#India – The Niyamgiri warrior against Vedanta – Sanjay Parikh #mustread


Aparna Kalra  |  New Delhi  June 15, 2013  BS

Though his case files are stacked across four rooms, Sanjay Parikh, the lawyer who thrust a spoke into India-focused miner Vedanta Resources‘ plans, has ensured each is marked neatly.

“This is the Kalahandi case… this is Basmati rice,” he says, as he hops excitedly from one room to another. These are famous cases – one in which the court, petitioned by Parikh, tracked delivery systems for 10 years to prevent starvation deaths; another through which India gave the US a stinging defeat on patents.

The lawyer behind these cases, however, is known only in select human rights and legal circles. It took this reporter three weeks of calls, doorstepping, and a reference from another lawyer to get an interview with Parikh. “Talk about my cases, but why a profile?” he asks at the eventual interview.

‘A balance is required’
The latest case that put the spotlight on Parikh is that of the Niyamgiri forest, where Anil Agarwal-led Vedanta Aluminum Ltd, a unit of London-listed Vedanta Resources, tried to mine bauxite for its shut aluminum plant.

On April 18, Parikh’s arguments in favour of the forest dwellers or tribals seemed to have borne fruit. The court said before allowing mining, a village body, or a Gram Sabha, representing these people, should take their opinion. “Many of the scheduled tribes and other traditional forest dwellers are totally unaware of their rights. They also experience a lot of difficulties in obtaining effective access to justice because of their distinct culture and limited contact with mainstream society,” ruled a three-judge Supreme Court bench, asking Vedanta to await a consensus among the forest dwellers.

Odisha, where the Niyamgiri hills are located, represents Vedanta’s supply chain. India has the world’s fifth largest bauxite reserves of 593 million tonnes, the majority of that in Odisha, according to a Reuters report.

The Niyamgiri debate typifies the puzzle India is faced with – how to mine minerals without hurting indigenous rights and harming to the environment. So sharp has been this debate that it has strengthened the armed Naxal movement.

Back in Parikh’s study, in a single row are stacked the files of cases that bring in money. These relate to rent disputes and yes, crime and murder cases. However, it is clear the lawyer’s heart lies elsewhere. “Somewhere, a balance is required,” says Parikh, 54, talking about the cases he is paid for, as well as his other work. “Those who are coming to you and can pay, you must ask them to pay.”

Among Parikh’s high-impact cases is one where he assisted noted lawyer Indira Jaising in arguments that led to the Supreme Court implementing a ban on use of ultrasound technology to determine the sex of foetuses. A chunk of his cases were those in which he represented environmental activists. “Sanjay has committed himself totally to defending the public interest. He represented the first case the research foundation (Research Foundation on Science, Technology and Ecology) fought to stop Monsanto’s illegal field trials of GMOs (genetically modified organisms),” says Vandana Shiva, an activist who has campaigned against patenting of seeds.

Dharma
Parikh says he was influenced into working on cases voluntarily and without payments during his training as a law intern. Born into an ordinary railway employee’s family from Rajasthan, he graduated in law from Agra University, before being selected to intern with former Supreme Court judge S Rangarajan in 1982. During the period of Emergency, Rangarajan had overturned the arrest of journalist Kuldip Nayyar. Parikh says he learnt moral courage from his mentor.

“I was quite clear there had to be a purpose to life,” says Parikh. “There is in the profession what you call dharma … (by which) the profession is a way of life.”

Parikh, whose two sons are also lawyers, admits it is not easy to comprehend the impact of a law his argument helped draft, or follow-through on its implementation. However, sometimes, one can take the next step, such as action against online advertisements on sex determination by pre-natal clinics based abroad, but targeting Indian parents.

Senior advocate
K K Venugopal, who argued for Vedanta, says of Parikh: “He has been doing a lot of pro bono work. I know that I have been seeing him appear in a number of environment cases… He was not the main opposing counsel. He was one of the main ones. I was opposed by the Union of India, so the solicitor general was appearing… Prashant Bhushan was there. Parikh was there, and played a fairly significant part.”

