The matter pertaining to eviction of Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (OTFDs) whose claims for forest land rights have been rejected under FRA 2006, had come up for hearing in the Supreme Court on 28th February,2019 where Shri Tushar Mehta, the Solicitor General represented the Ministry of Tribal Affairs besides counsels of several States.
The Solicitor General had put across that since 2014, the Ministry had been exhorting the States to carry out effective implementation of the Act.
He also spoke about various letters written to this effect by Ministry of Tribal Affairs to the States and the meeting proposed by Ministry of Tribal Affairs with the State Governments on the process being followed by them in respect of claims filed, rejected as well as the exact details of the rejection cases.
The Court was also apprised on the composition and functions of the State Level Monitoring Committee (SLMC).
The Apex Court gave following important directions:
The Order dated 13th February, 2019 was stayed as regards evictions to be carried out. However, the order relating to the satellite survey to be carried out by the Forest Survey of India (FSI) to place on record the encroachment position was retained at the request of the counsel for Wildlife Trust of India.
The Court directed that the State Governments should file detailed affidavits by 10th July, 2019, giving information regarding constitution of office Review Committees, details regarding the procedure having been followed on the claim applications under the Act as well as the appeals filed against the rejection cases.
The Court also required information to be filed as to the procedure which is to be followed after finally arriving at the rejection cases in each of the States.
The Ministry of Tribal Affairs is holding a meeting with these State Governments on 6th March,2019 to ensure the effective implementation of the directions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court.