Dear Hon’ble Minister Shri Jual Oram ji,
- You must be aware of the Supreme Court’s order of 13.02.2019 directing 21 States to evict a mind-boggling number, mainly of the Scheduled Tribes (STs) and of some other Traditional Forest Dwellers (OTFDs), in the case of the Wild-Life First and Ors vs the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Ors.
- This implications of the implementation of this order are obvious.
- It appears that your Ministry was not in the picture in this case. In view of the orientation of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, there is room for apprehension that the facts and the Constitutional and legal position pertaining to STs may not have been placed properly before the Court.
- You and your Ministry are in charge of the welfare of the STs. Kindly take urgent steps to see that this order is stayed and got reviewed and revised.
- The first step is to get the order stayed. There is only a small window of time available. Therefore, there is no alternative, but to get an Ordinance issued urgently. Kindly move for this.
- I would also advise you to kindly publicize the immediate emergency step of staying the eviction that you are taking and also publicize that you and your Ministry are taking further steps to protect the interests of STs and also OTFDs whose claims have been wrongfully rejected. This will help allay panic and anxiety among STs and OTFDs. Failure to take immediate action will have the following results:-
(a) It will become a major election issue adverse to the Government
(b) It will create doubts abut he sincerity of Government’s affirmation of commitment to the interests of STs, and
(c) It will give a handle to those who propagate among STs that democratic methods will not secure their legitimate rights from the Governments at the Centre and States and, therefore, armed revolt is the only available course — it is the duty of all of us to prevent such a situation.
- There are a number of other issues arising from this judgment which call for systematic action. I shall write to you about each of them and suggested course of action separately.
S. KRISHNAN, IAS (Retd)
- Former Secretary to Government of India,
- Ministry of Welfare;
- Member, National Monitoring Committee for
- Education of SCs, STs and Persons with Disabilities,
- Government of India.
- Member, National Commission for SCs and STs
- Special Commissioner for SCs and STs
- Member-Secretary, National Commission for Backward Classes
- Member, Expert Committee on Backward Classes
- Chairman, Dr. Ambedkar Foundation Research Cell
- Member, Working Group for Sanitation and Leather Workers
- Advisor, Ministry of Human Resources Development, Govt. of India
- Advisor (BC Welfare) with Cabinet Minister Status to Government of Andhra Pradesh
- Advisor (BC Welfare) with Cabinet Minister Status to Government of Telangana
- Chairman, Sub-Group on “Perspective Planning for Development of SCs” of the
- Planning Commission’s Working Group on SCs in the XII Plan;
- Member, Planning Comm’s Working Group on Empowerment of Scheduled Castes in XII Plan;
- Member, Planning Comm’s Steering Committee on Empowerment of SCs, BCs,
- Nomadic & Semi-Nomadic Tribes and VJs in XII Plan.