Supreme Court puts on hold order evicting lakhs of forest families, rebukes Centre for waking up after years
The Supreme Court on Thursday put its February 13 order asking 17 states to evict nearly one million tribals after their claims of the right to live in forests were rejected under the forest rights act.
The top court had ordered the chief secretaries of these states to evict the tribal and other households whose claims of the right to live in forests were rejected on various grounds, including the absence of proof that the land was in their possession for at least three years. It had also said the eviction should be carried out on or before July 24, the next date of hearing.
The top court on Thursday directed the states to file a detailed affidavit on processes adopted for passing the eviction orders against the tribals and to place the rejection orders of claims on record.
It said the affidavit should also point out who rejected the claim and under which provision of the law. The states will have to also provide information on whether the tribals were served with the rejection order and also whether the various level committees have seen these aspects.
The Supreme Court also pulled up the Centre for “sleeping for several years”. “You just woke up from the slumber,” the court told solicitor general Tushar Mehta who admitted there was a lapse on the part of the Centre.
The Maharashtra government also admitted to its failure to point out the relevant issues on the last date of hearing.
Centre said they had been writing to the states since 2014 and such a situation has arisen due to the non-cooperation on their part.
The court had on Wednesday agreed to take up the Centre’s plea for a relook into the February 13 order. Solicitor general Tushar Mehta on Wednesday mentioned the Centre’s application seeking a stay on the eviction before a Justice Arun Mishra-led bench, which agreed to take it up on Thursday.