17 Writ Petitions Filed by Adivasis
High Court, Nagpur Issues Notice
The High Court Nagpur Bench has issued notice to the State of Maharashtra on 23 August in seventeen writ petitions filed individually by seventeen Adivasis all residents of village Yergaon, Taluka Mul. The petitions which are all similar in nature have challenged the orders passed by the District Forest Rights Committee chaired by the District Collector. The District Forest Rights Committee had denied the claims to pattas filed by the Adivasis in January 2022 on the sole basis that the Gram Sabha did not have the required quorum. The Adivasis were informed of the order in May 2022.
The Adivasi petitioners, all from Yergaon village, had encroached upon forest land over several decades and were cultivating the land for their livelihood. They filed their claims under the Forest Rights Act, 2006 to get the patta. Their claims were filed in 2009. Twelve years later, in January 2022 the District Committee rejected their claims on the sole ground that the conditions for quorum of Gram Sabha had not been fulfilled.
It is to be noted that initially the Forest Rights Act 2006 had not prescribed quorum for passing resolution on the FRA claims and had merely provided that Gram Sabha would take decisions on the claims forwarded to it by the Village Forest Rights Committee. However later in 2012 the Rules were amended and the quorum of the Gram Sabha was set at 50% of total voters and 33% women voters present and voting. The Rule is also clear that if there are any problems regarding the Gram Sabha resolution, the same will be sent back for reconsideration but the claim will not be rejected on this ground alone.
Since the FRA does not provide for appeal against District Committee’s orders for tribalsresiding in non-PESA areas, the tribals had no option but to approach the High Court.
The matter came up for hearing before the Single Bench of Justice Avinash G. Kharote who immediately admitted the matter and issued notice to the State. The matter has been kept for disposal on 8th September.
Social workers Sanjay Fulzele and Namdev Kinnake helped the petitioners. The petitioners were represented by Adv. Anand Deshpande and Adv. Kalyan Kumar.
List of Adivasi petitioners
1) Ashok Eknath Kulmethe
2) Namdev Maruti Madavi
3) Baburao Anandrao Kannake
4) Madhukar Waghu Kumhre
5) Sukhdev Ganpat Kannake
6) Alka Kulswami Pendam
7) Vaishali Devanand Kannake
8) Lalshamshah Parshuram Pendam
9) Dilip Maroti Kulmethe
10) Shardabai Dharma Madavi
11) Prakash Eknath Kulmethe
12) Kapurdas Warluji Gedam
13) Pundalik Parshuram Alam
14) Devidas Chirkuta Gedam
15) Dayal Motiram Madavi
16) Hiraji Yograj Madavi
17) Gopal Hanumantu Gedam