Jharkhand CM winds up special courts, leaders question move

Ranchi, Dec 13 (IANS) Cutting across party lines, tribal leaders of Jharkhand have questioned Chief Minister Raghubar Das’ announcement to do away with the Scheduled Area Regulation (SAR) courts set up to deal with land rights of the state’s tribals.

The SAR courts were constituted under Chhotanagpur Tenancy Act in 1969.

“The chief minister announced an end to the SAR courts without consulting legal experts and political leaders. It is a unilateral decision,” former chief minister and Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajatantrik president Babulal Marandi said.

He said SAR courts were meant to help tribals by stopping illegal transfer of their lands.

“These courts were misused by the land mafias. But instead of the stopping their misuse, the state announced to put an end to the courts,” Marandi said.

Champai Soren, a former minister and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha legislator, said, “It is one of the announcements made by Das. We do not take his announcements seriously as nothing is implemented.”

Soren said the government had failed to come out with an alternative to the SAR courts. “If needed, we will raise the issue in the state assembly.”

Independent legislator Geeta Koda, who is the wife of former chief minister Madhu Koda, said, “The announcement to wind up SAR courts should have been accompanied by an alternative arrangement. The SAR courts were meant to protect the land rights of the tribals. What is the alternative now?”

In Jharkhand, tribals constitute 27 percent of the state population.

The state government has so far failed to notify the chief minister’s announcement made earlier this month.

“We are looking into the legal aspects of the SAR courts. The chief minister seems to be unaware of the Act and announced an end to the SAR courts in a hurry,” an official told IANS.

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