Parikh’s argument was one of the countervailing arguments in the case – Vedanta and the state of Odisha argued in favour of the mining project. The Indian government, represented by the solicitor general, opposed the project, as did Parikh.


Significant cases
Mandatory declaration of assets and criminal record by a candidate filing nomination as Member of Parliament or Member of Legislative Assembly (In 2003, challenging Union of India)

Petition in 1995, challenging dumping of toxic waste, including ship-breaking activities. SC did not ban the entry of toxic ships into Indian waters, but said prior informed consent was necessary. It set the ball rolling for monitoring toxic waste, including that in Bhopal (challenging Union of India and Gujarat maritime board, a ship-breaking company)

Petition in 1998 challenging field trials of genetically modified Bt cotton. Field trials were stayed a few years, but India planted more than 10 million hectares of genetically modified cotton in 2011 (challenging Union of India and Mahyco, which had an association with Monsanto, the world’s largest seeds company)

 

Raped in India? Better marry your rapist, says G P Mathur retired jurist #Vaw #Womenrights #WTFnews


To Wed Your Rapist, or Not: Indian Women on Trial

By TRIPTI LAHIRI and AMOL SHARMA

[image]Associated PressActivists in New Delhi marched on Parliament earlier this year, protesting in one of several high-profile sexual-assault cases that have focused attention on women’s rights in India.

NEW DELHI—Just weeks after a gang-rape that shocked India, the National Human Rights Commission convened a meeting to discuss what to do about violence against women.

At the January gathering, G.P. Mathur, a retired Supreme Court justice, startled the crowd: He said it can be appropriate for women to marry their alleged rapists, provided the marriage isn’t coerced. In a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal in which he elaborated on his views, Mr. Mathur described such marriages as “compromises” that victims and their families seek in order to avoid the stigma of a public trial.

As India engages in soul-searching after a series of high-profile sexual assaults, prominent lawyers, professors, women’s advocates and even some judges say the views of some of India’s judiciary can be an obstacle to justice. The Indian legal system is built on British common law, and cases are decided by a sitting judge, not by a jury.

There is “a bias that begins in the society and spills over to the courtroom,” in certain sex-assault and domestic-violence cases, said Indira Jaising, an Indian additional solicitor general, a top federal legal-advisory position. She has called for a “gender audit,” an examination of rulings for bias, to be added to the process of elevating judges to higher courts.

“Courts repeatedly talk about getting married as the most important thing for a woman,” said Mrinal Satish, a National Law University professor whose research shows that courts have given shorter sentences to rapists of women judged not to be virgins, compared with rapists of virgins.

The rape of an unmarried virgin was viewed by the courts as “a loss of value because of which she’s not being able to get married,” Mr. Satish said. “It’s not legal reasoning.” He examined some 800 High Court and Supreme Court rape-case appeals decided between 1984 and 2009.

Since the December gang-rape and death of a 23-year-old woman on a bus in New Delhi, there have been widespread calls for better protection for women. The government has toughened rape penalties and vowed to put more female police officers on the beat. In recent weeks, new attacks—including the alleged rape of a five-year-old in Delhi—have sparked fresh protests.

Even though it is unusual for judges to criticize their peers, some are speaking out. A Supreme Court ruling in January expressed “anguish” over remarks by a lower-court judge suggesting that “wife-beating is a normal facet of married life.”

In the Journal interview, Mr. Mathur, the former Supreme Court justice, explained his view on marriage “compromise”—where a woman weds her alleged attacker—saying it can be an acceptable outcome if both people believe they can live happily together. He said victims’ families are often motivated to pursue such arrangements because the stigma of rape might otherwise make it difficult for the woman to marry. He reiterated that “it should be voluntary, a free consent.”

As an example, Mr. Mathur cited a case he adjudicated in 2007 that ended in marriage. In it, a man was convicted of forcing a woman to have a miscarriage, by use of a drug, without her consent, and was sentenced to seven years’ jail time.

