NEW DELHI: Congress president Rahul Gandhi Monday asked chief ministers of the party-ruled states to file a review petition against a Supreme Court order that asked states to ensure eviction of tribals and forest dwellers whose claims to forest land were rejected.
In a letter to chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, Gandhi said in order to pre-empt large-scale evictions, they must file a review petition.
The Supreme Court has 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 have been rejected.
In its February 13 order, the apex court 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.
"For lakhs of tribals and forest dwellers, 'Jal, Jangal and Zameen' is a part of their right to life.
"I have written to the chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Punjab and Puducherry, and deputy chief minister of Karnataka, and urged them for filing a review petition in the Supreme Court in this matter or take other appropriate steps," Gandhi said in a Facebook post.
The Congress chief, in his letter, said the recent order of the Supreme Court deserves urgent intervention.
The apex court's order has directed state governments to evict tribals and other forest dwellers whose claims under the Forest Rights Act have been rejected, he said.
"In order to pre-empt large scale evictions, it would be expedient to file a review petition and take any other action you may deem fit. 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," he said in his letter.
He also referred to a Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) status report on the implementation of the Forest Rights Act and claimed it highlighted that less than 45 per cent of individual forest rights and 50 per cent of community forest rights claims were approved as on April 2018.
"Further, MoTA had pointed out that forest staff often raised 'frivolous' objections leading to rejection. In this backdrop, eviction based rejected claims alone, without a proper review and appeal process violates the due process of law," he said.