NEW DELHI: Nine scholars and researchers have appealed to the Supreme Court to be heard in the ongoing Forest Rights Act case.
The list of applicants include eminent historian Ramachandra Guha, sociologist Nandini Sundar, Geetanjoy Sahu from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Amita Baviskar of the Institute of Economic Growth, Sharachchandra Lele of the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment, Arupjyoti Saikia from Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati, Raman Sukumar from the Center for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Sciences, M D Madhusudan from Nature Conservative Foundation and author Pradip Krishen.
In the application, the scholars and researchers said there was a need to deploy rigorous scientific principles, data and analysis in order to ‘understand the state of affairs, including the history, spirit, letter and actual implementation of the FRA, to correct ongoing misapprehensions, and misinterpretations of the law and of the facts in this matter, and to recommend steps that are most suitable for simultaneously upholding environmental and social justice goals’.
The applicants would be party to the case if the application is accepted by the court. The FRA hearing scheduled for July 24 has been deferred to Thursday now.
The scholars in the application have mentioned that the promises made in the FRA to undo the historic injustice of forest dwellers and to strengthen community-based forest conservation has not been fulfilled.
The application said the group has ‘first-hand’ field experience of forest and forest dwellers situations in Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Meghalaya, among other states and the application was in order to assist the court with ‘facts and data’.
On February 13, the Supreme Court had ordered the eviction of tribals whose claims were rejected. Later, the order was stayed and the states were directed to file affidavits on the implementation of FRA.