[image]Getty Images‘There is a prejudice that plays itself out in judgments,’ says lawyer Vrinda Grover.

During appeal, the woman told the court she had since agreed to what Mr. Mathur called a compromise marriage. As a result, a Supreme Court bench of Mr. Mathur and Altamas Kabir (currently the court’s chief justice) reduced the man’s sentence to time served, about 10 months. Mr. Kabir declined to be interviewed through his secretary. The husband and wife couldn’t be reached for comment.

Mr. Mathur, in the Journal interview, also questioned the extent to which judges should rely on an alleged victim’s testimony. “A grown-up girl who is married or used to sexual intercourse, she can accuse anybody,” he said. “It is very easy for her to say, ‘Yes, this person raped me.'”

The question of a woman’s believability is at the heart of one appeal currently pending in Delhi’s High Court. In the case, a woman alleges she was raped by a friend when she visited his house for lunch.

A lower court ruled that she was lying, citing among other things the fact that she could have scratched the man’s genitals, but didn’t. “Ordinarily, where forcibly sexual intercourse is committed upon a grown up girl there would be…some injuries on the person of accused particularly, if she has long nails,” the 2011 judgment said. The lack of such injuries “indicates that the alleged intercourse was a peaceful affair.”

The trial judge didn’t respond to requests for comment delivered through his clerk. The defense lawyer said his client maintains his innocence.

Indian society can be conservative in its views of male-female relationships. These views found expression in the weeks after December’s gang-rape of a young woman on a New Delhi bus after a night at the movies—an attack that horrified India and the world.

In one instance, a prominent spiritual figure, Asaram Bapu, told his disciples that the victim could have avoided trouble if she had “chanted a prayer, taken one of her attackers by the hand, and called him ‘brother,'” according to a recording of the lecture. He also said, “If stronger laws are made, women will ensnare men with false cases.”

A spokeswoman for the guru confirmed the remarks were Mr. Bapu’s.

Separately, a local lawmaker in Rajasthan state, Banwari Lal Singhal, wrote to a government official saying that one solution to sexual violence is to not wear skirts at schools. Boys use cellphones to “click photos of girls while they wait for the school bus,” he said to the Journal at the time. “This increases social crime.”

In a recent interview, Mr. Singhal said his proposal was intended only for his district. He said another reason for girls to wear trousers or Indian garb, besides preventing sex crimes, is to protect against the desert climate.

In March, in Parliamentary debate over a bill strengthening sexual-violence laws, several legislators suggested that the government was going too far. The law, which ultimately passed, creates new crime categories including stalking.

“You’re saying girls shouldn’t be followed,” said Sharad Yadav, a legislator from Bihar state, according to a Parliament transcript. “Who among us has not followed girls? When you want to talk to a woman she won’t at first, you have to put in a lot of effort.”

Mr. Yadav didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Associated PressThe Indian Supreme Court’s chief justice, Altamas Kabir, has hailed some protesters.

Other lawmakers, however, took an opposing view. “What has happened to us?” said Pinaki Misra of Orissa state, the transcript shows. “There has to be a collective introspection that this country has to undertake.”

Indians pondering the roots of sexism debate many possible influences, from the machismo of swaths of northern India, to mythology, to caste. Caste-rights groups, in fact, say that some violence against women is a backlash against a modern blurring of caste lines. In particular they cite “honor killings,” in which young women and men are killed for forming relationships across caste lines. Mr. Yadav, in the March debate in Parliament, called for shelters for such couples, noting the immense harassment they face.

In a court of law, it can sometimes count against a woman if she has male friends. “There is a prejudice that plays itself out in judgments—if you are friendly with somebody, you are agreeing to making yourself available,” said lawyer Vrinda Grover.

Problems can also arise if a woman is perceived as disobedient to her family. In January the Supreme Court overturned a state-court acquittal of more than 30 men accused of raping a teenager and holding her as a sex slave. The lower court had acquitted based partly on testimony that the girl had once lied to her parents about having given money to a friend that was meant for her school expenses.

