NEW DELHI: Eight state governments have informed the Supreme Court that due procedure was not followed by their officers while rejecting claims of tribals over forest land under the Forest Rights Act (FRA) of 2006.
The apex court has continued its stay on the eviction of forest dwellers including Scheduled Tribes whose claims for forest land rights have been rejected.
The affidavits filed by the governments of Rajasthan, Tripura, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Goa, West Bengal, Assam and Maharashtra reveal that due procedure was not followed.
Earlier this year, the apex court had ordered the eviction of 1.89 million forest dwellers whose claims were rejected.
However, the court later stayed the verdict and asked the state governments to explain why the claims were rejected and whether all the evidence was examined before rejecting them.
So far, 17 states have filed affidavits, out of which eight states have categorically stated that claims were wrongly rejected.
Rajasthan government stated that over 39% of the claims are awaiting a final decision while Tripura government said some claims awaited a final decision and were never formally rejected.
It stated the claimants were not informed of their right to appeal before the sub-divisional level committee and sought six months time to re-examine the claims.
Over 62% of the claims in Karnataka got rejected, most of them without making detailed inquiries.
It sought 18 months time to review them. In Chhattisgarh, the process followed for rejection was not in accordance with rules and, hence, a large number of inappropriate rejections were recorded.
Meanwhile, in Goa, almost 68% of the claims still await a final decision as the government said no opportunity was given to the forest dwellers to produce evidence to prove their right over a particular area.
In West Bengal, out of the 1,42,000 claims, over 95,000 (66.9%) were rejected without any proper reason.
In Assam too, claims were rejected without any reason.
The Maharashtra government stated that the district-level committee in most of the cases did not take into account admissible evidence.
A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra has slated the case’s hearing for November 26.