After a three-member bench of the Supreme Court (SC) dismissed its writ petition with critical remarks in May, Sundargarh Zilla Adivasi Advocates’ Association (SZAAA) has filed a curative petition challenging the apex court’s ruling.
The latest development assumes significance in the wake of tribal groups in the district becoming increasingly confrontational.
The SZAAA is seeking abolition of four Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) in the tribal-dominated Sundargarh which is a Scheduled Area as per Clause 6(1) of the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution.
SZAAA general secretary Budhua Jojo termed the SC judgment as ‘unfortunate’ and hoped that the curative petition would be heard by a seven-member bench.
Jojo claimed that after the 74th Constitutional amendment, Section 243ZC of Part IX-A overrides the Odisha Municipal (OM) Act, 1950 in Scheduled Area and till date, the Parliament has not enacted any law to this effect. Moreover, Section 6 of the OM Act states that provisions of the Act would not be applicable to Scheduled Area. However, delivering the final judgment in the case between the OZAAA and others versus State of Odisha and others, the Supreme Court bench had ruled that the petitioners proceeded on misunderstanding of facts and relevant provisions of Constitution. Referring to provisions of Constitution and affidavits filed by the Union Government, the bench dismissed the case pronouncing “the entire basis on which the petitioners have built up the case is factually lacking”.
Meanwhile, tribal groups in rural pockets of the district have started to mobilise tribals to ensure strict implementation of the provisions of the Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) (PESA) Act, 1996.
The all India chief of Raji Parha, the highest body of Oraon tribe, Bagi Lakra has written to State Government for strict implementation of PESA Act in the district. Former MLA of JMM Mansid Ekka said his party is also vigorously pursuing the issue. Under PESA Act, Gram Sabhas are supreme decision making bodies and tribals have ‘total control’ over their affairs, he added.
Sundargarh Collector Bhupinder Singh Punia said misinformed elements are fanning trouble and the administration is keeping a watch on the situation.