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Various states are planning to file review petitions on the recent Supreme Court’s Feb 13 order directing Chief Secretaries of 21 states to force out tribals living in forest areas.

As of now, Assam and Chattisgarh have made clear that they are going to file review petitions. Assam govt’s finance and health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said in a tweet: “Assam is going to file review petition without any delay. We are all committed to protect and preserve identity and rights of our tribal brothers and sisters.”

Chattisgarh’s CM also said in a tweet: “In the battle for water, forest and land, we are standing shoulder to shoulder with tribal people. As per direction of Rahul Gandhi, the state government will send its lawyer to defend the forest rights in the Supreme Court on the next date of hearing. If required, the government will file a review petition.”

It is pertinent to note that clamour for review petition was started on Monday when BJP President Amit Shah spoke to Chief Ministers of BJP-ruled states asking them to file review petitions. The Congress President Rahul Gandhi had also asked his party-ruled states to file review petitions.

Shah tweeted: “I have spoken to all CMs of BJP ruled states in the situation arising out of Supreme Court’s order on eviction of Tribals living in Forest Areas. The states will be soon filing review petition and care will be taken to safeguard the rights of our tribals and prevent eviction.”

The apex court had ordered the eviction of over one million forest dwellers mainly comprising of tribal people while acting on a pleas by wildlife NGOs challenging the validity of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006.

The Supreme Court had also said that the eviction should be carried out on or before July 24, the next date of hearing. It had also asked the Chief Secretaries of States to give an account on whether those whose claims to forest land were rejected had been driven out and if not, then why.

—India Legal Bureau  

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