Does the implementation of the Forest Rights Act, 2006 lead to large scale evictions?

DESK BRIEF: On July 24th, the Court will explore other remedies to better balance the rights of forest dwellers with conservation

In 2008, environmental organisations such as Wildlife First and the Wildlife Trust of India challenged the constitutionality of the Forest Rights Act, 2006. They questioned whether Parliament had the legislative competence to enact the Act.

Though the court is yet to decide the constitutional challenge, in February 2019 it directed States to evict forest dwellers whose claims had been rejected. Over a million forest dwellers were potentially affected. Two weeks later, on February 28th, the court stayed its own order, citing concerns over whether States had followed due process in rejecting claims.

Next Wednesday, July 24th, the court will revisit these issues and explore other remedies to better balance the rights of the Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers with forest conservation. For a possible approach see Sharachchandra Lele’s ‘Forest Governance’, where he proposes a multi-layered governance model for resolving the tension between forest dwellers, conservationists and other key stakeholders.

The next hearing is on Wednesday, July 24th.

SC Observer Desk