Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Supreme Court Order on Buffer Zone Case

Supreme Court Order 
on Buffer Zone Case
Date: 05/03/2013  
UPON hearing counsel the Court made the following ORDER
This petition is directed against order dated  2.7.2009  passed  by  the Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court whereby the appeal filed by the petitioners was dismissed and the order passed by  the  learned Single Judge quashing notification dated 30.10.2007 issued by  Special Secretary  (Tribal  Welfare)  and  order  dated  6.11.2007  issued  by Tehsildar were quashed.
During the pendency of the special leave petition, several interim orders were passed by the Court. On  2.7.2012  the  Court  passed  the following order:
"On 11.5.2012, arguments were heard in  the  context  of  letter dated  10.5.2012  sent  by  the Principal   Secretary   (Tribal Welfare), Andaman and Nicobar Administration to  the  Additional Solicitor General and the order was reserved.
In the main petition, the petitioners have  questioned  the judgment of the Division  Bench  of  the  Calcutta  High  Court, Circuit Bench at Port Blair whereby the appeal preferred by them against the order of  the  learned  Single  Judge,  who  quashed notification dated 30.10.2007 issued under Section 3(1)  of  the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Protection of  Aboriginal  Tribes), Regulations, 1956 (for short, 'the 1956 Regulations')  declaring an area upto five km. radius around the Jarawa Tribal Reserve as Buffer Zone and prohibiting entry in  the  Buffer  Zone  of  any person other than a member of an aboriginal tribe was dismissed.
Notice in the special leave petition was issued on 8.3.2010 and operation of the judgment impugned therein was stayed. 
On 3.12.2010,  this  Court  expressed  the  view  that  the petitioners have not taken steps to implement  the  notification and directed their counsel to make a statement on the  issue  of closure of all commercial and tourist establishments within  the Buffer Zone. Thereafter, several interim orders were  passed  by the Court for ensuring faithful compliance  of  the  prohibition contained in the notification issued under Section 3(1)  of  the 1956 Regulations.
On 3.2.2012, the  Court  appointed  S/Shri  T.  S.  Doabia, Senior Advocate and Sanjay Upadhyay, Advocate, whose names  were suggested by the counsel for the parties, as Court Commissioners with the direction that they shall visit the Island mentioned in the  notification  and  submit  report.  In  compliance  of  the directions given by the Court, the two Commissioners visited the Island and submitted their separate reports. On  23.4.2012,  the Court noted the submission  made  by  learned  counsel  for  the respondent that the Commissioners had not focused on  the  issue mentioned in order dated 4.11.2011 and directed the counsel  for the  petitioners  to  seek  comprehensive  instructions  on  the question of stopping commercial and tourism  related  activities  within the Reserved Area and the Buffer Zone.
 In compliance of the aforementioned direction, the learned Additional Solicitor General produced  letter  dated  10.5.2012, the relevant portions of which are extracted below: 
"This is  in  continuation  to  our  letter  dated  3/5/2012 referred to above and discussion held today  with  you,  the following brief may kindly  be  placed  before  the  Hon'ble Supreme Court in the hearing of 11/5/2012 as directed by the Hon'ble Court in its order dated 23/4/2012,
1.  No  tourist  establishment  such  as  resorts,   hotels, restaurants, bars and paying guest accommodations except the government run Guest Houses will  be  permitted  within  the Buffer Zone.
2. No commercial establishment/activities which  may  employ more than 20 persons or have  annual  turnover  of  Rs.  One Crore or more will be allowed in the Buffer Zone.
3. Visits of tourists during day time to Lime Stone Cave and Mud Volcanoes existing in Baratang Island in the Buffer Zone may be allowed to be continued.
                                                           Yours faithfully,
                                                               (Ajai Saxena)
                                       Principal Secretary (Tribal Welfare)"
Learned counsel for  the  parties  made  their  submissions mainly on the issue of continuance  of  commercial  and  tourism related activities within the Reserved Area and the Buffer Zone. While Ms. Indira Jaising, learned Additional  Solicitor  General submitted that  till  a  decision  is  taken  by  the  competent authority on  the  issue  of  allowing  commercial  and  tourism related activities within the Buffer Zone, the Court may  permit the activities specified in paragraphs 2 and 3 of the letter  of the Principal Secretary, Shri S. Ganesh vehemently  opposed  the continuance of any such activity in the Reserved  Area  and  the Buffer Zone by pointing out that the  prohibition  contained  in Notification dated 30.10.2007 and order dated  6.11.2007  issued by Tehsildar, Ferrargunj is absolute. Shri Ganesh submitted that after forced closure of the respondent's resort, the petitioners can neither  undertake  nor  allow  any  commercial  or  tourism related  activity  in  contravention   of   Notification   dated 30.10.2007.