The lie suggested she was a “deviant,” the court ruled. The judge also wrote that the young woman appeared to be planning a trip with a male friend, “without any specific plan for marriage and family life with him.”

In an interview broadcast on Indian television earlier this year, one of the justices on the two-person bench, R. Basant, said he stood by the court’s assessment of deviance and its judgment. “She was used for child prostitution,” he said in that interview. “Child prostitution is not rape. It’s immoral.”

Mr. Basant, who now practices as a lawyer, declined to comment. The other judge is deceased.

Some judges are calling for greater awareness about crimes against women. In January, Mr. Kabir, the Supreme Court chief justice, hailed the protesters who took to the streets after December’s bus rape.

Bhagwati Prasad, the chief justice of Jharkhand state until retiring from the bench in 2011, said that judges, like anyone, are influenced by their social conditioning. “You have to forget everything” that happens outside the courtroom, Mr. Prasad said.

He said a court would likely consider it relevant in a sexual-assault case if the woman had prior sexual experience. Still, even in these cases, if the woman doesn’t alter her account under questioning, the court will believe her, he said. “Conviction is only secured when the girl sticks to her statement that, ‘Yes, I have been forced,'” he said.

Mr. Prasad also said that he was aware of cases in which he believed women were the aggressors against men. “I would not say that rape is only committed by boys,” he said. Asked for an example of such a case, Mr. Prasad offered a tale from Hindu mythology of a woman who tries to seduce her stepson.

Some textbooks until recently fostered the idea that it isn’t physically possible for some women to be raped. A 2005 edition of “Medical Jurisprudence and Toxicology,” used in court for guidance on evaluating medical evidence, stated: “In normal circumstances, it is not possible for a single man to hold sexual intercourse with a healthy adult female in full possession of her senses against her will.”

It also stated that women of different social strata should be expected to offer different degrees of resistance to rape. “It is obvious that a woman belonging to a labouring class, who is accustomed to hard and rough work,” would be able to fight off an assailant, it said. But a middle-class woman “might soon faint or be rendered powerless from fright or exhaustion.”

This edition was used until 2011, when these passages were revised. The book now says it is “wrong to stereotype” in instances of rape. It also specifies that “rape is a crime and not a medical diagnosis.”

The 2011 edition, however, still refers to young women as “nubile virgins.” And in cases where assault victims are believed to be virgins, the book recommends a controversial vaginal exam, known as the “two-finger test,” that purports to show whether intercourse was physically possible.

LexisNexis India, which acquired the book’s Indian publisher in 2008, said it will completely overhaul the 2014 edition. “We realize how important this book is for the trial process,” said Abha Thapalyal Gandhi of LexisNexis India. The next edition will have “comprehensive changes” to reflect “gender justice approaches and new medical research.”

The book’s author died in 1954. K. Kannan, a retired justice and one of two editors for the 2011 edition, said, “I should have gone even more aggressively” in reworking the text. “We need to be sensitive,” he said.

Mr. Kannan said he is completely against the two-finger test. “Rape is not a medical thing,” he said. “It is not for doctors to be saying.”

Ved Kumari, a professor in Delhi University’s law school, suggested that adding more female judges, as some have advocated, won’t on its own address the bias issue. She described one female judge confiding in her that she had been “harsher to women litigants because I expected a higher level of adjustment from them compared with the men.” The judge comes from a traditional family, Ms. Kumari said, whereas a woman she has been required to make “a lot of sacrifices” herself.

Ms. Kumari, who also has served as chairwoman of the Delhi Judicial Academy, which provides training to serving judges, blames part of the problem on Indian legal education. Rape laws weren’t taught at Delhi University’s law school when she became a professor more than 25 years ago, she said. She and other colleagues pushed for their inclusion in the mid-1990s, she said. She recalled one male professor who declined to teach that portion of the class, so she did it herself.

