Case Description

The Supreme Court is assessing the constitutional validity of the Forest Rights Act 2006.

Background

In 2008, Wildlife First and a series of other environmental organisations moved the Supreme Court to assess the constitutional validity of the Forest Rights Act (Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006). They argue that the Act has led to deforestation and encrochment upon forest land.

 

Individuals seeking to be granted rights under the Act must be able to demonstrate that they have been and continue to either (i) reside on forests or forestland, or, (ii) dependent on forest produce for their livelihood. The Act recognises two classes of persons who are elligible to claim rights under it:

  • Forest Dwelling Scheduled Tribes
  • Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (OTFDs) - communities who have been dependent on forests for a minimum of 75 years.

 

One of the petitioners' main prayers was to seek the recovery of forest land enroched upon by individuals who had their claims to land under the Forest Rights Act rejected.

 

In 2014, the petitioners filed an interlocutory application, requesting the Court to order States to evict illegal forest dwellers.

 

On 13th February 2019, the Supreme Court ordered States to evict all individuals who had their claims rejected under the Act by 24th July 2019. Further, it directed the Forest Survey of India to conduct a satellite survey and place on record encroachment positions before and after evictions. Finally, it directed the Chief Secretaries of various States to submit affidavits explaining why they had up until now failed to evict individuals, who had had their claims rejected.

 

Note that the Supreme Court directed its order towards the following States:

  • Andhra Pradesh: ~ 66,500 claims rejected
  • Assam: ~ 27,500 claims rejected
  • Bihar: ~ 4500 claims rejected
  • Chhattisgarh: ~ 20,000 claims rejected
  • Goa: Yet to adjudicate on ~ 10,000 claims
  • Gujarat: Yet to adjudicate on ~ 1,82,000 claims
  • Himachal Pradesh: Yet to adjudicate on ~ 2500 claims
  • Jharkhand: ~ 28,000 claims rejected
  • Karnataka: ~ 1,75,000 claims rejected
  • Kerala: ~ 1000 claims rejected
  • Madhya Pradesh: ~ 3,50,000 claims rejected
  • Maharashtra: ~ 22,000 claims rejected
  • Odisha: ~ 1,49,000 claims rejected
  • Rajasthan: ~ 37,000 claims rejected
  • Tamil Nadu: ~ 9000 claims rejected
  • Telangana: ~ 82,000 claims rejected
  • Tripura: ~ 68,000 claims rejected
  • Uttarakhand: < 100 claims rejected
  • Uttar Pradesh: ~ 58,500 claims rejected
  • West Bengal: ~ 86,000 claims rejected
  • Manipur

 

Issues

2) Is the process for filing claims under the Recognition of Forest Rights Act, 2006 valid?

1) Is the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 constitutional?

Judges
Case Number
Parties Involved
Lawyers
Case Timeline