Maharashtra Governor modifies Forest Rights Act 

Published : May 28, 2020 00:00 IST

Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, a file photo. Photo: Vivek Bendre

Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari has modified the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, in its application to Scheduled Areas of the State, enabling rightful claimants of forest rights to appeal against orders of District Level Committees (DLCs) if they choose to do so; this option was not there earlier. 

A press note from Raj Bhavan said that in a notification issued on May 18 in exercise of the powers conferred on him by Schedule V of the Constitution, the Governor modified Section 6 of what is commonly referred to as the Forest Rights Act (FRA). 

The notification is considered significant because it empowers tribal people whose Individual Forest Rights or Community Forest Rights have been rejected by the DLCs constituted under the FRA. 

DLCs had rejected a large number of applications under the Act relating to record of rights. However, there was no provision in the Act for appeal against their decision. 

The notification also said that Divisional Level Committees under the chairmanship of Divisional Commissioners have been constituted to hear the appeals against the decision of the DLCs.  

It specified that in the case of orders passed by DLCs before the commencement of the notification, the appeal shall be made within six months from the date of issue of the notification. In other cases, the appeal shall be made within 90 days from the date of communication of order of the DLC. 

The notification applies in the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996, areas in Maharashtra.