The law school’s dean, Ashwani Kumar Bansal, who was a law professor at that time, called the episode a minor one. “Indian morés, ethos, were different” then, he said.

Things started changing in the late 1990s, when a small survey of Indian judges found that 48% of respondents said it was justifiable for a husband to occasionally slap his wife. After that, a group of nonprofit groups launched gender-sensitivity training for judges. The judges would meet with abuse victims and role-play the part of a victim’s parent.

It is difficult for judges to acknowledge that they carry “social baggage” and prejudices, said Samaresh Banerjea, a retired judge from Kolkata High Court. He went through the gender-sensitivity program a few years ago and said it altered his outlook.

Something “clicked in my mind,” he said. “To learn many things, you have to unlearn many things.”

Write to Tripti Lahiri at tripti.lahiri@wsj.com and Amol Sharma atamol.sharma@wsj.com

 

India Rape Ordinance Blasted by Female Activists #Vaw #AFSPA #womenrights


 

By Swapna Majumdar

WeNews correspondent

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Women’s rights activists in India are hailing a voluminous set of far-reaching legal proposals as a triumph of women’s activism. But they denounce a governmental ordinance announced on Sunday as falling far short.

 

NEW DELHI (WOMENSENEWS)–Indian women‘s rights activists are blasting an ordinance promulgated by Indian President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday to amend criminal laws on sexual crimes against women.

They say it was crafted behind closed doors in response to public outcry at a notorious gang rape, does nothing to ensure justice in that particular criminal case and falls far short of measures just proposed by a high-profile committee of legal jurists.

“The government has stealthily passed this ordinance without sharing it with the public and without actually debating and discussing it,” said Kavita Krishnan, secretary of All India Progressive Women’s Association, a group affiliated with the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation.

She said the ordinance “made a mockery” of the numerous measures recommended by a jurist committed, led by former Supreme Court Justice JS Verma, that aimed to bolster the level of legal reprisal for sexual violence.

“All the recommendations that can actually strike at the heart of impunity have been dropped,” Krishnan said.

Women’s groups staged street demonstrations on Monday against the ordinance, which

amends the country’s penal code and code of criminal procedure by replacing the word “rape” with the broader term “sexual assault,” which encompasses stalking, voyeurism, acid attacks, trafficking and sexual harassment as criminal offenses.

The ordinance also says that if a rape victim dies or passes into a vegetative state, the accused could get death and the minimum punishment would be 20 years, something the Verma committee has also proposed.

This ordinance, which took effect after the president signed it, will be brought before the next session of Parliament beginning on Feb 21. Parliament must pass it within six months for it to become a law.

The ordinance came a day after the five young men accused of a deadly gang rape in Delhi in December pleaded not guilty after being formally indicted in a special court on 13 charges, including rape and murder.

Voluminous Recommendations

It was approved by the cabinet at a special meeting convened by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss the voluminous set of recommendations for related national legal reforms released by the Verma committee on Jan 23.

Women’s groups in India have hailed the committee’s 657-page report on criminal law amendments as a triumph of the women’s movement in the country.

On Monday, Finance Minister P Chidambaram, a senior cabinet member, held a press conference to defend the anti-rape ordinance, saying it would deter criminals.

While acknowledging that the ordinance would not have much bearing on the deadly Dec. 16 gang rape case, he said that its provisions on procedural law would help speed completion of the trial.

He reiterated that the government had not rejected any of the Verma committee’s recommendations.

“Some issues, like marital rape and amendments to the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, have not been incorporated in the ordinance because of the diversion of opinion on these issues,” he said.

Chidambaram added that the ordinance was needed as the matter of crimes against women could brook no delay. Only an ordinance could establish a law immediately while the passage of a bill would take time, he said.

The Verma committee’s report raised contentious issues that touch on the complicity of law enforcers in committing sex assault and protecting perpetrators. Among other recommendations, it advises ending criminal immunity for armed forces personnel under the Armed Forces Special Protection Act. The ordinance is silent on that issue.

