18, Oct 2018 | CJP Team
In a big victory for forest workers and Adivasis who had been filing claims under the Forest Rights Act 2006, the Allahabad High Court has not only recognised forest rights, but also ruled that the harassment of claimants be brought to an end immediately.
Earlier this year the Swaraj Abhiyan Committee had discovered that 90 per cent of the claim applications under forest rights filed by the Adivasis in the Sonebhadra region were rejected without any notice or hearing. In many villages, the claims were not even accepted. At the same time, the forest department was evicting the claimants from the forest land. But on October 11, the Allahabad High Court passed an order in favour of claimants all over the country and in favour of forest rights defenders.
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“It is open to the members of the petitioners’ association to make individual application under Section 6 of the Act for seeking recognition of their forest rights, within a period of six weeks from today. If such applications are made, the Gram Sabha/authority shall consider the same and take a decision as expeditiously as possible and preferably within a period of 12 weeks therefrom,” the court order said.
They ordered that in these 18 weeks no claimant will be harassed. According to the High Courts Order, the Gram Sabha or authority under the provisions of the Act has to consider and decide their applications within 12 weeks.
This order has been passed by Justice Dilip B. Bhosale and Yashwant Varma on the PIL filed by the Adivasi Vanvasi Maha Sabha.
The member of state Swaraj Abhiyan Committee Mr. Dinkar Kapoor said that last year in a field visit by a team, they found out that 90 per cent of the claim applications under forest rights filed by the Adivasis in this tribal belt were rejected without giving any notice or hearing. In many villages, the claims were not even accepted. At the same time, the forest department was evicting the claimants from the forest land. After this field trip, the Adivasi Vanvasi Mahasabha drafted a fact-finding report and a PIL was filed in the high court based on it. On the first hearing of this petition, the High Court had put a stay (banned) on the harassment and eviction of the claimants by the authorities.
The High Court has ordered to restart the process under the Forest Rights Act. The entire order may be read here: