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Regular-article-logo Wednesday, 17 April 2024

‘All facts were not placed’ in forest case

The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes cited poor representation of the facts

Basant Kumar Mohanty New Delhi Published 28.02.19, 09:00 PM
Anusuiya Uikey

Anusuiya Uikey Source: NCST website

The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, a constitutional body to safeguard the interest of tribal people, has found the Union government’s approach inadequate in the case that has cast a cloud on the fate of nearly 20 lakh households.

Before the tribal affairs ministry filed a review petition in the apex court to seek a review of the February 13 judgment, the commission had sent a letter citing poor representation of the facts. The apex court on Thursday stayed its order till the next hearing on July 10.

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Last week, the commission had sent a letter to the ministry asking it to file an appeal in the apex court with full facts to undo the February 13 ruling, its vice-chairperson Anusuiya Uikey told The Telegraph.

“All facts were not placed before the Supreme Court. This case was not brought to the notice of our commission. The ministry knew about this case but we did not know. We wrote to the ministry that all the facts be presented to the court through an appeal,” Uikey said.

On February 13, the apex court directed 19 states, including Bengal, to take steps to evict occupants of forest lands whose claims had been rejected under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, also called the Forest Rights Act (FRA).

Uikey said the life of the tribal people had a strong association with jungle and hills and their survival was linked to forest. It would be unfair if 20 lakh families are evicted because a district-level committee headed by the collector has rejected their claims for record of rights.

“The collector’s committee is not the final authority. They can appeal before the state-level committee. All these options have not been exhausted,” Uikey said.

P.S. Krishnan, a votary of social justice, said that bureaucracy does not give desired attention when it comes to protecting the interest of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes.

“Close attention with full understanding of socio-historical facts is often not available in cases pertaining to SCs, STs and OBCs. The correct picture is not placed in proper perspective before the courts, resulting in decisions adverse to the legitimate needs of the deprived sections,” Krishnan said.

Commission chairperson Nand Kumar Sai said that the government should bring an ordinance to undo the Supreme Court judgment.

“This judgment will cause a lot of misery for the lakhs of tribals. My personal opinion is that the government should bring an ordinance,” he said.

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