In a related legal development, the Supreme Court admitted a plea on Monday to lower the legal age of a minor to 16 from 18.

This follows the Juvenile Board’s ruling on Jan. 28 that the sixth person accused in the gang rape case was a minor at 17 years and six months and he could not be jailed for committing the crime.

Seeking Justice

The ruling means he could now be sentenced with a maximum three-year observation at home. The victim’s father took a strong objection to the board’s decision and told TV reporters that he would approach any court or authorities to seek justice for his dead daughter.

The government said consultations would be held to enable a consensus on the issue and that would require a separate bill.

Both the Verma committee and other child rights activists say lowering the age to 16 would violate the rights of children ratified under the international Convention of Child Rights.

A commission of inquiry led by former judge of the Delhi High Court, Justice Usha Mehra, appointed by the Delhi government to look into how the nation’s capital could be made safer, has not yet released its recommendations.

The Delhi police, however, have already said they will recruit 418 female junior inspectors and 2,088 female constables and deploy police vans outside women’s colleges in the capital city. Women can dial the toll-free emergency police number (100) to seek assistance to be dropped home at night by a police van. Police also say they will intensify security between 8 p.m. and 1 a.m. at entertainment hubs in the city.

These measures keep promises that police officials made to women’s groups to improve street safety.

Judicial accountability is also a necessary part of the effort to reduce violence against women, says Indira Jaising, additional solicitor general of India.

“It is important that discrimination against women by judges not be tolerated and the judiciary demonstrates zero tolerance of violence against women in the home and on the streets through its judgments,” Jaising said recently, when a group he co-founded, the Delhi-based Lawyers Collective, released its recent report on the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act. The group found evidence of judicial bias towards women and recommended an official mechanism to monitor the performance of the judiciary.

Swapna Majumdar is based in New Delhi and writes on gender, development and politics.

 

 

#India – Supreme Court says Khap diktats retrograde, illegal #vaw #moralpolicing


By , TNN | Jan 15, 2013, 01.20 AM IST

 
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday said it was an offence to order women not to use mobile phones or to dress in a particular manner and warned that no one can run a parallel matrimony court to issue diktats against the law to harass young couples.

“Imposing a dress code on women and asking them not to use mobile phones, are such orders not socially retrograde? But these are also against the law. How can anyone ask women not to carry a mobile phone,” a bench of Justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana P Desai asked while hearing a PIL which sought protection of young couples marrying inter-caste or within the same gotra from the wrath of khaps.

The bench said this after taking note of the presence of many elders, sporting colourful turbans and belonging to different khaps of UP and Haryana, in the court’s visitors’ gallery. A large number of khap members were also present in the court room in response to the bench’s desire to hear their views on socially retrograde diktats and honour killings.

But the Sarv Khap Panchayat, a conglomerate of 67 khaps in Haryana’s Rohtak district, nonchalantly told the court that it was the family members who lynched girls and boys who marry outside their caste or within the same gotra, unable to resist social pressure and taunts of relatives. Regulating the khaps would not reduce honour killings, it said.

“Such incidents happen only in the peace loving and law abiding people of the village and normally not in mischievous families,” the panchayat said in its written submissions to the court.

The bench questioned the inspector general of police (Meerut zone), additional director general (law and order) of Haryana along with superintendents of police of Rohtak and Jind districts on khap-dictated honour killings. All the police officers said khaps sometimes adopt socially retrograde resolutions but there had been no instance of their members being involved in honour killings.

The cops said it was the family members who indulged in killings of youth who defy caste and gotra barriers. Amicus curiae Raju Ramachandran explained, “Once the khaps issue an order of censure on matrimonial alliance, the family of the involved boys and girls face the prospect of being socially ostracized. To overcome this, they resort to killing of the couple who defied the khap-imposed social barriers.”

