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GOVERNMENT WITHDRAWS DRAFT BILL TO AMEND FOREST ACT

Written by Talent KAS

Related Topic in KAS Prelims Syllabus:

Social Justice [Paper-I]: Rights Issues (Human rights, Women rights, SC/ST rights, Child rights, etc.), Important Acts

News

  • Union Environment Ministry withdrew a draft amendment that proposed updates to the Indian Forest Act, 1927.
  • The draft amendment had sparked a controversy over its approach towards forest dwellers and provisions for additional indemnity to forest officers.

Indian Forest Act, 1927

  • The Indian Forest Act, 1927 was largely based on previous Indian Forest Acts implemented under the British.
  • The preamble to the Indian Forest Act, 1927 states that the Act seeks to consolidate the law relating to forests, the transit of forest produce and the duty that can be levied on timber and other forest produce.
  • It also defines the procedure to be followed for declaring an area to be a Reserved Forest, a Protected Forest or a Village Forest.
  • It defines forest offence, acts prohibited inside a Reserved Forest, and penalties leviable on violation of the provisions of the Act.

Why the draft law was withdrawn?

  • The zero draft proposed in March 2019, had sparked protests among various tribal organizations over some of the proposed changes, which pitted the forest-dwellers against the government.
  • The proposed bill had been criticised for further empowering forest officials, who continue to enjoy significant discretion and powers under the existing act.
  • It was argued that the bill would give government the power to divest the forest dwellers of their rights.
  • It envisaged granting the forest bureaucracy powers to raid, arrest, search and seize property and even shoot to kill with a degree of immunity that is usually provided to other government officers.
  • As per the Union Minister, It was a ‘zero draft and was mistakenly taken as a ‘government draft’ and circulated.
[Source: The Hindu]

 

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