also ordered the Chief Secretary to ensure that where the rejection orders have been passed, eviction is carried out before the next date of hearing.

Karnataka

In Karnataka, 48,432 claims have been filed by STs and 2,27,014 claims have been filed by OTFDs. Out of the above, 35,521 claims of STs and 1,41,019 claims of OTFDs have been rejected.

The Court ordered that eviction has to be carried out where rejections orders have been passed.

Kerala

The State of Kerala submitted that 39,999 claims were filed by STs, out of which 894 have been rejected. The Court ordered that eviction has to be carried out where rejections orders have been passed and have attained finality.

The Court also ordered Kerala to complete the verification/ reverification process within four months.

Madhya Pradesh

In Madhya Pradesh, 4,26,105 claims were filed by STs and 1,53,306 claims were filed by OTFDs. Out of the above, 2,04,123 claims of STs and 1,50,664 claims of OTFDs were rejected.

The Court ordered that eviction has to be carried out where rejections orders have been passed.

Maharashtra

The affidavit filed by the State of Maharashtra indicated that 2,54,042 claims were filed by STs and 1,05,681 claims were made by OTFDs. Out of the above, the State rejected 13,712 claims of STs and 8,797 claims of OTFDs.

The State has to file an affidavit indicating why eviction has not been made after the rejections orders became final. The State should also ensure that eviction is carried out on or before the next date of hearing, in cases where rejection orders have been passed.

Odisha

In Odisha, 5,73,867 claims were filed by STs and 31,687 claims were filed by OTFDs. Out of the above, 1,22,250 claims of STs and 26,620 claims of OTFDs have been rejected.

The affidavit filed by the State also indicated that the rejected claims were being reviewed. The Court ordered the State to complete the review process within four months.

The Court also ordered the State to file an affidavit indicating why eviction has not been made after the rejections orders became final. The State should also ensure that eviction is carried out in cases where rejection orders have been passed.

Rajasthan

The affidavit filed by the State of Rajasthan indicated that 73,578 claims were filed by STs and 597 claims by OTFDs. Out of the above, 36,492 claims of STs and 577 claims of OTFDs have been rejected.

The Court ordered the State to ensure that eviction is carried out where rejections orders have been passed.

Tamil Nadu

As per the affidavit filed by the State of Tamil Nadu, 31,821 claims were filed by STs and 2,481 claims by OTFDs. Out of the above, the State rejected 7,148 claims of STs and 1881 claims of OTFDs.

The Court directed that the Chief Secretary shall ensure that where the rejection orders have been passed, eviction is carried out on or before the next date of hearing.

Telangana

In Telangana, 1,83,252 claims were filed by STs out of which 82,075 claims of STs were rejected by the State.

The Court, therefore, ordered the Chief Secretary to ensure that eviction is carried out where rejections orders have been passed.

Tripura

The affidavit filed by the State of Tripura indicated that 1,66,584 claims were filed by STs and 33,774 claims by OTFDs. Out of the above, 34,483 claims of STs and 33,774 claims of OTFDs have been rejected.

The Court ordered that eviction has to be carried out where rejections orders have been passed.

Uttarakhand

As per the affidavit filed by the State, 90 claims were filed by STs and 119 claims by OTFDs. Out of the above, 35 claims of STs and 16 claims of OTFDs were rejected.

The State has to file an affidavit indicating why after the rejection of the claims, which have attained finality, eviction has not been made. The Chief Secretary shall ensure that where the rejection orders have been passed, eviction is carried out.

Uttar Pradesh

In UP, 31,846 claims were filed by STs and 50,442 claims by OTFDs. Out of the above, the State rejected 20,494 claims of STs and 38,167 claims of OFTDs.

The State now has to file an affidavit indicating why after the rejection of the claims, which have attained finality, eviction has not been made. The Chief Secretary should ensure that where the rejection orders have been passed, eviction is carried out.

West Bengal

The affidavit filed by the State of West Bengal indicated that 95,958 claims were made by STs and 36,004 claims were filed by OTFDs. Out of the above, 50,288 claims of STs and 35,856 claims of OTFDs have been rejected.

The Court directed the State to file an affidavit indicating why after the rejection of the claims, which have attained finality, eviction has not been made. The Chief Secretary should ensure that evcition is carried out in cases wherein the rejection orders have been passed.

Manipur

The counsel appearing for the State of Manipur stated that the State will file a compliance affidavit within four weeks. The Court accepted the same.

Directions to Forest Survey of India

The Court ordered the Forest Survey of India (FSI) to make a satellite survey and place on record the encroachment positions. The FSI also has to indicate the positions after the eviction.

Read the order below.

Eviction-of-Adivasis.pdf
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