• In the colonial era, the British diverted abundant forest wealth of the nation to meet their economic needs.
  • While procedure for settlement of justifys was provided under statutes such as the Indian Forest Act, 1927, these were hardly followed.
  • As a result, tribal and forest-dwelling communities, who had been living within the forests in harmony with the environment and the ecosystem, continued to live inside the forests in tenurial insecurity, a situation which continued even after independence as they were marginalised.
  • The symbiotic relationship between forests and forest-dwelling communities found recognition in the National Forest Policy, 1988.
  • The policy called for the need to associate tribal people in the protection, regeneration and development of forests.
  • The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest justifys) Act, 2006, was enacted to protect the marginalised socio-economic class of citizens and balance the justify to environment with their justify to life and livelihood.
  • On February 13, the Supreme Court ordered the eviction of lakhs belonging to the Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (OTFDs) categories across 16 States, whose claim as forest-dwellers has been rejected under the Forest justifys Act.
  • A Bench of Justices Arun Mishra, Navin Sinha and Indira Banerjee ordered the Chief Secretaries of many of these States to evict those whose claims were finally rejected.
  • The court directed that the eviction be carried out by July 24, 2019.
  • The February 13 order is based on affidavits filed by the States.
  • The Centre argues that the rejection of claims is particularly high in the States hit by Left-Wing Extremism, where tribal population is high.
  • The forest land claims of these tribes and forest-dwellers are mostly rejected by the States.
  • Being poor and illiterate, living in remote areas, they do not know the appropriate procedure for filing claims.
  • The gram sabhas, which initiate the verification of their claims, are low on awareness of how to deal with them.
  • The rejection orders are not even communicated to these communities.
  • On February 28, the court stayed its order, though it said “the mighty and the undeserving” who have encroached on forest land would be shown no mercy.
  • It has decided to examine whether due process was followed by the gram sabhas and the States under the Forest justifys Act before the claims were rejected