Supreme Court to study forest law

March 28th, 2008 - 9:39 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, March 28 (IANS) The Supreme Court Friday decided to study a central government law giving the right to possess up to four hectares of forest land not only to tribals but to other forest dwellers as well. A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan issued notice to the central government and various state governments on a petition challenging the constitutional validity of the law, known as the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006.

Issuing the notice on the petition filed by Bombay Natural Historical Society, the bench, also known as the Special Forest Bench and including Justices Arijit Pasayat and S.H. Kapadia, sought the various governments’ stand in four weeks.

The petition has challenged the parliament’s competence to enact the law on a matter involving land, which figures in what is known as the State List.

Under constitutional provisions, only state legislatures can enact laws on subjects figuring in the State List.

Senior advocate Raj Panjwani has contended that the provision of the law, which confers the right on forest land to other forest dwellers as well besides tribal people, was a ploy to confer land rights upon encroachers of forest land.

Panjwani pointed out that while provisions of state laws seeking restoration of tribal rights over forest land was never implemented, the new law by the central government recognized rights of non-tribals over forest land in their possession till December 1985.

Panjwani also questioned the provision of the law under which each tribal and other traditional forest dwellers have been granted right on forest land up to four hectares. This, he said, would affect wildlife.

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