Rescind Dubious CMO Note On Issuance Of Possession Certificates To Non-Tribals In Agency

The Human Rights Forum (HRF) demands that the AP government immediately withdraw the note issued by the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) dated June 14, 2022. The note specifies that possession certificates/enjoyment certificates may be issued to an extent of 1.5 cents to non-tribals for the purpose of housing under the ‘Navaratnalu – Pedalandariki Illu’.

The note states that such granting of possession certificates is not violative of the AP Scheduled Areas Land Transfer Regulation Act, 1959/1970, since there is no transfer of land. This is a specious contention. Ever since the Regulation 1 of 1970 (LTR) was promulgated on 3rd Feb. 1970, not only are non-tribals prohibited from purchasing tribal land, they cannot purchase land even from a non-tribal. The law presumes that all land in the Scheduled Areas originally belonged to the Scheduled Tribes.

Successive governments have done precious little to ensure that the LTR is implemented diligently. They have failed to carry out the obligation to safeguard and protect lands in the Scheduled Areas from non-tribal infringement. This has happened despite the LTR casting an explicit duty upon the State. It is common knowledge that over the decades there has been considerable non-tribal encroachment on to tribal land. These illegalities were made possible because of complicity between officials and non-tribals.

It is worth remembering that the recent CMO note comes in a context of increasing pressure over the past few years by non-tribals to grab even more tribal land in the Agency area. If the instructions in the CMO note are now implemented, it will worsen matters and would pose an imminent danger to Adivasis resident in the Fifth Schedule region. It is bound to enable and further accelerate incursion into tribal lands by non-tribals.

We believe that the CMO note amounts to a brazen abuse of the laudable statutory protections afforded to Adivasis. The note is in open contempt of the letter and spirit of the LTR, the Constitutional provisions laid down in the Fifth Schedule as well as the Supreme Court’s Samatha judgment of July 1997. HRF demands that this dubious and dangerous note be instantly rescinded.

K Sudha
HRF AP State general secretary

VS Krishna
HRF AP&TS Coordination Committee member


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