On Sunday, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel said that his government, if required would file a review petition to defend the rights of the tribal community after their claim as forest dwellers were rejected by the Supreme Court, under 2006 Forest Rights Act.
CM Baghel tweeted: “In the battle for water, forest, and land, we are standing shoulder to shoulder with tribal people. As per direction of Rahul Gandhi, the state government will send its lawyer to defend the forest rights in the Supreme Court on the next date of hearing. If required, the government will file a review petition.”
The reply of the Chhattisgarh Chief Minister came a day after the Congress Chief Rahul Gandhi wrote him a letter, seeking for his immediate intervention in the judgment of the Supreme Court.
On February 13, the Supreme Court has directed the Chief Secretaries of 21 states to oust those, who claims as forest dwellers have been dismissed under the law. It further said that the dislodgement should be carried out on or before July 24, which is the next date for the top court’s hearing.
In a letter, Mr. Gandhi wrote: “The recent order of the Supreme Court deserves your urgent intervention. The court has directed state governments to evict tribals and other forest dwellers whose claims under the Forest Rights Act were rejected,” adding that “the Ministry of Tribal Affairs in its status report on implementation of the Forest Rights Act highlighted that less than 45 percent of the individual forest rights and 50 percent of the community forest rights claims were approved in April 2018.”
Mr. Gandhi also said, “Further, the ministry has pointed out that forest staff often raised frivolous objections leading to rejection.”
Rahul Gandhi letter to the Chhattisgarh Chief Minister reads, “In this backdrop, eviction based on rejected claims alone, without a proper review and appeal process, violates the due process of law. To pre-empt large-scale evictions, it would be expedient to file a review petition and take any other action you may deem fit.”
He also said that millions of Adivasis and other forest dwellers, ‘jal, jangal, and zameen’ is inherent to their Right of Life Guaranteed by our Constitution, added Mr. Gandhi.