The bench wondered why the police of UP and Haryana were “so anxious to give a good conduct certificate” to the khaps but additional advocates general of both states – Gaurav Bhatia and Manjit Singh – sought time to file a proper affidavit on behalf of the police. But counsel for the khaps said in unison, “What the police officers are saying is correct.”

When additional solicitor general Indira Jaising said “the Sarv Khap Panchayat of district Rohatak has admitted that it adjudicates all matters relating to marriage and family”, the bench said, “That means they are running parallel courts.”

The court came to the rescue of Jaising, who was being shouted down by the counsel for khaps seeking time to file their response to the PIL by NGO Shakti Vahini. The NGO’s counsel Ravi Kant said, “Though khaps are directly not responsible for the honour killings, their orders vitiate the atmosphere. There are many instances where the girl’s family had been excommunicated or the girl’s head had been tonsured.”

Jaising said, “There has been a failure on the part of the police to provide security to couples marrying against social norms fixed by khaps.” The bench asked the khaps to file their written submissions not exceeding 10 pages by February 18 and posted the matter for detailed hearing on March 5.

 

Naxalism a result of an oversight of statutes, says SC


 

  
Utkarsh Anand : New Delhi, Wed Oct 03 2012,  Indian Express

Emphasising on validation of rights of tribals and forest-dwellers over the forest lands, the Supreme Court has said that Naxalism was a result of an oversight of constitutional provisions relating to administration of schedule areas and tribes of the country.

“Nobody looks at Schedules V and VI of the Constitution and the result is Naxalism. Urbanites are ruling the nation. Even several union of India counsel are oblivious of these provisions under the Constitution,” said a Bench led by Justice A K Patnaik.

The Bench made a reference to Schedules V and VI as they contain various provisions relating to administration and control of scheduled areas and scheduled tribes in several parts of the country. These provisions apply to states like Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Rajasthan and Northeastern states such as Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram. Essentially these Constitutional provisions, with the help of plethora of judgments by the apex court, act as a guarantee to indigenous people on the right over the land they live in and its produce.

During a recent hearing on fresh guidelines over tiger reserves, the Bench made certain queries from Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaising over the Centre’s proposal to relocate indigenous people who were still living in the core areas of tiger reserves.

The ASG had informed the Bench there were around 43,000 families still residing in core areas of tiger reserves and that the plan was to gradually move them out after proper consultation with Gram Sabhas. On being asked about the legal provisions to support the argument, she also read out from the 2006 Forest Rights Act and the Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act.

Asserting that all stakeholders should first ensure the legal rights of the tribals are not violated, Justice Patnaik said their rights must be settled in accordance with the provisions of the law.

“There is apparently no human-tiger conflict at least as far as these tribals are concerned. Everyone must remember that forests belong to forest-dwellers. British government considered forests of immense value and said through laws that all forests belonged to government. These people were brought down to poverty and they couldn’t earn their living. They will be arrested for consuming the forest produce; such was their law,” said Justice Patnaik.

His concerns were echoed by senior advocate Dushyanat Dave, who said forest-dwellers used to get arrested trying and collect wood or pick fruits from the forests.

The Bench, however, seemed satisfied with the promulgation of the 2006 Forest Rights Act and said this situation was sought to be reversed by the new legislation as it sought to identify their rights.

“One law can make a big difference. Zamindari abolition law is a good example how a law can reverse the situation,” said Justice Patnaik, adding it was not the state but its forest departments’ officers who did not want to give up their control over the forests.

At this, the ASG said the Centre was conscious of its duty towards protecting the rights of forest-dwellers and would relocate them after following the legal process.

 

Archives

Kractivism-Gonaimate Videos

Protest to Arrest

Faking Democracy- Free Irom Sharmila Now

Faking Democracy- Repression Anti- Nuke activists

JAPA- MUSICAL ACTIVISM

Kamayaninumerouno – Youtube Channel

UID-UNIQUE ?

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 6,233 other followers

Top Rated

Blog Stats

  • 1,763,510 hits

Archives

October 2019
M T W T F S S
« Jun    
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031  
%d bloggers like this: