[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Accepting Centre’s appeal for urgent listing of its plea seeking a stay on its order to evict nearly 12 lakh forest dwellers whose claims under the Forests Rights Act had been rejected, the Supreme Court today (Wednesday, Feb 27) agreed to hear the matter on Thursday.
On February 13, the Supreme Court had ordered the eviction of over 11 lakh families of forest dwellers whose claims to forestland under the Forest Rights Act, 2006 had been rejected by respective state governments. The court has given the States time until July 24 to complete the eviction process.
The order came on a clutch of PILs filed in 2008 by various organizations like the Bombay Natural History Society and the Wildlife First which claimed to represent the interests of wildlife and of nature. The petitioners had challenged the constitutionality of the Forest Rights Act (FRA) and had, in 2014, sought identification of illegal forest dwellers.
The Centre’s decision to challenge the order came after the SC order delivered on February 13 by a bench of Justices Mishra, Sinha and Indira Banerjee triggered a political uproar.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi had, last week, written to chief ministers of Congress-ruled States which were to be affected by the verdict – Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan – and asked them to move the apex court seeking review of the order. Soon after, chief ministers of some BJP ruled States, Assam in particular, had also decided to seek a stay of the order.
The Centre’s belated move to challenge the eviction order perhaps stems from the realisation that its failure to do so could attract a heavy electoral price in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, despite the renewed public euphoria in favour of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his BJP in wake of the Indian Air Force’s daring strikes at Jaish terror camps in Balakot, Pakistan, on February 26, in response to the Feb 14 terror attack in Pulwama, Jammu & Kashmir.
India Legal reported that with the Congress president drawing first blood on the issue of the court-ordered eviction of tribals and traditional forest dwellers by promptly asking his party’s chief ministers to challenge the move, the BJP felt it could see a reprisal of protests similar to the ones that had broken out across the country last year when the top court diluted the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
The top court’s verdict that diluted the Atrocities Act was nullified by the Modi government through an amendment to the Act hurriedly brought to and passed by the Parliament. The amendment is now under challenge in the Supreme Court which is set to hear the petitions against it for three days starting March 26. The apex court’s decision to dilute the Atrocities Act was attributed by the Opposition to the fact that the Centre had not taken the case seriously in the first place and hadn’t deployed its senior-most law officer, Attorney General KK Venugopal, to argue in defence of the strident provisions of the law
With general elections less than two months away, the Centre cannot allow the Congress-led Opposition to fan already gaining public sentiment about the BJP-led NDA coalition being anti-poor.
Not surprisingly, soon after Gandhi asked Congress chief ministers Kamal Nath, Bhupesh Baghel and Ashok Gehlot to move the top court seeking review of the eviction order, the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, an affiliate of the BJP’s parent organization, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), had issued a statement saying the Modi government must either bring an ordinance to undo the SC order or seek its review. The Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram is among the RSS-affiliates that has, for decades, been working among tribals and forest dwellers – a traditional Congress voter base – and trying to bring this significant electoral block, with evident success, into the BJP’s fold.
The Centre’s plea:
The application filed by Union Ministry for Tribal Affairs claimed that the top court should suspend its order and ask the state governments to submit details of rejection of claims by forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes (FDSTs) and other traditional forest dwellers (OTFDs).
It pointed out that the court issued its order of eviction on February 13 based on the data adduced by the state governments regarding rejection of the claims by the forest dwellers.
“However, the said data did not provide the details of rejection,” stated the plea, adding it has come to light that the claims of FDSTs and OTFDs were rejected in a summary manner where no due opportunity is provided to the claimants.
“It is uncertain whether the data furnished by the state governments accurately indicates whether the rejection orders were passed after observance of due process of law; compliance with principles of natural justice and whether appeal mechanisms have been properly exhausted. Without such information and compliance with the mandate of law in letter and spirit, the eviction of such tribal, would amount to serious miscarriage of Justice,” said the ministry.
