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Rights of Tribals in India

Rights of Tribals in India | The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006

India has the second largest tribal concentration in the world spread across various parts of the country, mainly in forests and hilly regions. The characteristics of these communities are their particular geographical location, distinct culture, economic backwardness and aloofness from the society at large. The tribal communities are largely dependent on forests for their survival therefore safeguarding their rights and interests are essential. The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 also known as the Forest Act is enacted to protect these forest dwellers from encroachment and to ensure their well- being.

The rights of tribals in India are mainly contained in Section 3 of Chapter 2 and Section 4 of Chapter 3 of the The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006. Types of rights under the act are as follows:

Rights of Tribals in India | The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006

  1. Right to hold and live in the forest land under the individual or common occupation for habitation or for self-cultivation for livelihood by a member or members of a forest dwelling Scheduled Tribe or other traditional forest dwellers;
  2. Community rights such as nistar, by whatever name called, including those used in erstwhile Princely states, Zamindari or such intermediary regimes;
  3. The right of ownership, access to collect, use, and dispose of minor forest produce includes all non-timber forest produce of plant origin) which has been traditionally collected within or outside village boundaries;
  4. Other community rights of uses of entitlements such as fish and other products of water bodies, grazing (both settled or transhumant) and traditional seasonal resource access of nomadic or pastoralist communities;
  5. Rights including community tenures of habitat and habitation for primitive tribal groups and pre-agriculture communities;
  6. Rights in or over disputed lands under any nomenclature in any State where claims are disputed;
  7. Rights for conversion of Pattas or leases or grants issued by any local council or any State Govt. on forest lands to titles;
  8. Rights of settlement and conversion of all forest villages, old habitation, unsurveyed villages and other villages in forest, whether recorded, notified or not into revenue villages;
  9. Right to protect, regenerate or conserve or manage any community forest resource which they have been traditionally protecting and conserving for sustainable use;
  10. Rights which are recognised under any State law or laws of any Autonomous Dist. Council or Autonomous Regional Council or which are accepted as rights of tribals under any traditional or customary law of the concerned tribes of any State;
  11. Right of access to biodiversity and community right to intellectual property and traditional knowledge related to biodiversity and cultural diversity;
  12. Any other traditional right customarily enjoyed by the forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes or other traditional forest dwellers, as the case may be, which are not mentioned in clauses-1 to 11, but excluding the traditional right of hunting or trapping extracting a part of the body of any species of wild animal.[1]

Rights of Tribals in India | The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006

Apart from the above mentioned rights the Constitution has provided some special provisions to these communities for protection of rights of tribals in India.

Rights of Tribals in India | The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006

  1. Article 15 of the Indian Constitution states that the state shall not discriminate any citizen on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them. This explains that every citizen of India is provided equal rights and opportunities without any discrimination.
  2. Government of India has made reservation for the tribes in employment under Article 16(4) of the Constitution of India.
  3. The Government of India has reserved seats in the House of People (Lok Sabha) and State Legislative Assemblies under Article 330 and 332 of The Constitution of India.
  4. Article 19(5) of the Constitution guarantees the tribal people right to own property and enjoy it in any part of the country.
  5. Article 338 of the Constitution of India grants the right to appoint a Commissioner to look after welfare activities of tribes.
  6. Article 46 of the Constitution states that, “The State shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people and in particular, the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.”
  7. Under Article 275 of the Constitution of India the Centre Government is required to give grants-in-aid to the State Government for approved Tribal Welfare Schemes.[2]

Rights of Tribals in India | The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006

In Indira vs. State of Kerela[3], it was held that constitution provides equality in status and opportunity and same is enshrined in Article 15(4). The State is competent to make special provision for the advancement of socially and educationally backward classes of citizens particularly SC’s and ST’s. Article 16(4) provides reservations for appointments in posts for backward classes which includes Scheduled Tribes.


References:

[1]Manifestias.com(2019).TribalRightsInIndia[online].Availableat:https://www.manifestias.com/2019/02/26/tribalrightsinindia/#:~:text=Rights%20including%20community%20tenures%20of,council%20or%20any%20State%20Govt.

[2] Redhal.G & Dahiy.U, (2016) Rights of Tribals in India with respect to Access to Justice.[online].Available at: https://legaldesire.com/rights-of-tribals-in-india-with-respect-to-access-to-justice/

[3] AIR 2006 Ker 1

Rights of Tribals in India and provisions of The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006.

This article is written by Sakshi Jain and edited by Rupreet Kaur Dhariwal.

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