Special courts for tribal land rights to continue in Jharkhand

Ranchi, Jan 28 (IANS) The Tribes Advisory Council (TAC) of Jharkhand decided here on Thursday that Scheduled Area Regulation (SAR) courts will continue to exist, but the system of transferring tribals’ land after giving them compensation will end.

“The SAR court is a constitutional provision that cannot be ended. We want to continue with such provisions to protect the land rights of the tribals,” Ratan Tirkey, a member of the TAC, told reporters after the meeting chaired by Chief Minister Raghubar Das.

The members agreed that the SAR courts were being misused and land of the tribals was being transferred after giving compensation to them through court directives.

Now this way of transferring tribal land to non-tribals will come to an end.

Chief Minister Das had announced in December that the SAR courts, set up in 1969 under Chhotanagpur Tenancy Act, 1908, would stop functioning, inviting criticism across the political spectrum.

“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 had said.

Marandi had admitted that the SAR courts were being misused by the land mafias, but “instead of stopping their misuse, the state announced an end to the courts”.

The opposition parties had demanded to know what alternative of the SAR courts had the state government proposed.

In the meeting on Thursday, Chief Minister Das expressed concern over misuse of the compensation system to transfer tribal land.

The meeting decided to expedite 4219 cases pending in the SAR courts. The meeting also agreed to include in the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act projects like railways, roads, electricity, canal, schools and hospitals for which land could be given.

Currently, land could be given only for industries and mining.

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