It maintained that the forest dwellers and tribals are extremely poor and illiterate people and not well informed of their rights and procedure under the Act.
“They live in remote and inaccessible areas of the forest. It is difficult for them to substantiate their claims before the competent authorities,” stated the plea, adding the FRA is a beneficial piece of legislation and deserves to be construed liberally in favour of the forest dwellers.
The ministry has therefore requested the bench to consider modifying its order of February 13 and direct the state governments to file detailed affidavits regarding the procedure followed and details of the rejection of claims
“And till then the eviction of tribal may be withheld. The eviction of tribal, without such information would cause serious prejudice to such tribal who have been residing in forests for generation,” pleaded the application.
The court order on February 13 had come on a petition, demanding that all those whose claims over traditional forestlands are rejected under the law should be evicted by state governments as a consequence.
In January 2016, the court had directed the state governments to furnish data regarding number of claims rejected and the action taken after the rejection of claim.
Subsequently, reports submitted by the state governments showed that more than 11 lakh claims were rejected, and the bench ordered the authorities to act in accordance with the law after rejection of their claims. The statistics, however, did not clarify whether each claim connote one person or a member of the family or something other.
The state-wise break up of the number of forest dwellers to be evicted as per the Supreme Court order is as follows:
Andhra Pradesh: Claims rejected: 66,351
Assam: Claims rejected: 27,534
Bihar: Claims rejected: 4,354
Chhattisgarh: Claims rejected: 20,095
Goa: Total number of claims pending adjudication by the state government: 10,130
Gujarat: Total number of claims pending adjudication by the state government: 1,82,869
Himachal Pradesh: Total number of claims pending adjudication by the state government: 2,223
Jharkhand: Claims rejected: 28,107
Karnataka : Claims rejected: 1,76,540
Kerala: Claims rejected: 894
Madhya Pradesh: Claims rejected: 3,54,787
Maharashtra: Claims rejected: 22,509
Odisha: Claims rejected: 1,48,870
Rajasthan: Claims rejected: 37,069
Tamil Nadu: Claims rejected: 9029
Telangana: Claims rejected: 82,075
Tripura: Claims rejected: 68,257
Uttarakhand: Claims rejected: 46
Uttar Pradesh: Claims rejected: 58,661
West Bengal: Claims rejected: 86,144
Total number of tribals and traditional forest dwellers at risk of eviction:
Watch: Crocodile comes out of open drain in Hyderabad
The local people informed the city police about the incident. The police further alerted the forest department. The crocodile was spotted at a place where a bridge is being constructed over the drain. Large number of people gathered around to catch a glimpse of the reptile.
A baby crocodile emerged from an overflowing Nala in Chintal basti, Hyderabad during heavy rainfall that took place in the city on Wednesday. The incident has triggered panioc among the local people in the area. People were shocked when the young crocodile came out the drain which was overflowing due to the heavy rainfall in the city.
The local people informed the city police about the incident. The police further alerted the forest department. The crocodile was spotted at a place where a bridge is being constructed over the drain. Large number of people gathered around to catch a glimpse of the reptile. The crocodile had been washed ashore in the flood water. The forest department took the help of the Disaster response force (DRF) to catch the crocodile.
The reptile was shifted to Nehru zoological park in the city. In a similar incident, a seven feet large crocodile had come into Raigadh’s Mangaon after heavy rains on July 22nd 2023. Some locals saw the giant reptile roaming freely on the road in front of Madgaon Kacheri road, Mangaon murthi complex. The locals informed the forest department,. They started an operation to rescue the animal. The operation took five hours and the crocodile was caught. The reptile was shifted to a safe habitat.
A huge crowd of people gathered around to watch the crocodile.In another scary incident a crocodile was seen crossing the Commerce college main road on July 20th 2023 in Kota Rajasthan. The vehicles and pedestrians stopped in their tracks.
