CPI(M) politburo member Brinda Karat has written to Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, raising questions on the absence of a senior legal representative of the central government to defend the Forest Rights Act in the Supreme Court. Ever since the February orders of the Supreme Court for eviction of lakhs of tribal families, a sense of deep insecurity and vulnerability haunts the tribal communities as the subsequent stay order is temporary and tenuous, Karat said in the letter.
"It is a matter of deep concern and objection that on crucial dates of the court hearing, there is no senior legal representative of the central government to defend the law. Yesterday, that is on September 12th, while taking up the case, the court specifically asked whether the solicitor general was present but he was conspicuous by his absence. "There was no one to argue against the fresh applications moved by the petitioners against the interests of lakhs of tribal communities who are forest dwellers," she said.
Karat said after Wednesday's court hearing, there is a strong feeling of unease that the absence of top law officials is not by coincidence but by connivance. This feeling gets strengthened when it is known that the Ministry of Tribal Affairs had specifically written to people concerned to ensure the presence of the SG. "In a recent response to my concerns regarding the draft amendments to the Forest Act 1927, you had said that your Ministry is committed to protect the rights of tribal communities. I regret to say that this is not seen in the role of the MOEFCC in most critical issue of challenge to the Forest Rights Act in the Supreme Court case.
"The next date of hearing is fixed for November 26th. I hope you will personally give it some attention so as to take corrective measures," she wrote.
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