Post on Forum |
My Forum Contribution |
July 10, 2007
This rule confers rights over ‘disputed lands’ i.e. those forests, sanctuaries, national park lands where the final notification has yet not been issued. Rule 16 (2) shifts the onus of proof on the
State by declaring that “the presumption of rights over such disputed lands shall be in favour of the claimant unless otherwise decided.”. This presumption places the persons in illegal possession of the alleged disputed lands at an
advantageous position in comparison to those who are in possession of other forestlands. In the case of persons who are in possession of non-disputed forestlands the onus is on them to prove their possession by producing evidence as enumerated in Rule 31.
This classification in favour of disputed land occupiers is arbitrary. Secondly, the term ‘disputed land’ is vague and has not been defined under the Act nor explained under the Rules. Thirdly, the power conferred on the Gram Sabha and other executive bodies
to decide on the “non-adherence to due process of laws” in Rule 16 (1) is
contrary to all prevailing jurisprudence. The issue whether an action or order is in violation of the due process clause can only be decided by a judicial authority. It is a judicial function and cannot be conferred on any of the executive authorities
created or referred to under the said Act or Rules.
The incorporation of the clause “who may have been evicted without due process of law; pattas in forest villages and pattas issued but cancelled or extinguished without following the due process of
law” in Rule 17 is illegal for the reasons stated above under Rule 16.
Duties and functions conferred under the said Rule are in violation and disregard of the provisions of Part IX of the Constitution and the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996.
RULE 31 (4) (a):-
Admitting the claims of ‘other traditional forest dwellers’ on the basis of physical attributes/traditional structures/pictures would be travesty of justice particularly due to the exclusion of the
Evidence Act. It’s a loophole which would lead to wide abuse as there would hardly be any one alive who could possibly vouch on the existence of an un-recorded structure to the effect that it has been in existence for the last over 75 years. A person vouching
on the existence of 75 years old structure need to be atleast (75+12 =87) years old. Secondly, pictures by themselves would not establish the 75 plus years antiquity of such physical attributes/traditional structures.
RULE 31 (4) (b):-
The clause “recognized as having been legitimate resident of the village at an earlier period of time” as applicable to ‘other traditional forest dwellers’ is again vague and subject to interpretation
which could be either way. It is suggested that proof for recognition of residence should be recorded in a public document and not a private document or oral statements.
(Continued in next post)
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