Jairam Pandey, deputy conservator of Forest Kota confirmed his staff had informed about the reptile but the crocodile disappeared into the drains. A video shows a three and ahalf feet crocodile crossing the commerce college near Sabji Mandi. Since the city of Kota is situated on the bank of Chambal river, which has a gharial sanctuary crocodiles occasionally enter nearby areas
Rahul Gandhi visits Delhi’s Kirti Nagar furniture market, interacts with carpenters
During the visit, the Congress leader interacted with the carpenters at work and heard their problems
In yet another surprise visit in the national capital, Senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi reached Asia’s largest furniture market in Kirti Nagar. During the visit, the Congress leader interacted with the carpenters at work and heard their problems associated with their daily lives. He also tried his hand at building some furniture items.
Taking to X, formerly Twitter, Rahul Gandhi wrote that today, he went to Asia’s largest furniture market located in Kirti Nagar, Delhi and met his carpenter brothers. He expressed that apart from being hard workers, they are also amazing artists and experts at carving strength and beauty. He added that they talked a lot and he got to know a little about their skills and also tried to learn a little.
Congress too took to social media platform, X and noted that people’s leader Rahul Gandhi met the carpenters and listened to their problems and tried to know and understand their skills closely. The party also shared a few pictures of Rahul Gandhi’s visit to the market in Kirti Nagar. Congress underlined that Bharat Jodo Yatra continues.
As far as reports are concerned, this was Rahul Gandhi’s third such reaching-out exercise in Delhi in the recent past. Earlier, he met fruit and vegetable vendors in Azadpur Mandi in August after a video of a tearful vendor struggling with inflation went viral.
Recently, he also met railway porters at Anand Vihar Railway station and interacted with them to know their concerns. His visit followed a month after the porters of the railway station expressed their desire to meet him. During the course of interaction, Rahul Gandhi assured the porters that he will put forth the issues of porters and auto drivers in front of the central government.
During the last few months, Senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has met people from various frontiers including students, farmers, bike mechanics etc.
Anant Chaturdashi 2023: 2450 idols immersed by 3pm across Mumbai during Ganesh festival
The festival started with Ganesh Chaturthi on September 19 and concluded on the Anant Chaturdashi on Thursday. Mumbai’s Lalbaug area is famous for celebrating the festival with much grandeur.
During the drum beats and chants of Ganpati Bappa Morya various Ganesh Mandals in Mumbai on Thursday started the process of immersion of the Ganesh idols, concluding the 10 day Ganesh festival. According to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation official by 3pm a total of 2452 idols had been immersed, which included 25 of Goddess Gauri, 116 public idols and 2311 household ones.
He said 919 of the 2452 idols were immersed in artificial ponds set up by the civic body. The 919 idols consisted of 12 of goddess Gauri, nine public idols and 898 household idols. Huge crowd of devotees gathered at various places in the city to catch a glimpse of their favourite diety. Decked up idols of Lord Ganesh in various forms and sizes were taken out of Pandals for their final journey accompanies by prayers, dance and music.
The festival started with Ganesh Chaturthi on September 19 and concluded on the Anant Chaturdashi on Thursday. Mumbai’s Lalbaug area is famous for celebrating the festival with much grandeur. The procession of the idols Ganesh Gully and Tejukaya mandals started with the chants of Pudhchya Varshi Lavkar Ya and Ganpati Bappa Morya.
The Lal Baugcha Raja idol that attracts maximum number of devotees started at around 11.30 am. A large number of people were waiting on sides of the road for the final darshan of the idol. Thousands of devotees gathered on the streets of Lalbaug to bid farewell to their favourite diety and witness the vibrant procession of people with the sprinkling of gulal, dance and music.
There was a large gathering of devotees at Lalbaug’s Shroff building to witness the showering of flowers on the Ganesh idols. A large crowd was seen gathered near the main road which lead to Girgaon in South Mumbai.