“Petition against tribal eviction order”: Rahul Gandhi to Bhupesh Baghel

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday told Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel to file a review petition against a Supreme Court’s order, which asked the states to ensure eviction of tribals and forest dwellers whose claim for the forest land has been rejected.

“The recent order of the honourable Supreme Court of India in Wildlife Trust of India & others vs. Union of India & others 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,” Gandhi said in his letter dated February 23.

The Congress president said “in order to preempt large scale evictions” it would be “expedient to file a review petition” and “take any other action” as deemed fit by Baghel.

“The Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) in its status report on the implementation of the Forest Rights Act highlighted that less than 45 per cent of the Individual Forest Rights and 50 per cent of the Community Forest Rights claims were approved as on April in 2018,” he said.

“Further, the MoTA has pointed out that forest staff often raised ”frivolous” objections leading to rejection,” he said.

He said in this backdrop eviction based on rejected claims alone, without a proper review and appeal process violates the due process of law.

“For millions of adivasis and other forest dwellers ”Jal, Jangal and Zameen” is integral to their Right to Life guaranteed by our Constitution. It is time for us to work towards deepening the promise of India for everyone,” the Congress chief said.

The apex court, in its February 13 order, asked the chief secretaries of the states concerned to file affidavits stating whether those against whom the rejection orders were passed have been evicted or not and if not, the reasons for the same.

On February 21, the Supreme Court asked 21 states to apprise it about the action taken by them over the eviction of tribals and forest dwellers whose claim for the forest land has been rejected.

The states which have come under the scanner of the top court are — Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Tripura, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Manipur.

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