We have considered the respective submissions. Notification dated 30.10.2007 which was challenged before the High Court  and which is under consideration in the special leave petition reads as under:
"EXTRAORDINARY Published by Authority No. 243, PORT BLAIR,
Directorate of Tribal Welfare
Port Blair, dated the 30th October, 2007
No. 234/2007/F.No. 1-752/2007-TW - In exercise of the  power  conferred by Sub-Section (1) of Section 3 of the Andaman and Nicobar   Islands   (Protection   of   Aboriginal   Tribes), Regulation,  1956  (Regulation  No.  3  of  1956),  the  Lt. Governor, A & N Islands, is pleased to declare the  area  up to five km. radius around the Jarawa Tribal Reserve notified vide  No.  159/2004/F.No.  1-752/2002-TW  (PF)  dated   15th September,  2004  from  the  Boundary  Line  starting   from Constance Bay in South Andaman to Lewis Inlet Bay in  Middle Andaman, as a Buffer Zone. Any/person other than a member of an aboriginal tribe is prohibited from entering  the  Buffer Zone for any commercial and/or tourism activities."
In  our  view,  the  prohibition  contained  in  the  above reproduced notification and  order  dated  6.11.2007  passed  by Tehsildar, Ferrargunj  is  unconditional.  Therefore,  till  the notification is rescinded or amended, no commercial  or  tourism related activity can be allowed within the Reserved Area or  the Buffer Zone and it is not possible for the Court to approve  the suggestions contained in paragraphs 2  and  3  of  letter  dated 10.5.2012 sent by  the  Principal  Secretary  (Tribal  Welfare), Andaman and Nicobar Administration. We, therefore,  direct  that henceforth no commercial and tourism related activities shall be carried out by the administration or any private  individual  in violation of the prohibition  contained  in  notification  dated 30.10.2007 and order dated 6.11.2007.
It shall be the duty of  the  Principal  Secretary  (Tribal Welfare) and other officers of the Administration of Andaman and Nicobar to ensure total compliance of the prohibition  contained
in notification dated 30.10.2007 and this order. Any  breach  of this order will entail punishment under the Contempt  of  Courts Act, 1971."
On 21.1.2013, the Court passed the following order: 
"At the commencement of the hearing learned Additional  Solicitor General produced before the Court xerox copy of the  Notification dated 17.1.2013 issued by  Lieutenant  Governor  (Administrator), Andaman and Nicobar Islands and a site map indicating the  Jarawa Reserved Area. 
The documents produced by the Additional Solicitor General are taken on record.
The learned Additional Solicitor General  should  instruct the officer-in-charge of the case to file an additional affidavit along with the detailed plan of Reserved Area as  far  as  Buffer Zone indicating therein particular spots of settlement,  if  any, in the reserved area.
For further consideration, the case is adjourned to 26.2.2013.
Till the next date, the petitioners may allow entry of the Government officials and the persons who are settled within the Reserved Area.  The  movement  of  the  vehicles  required   for transportation of essential commodities meant  for  Jarawa  Tribe and other communities living in the Reserved  Area  may  also  be permitted. However, no private individual or tourists  shall  be allowed to pass through the road by using a vehicle or  otherwise for going to the caves."
In compliance of the aforesaid order an additional affidavit has been filed by Shri Kuldip Singh Thakur, Deputy Resident Commission, Andaman and Nicobar Administration, paragraphs 3 to 6, 17 to 19 and 21 of which read as under:
"3. That in pursuance of order dated  9.4.2001  of  the  Hon'ble High Court of Calcutta passed in WP No.048  of  1999,  (Annexure P/1 at Pg 194-196 of the  SLP  Paper  book)  the  Government  of
India, Ministry  of  Home  Affairs,  in  consultation  with  the Government of India, Ministry of Tribal Affairs and Andaman  and Nicobar Administration finalized a policy  on  Jarawa  Tribe  of Andaman Islands, taking into consideration  the  recommendations of the  Experts,  National  and  International  Anthropologists, Socialists and other experts in various fields.
4.  That exercising the powers under sub section (1) of  Section 3 of the Andaman and Nicobar Island  (Protection  of  Aboriginal Tribes) Regulation,  1956  and  taking  into  consideration  the recommendations of Andaman Adim Janjat Vikas Samiti to  increase the resource base of  Jarawas,  the  Lt  Governor,  Andaman  and Nicobar  Islands  notified  the  Jarawa  Reserve  Area  in   the specified areas  in  South  and  Middle  Andaman  District  vide Notification No 165 dated 15.09.2004 published  in  Andaman  and Nicobar Gazette, Extraordinary (Annexure P/2 at Pg  197  of  the SLP Paper book). That the Jarawa Reserve  area  is  covering  an extent of 1028 That it is clarified that there is no  one residing within  Reserve  Notified  Area.  In  fact  no  one  is permitted to reside in the Reserved Area other than  the  Jarawa Tribe. There are no  settlement  villages  in  Reserve  Notified Area.
5. That simultaneously, the Policy on Jarawa  Tribe  of  Andaman Islands was notified on 21st December, 2004,  vide  Andaman  and Nicobar Gazette Notification No. 210 dated 21.12.2004  (Annexure P/4 at Pg 118-132 of the SLP Paper book) and the same  is  being implemented  strictly  to  ensure  protection  and  welfare   of Jarawas.  Based  on  this  policy,  the  Andaman   and   Nicobar Administration has taken interalia the  following  measures  for protection and welfare of the Jarawas:- 
i)  Exclusive  Medical  Wards  in  primary  Health  Centers,  located near  the  Jarawa  Reserve  at  Tushnabad  in  South Andaman and Kadamtala in Middle Andaman alongwith one at  GB Pant Hospital, Port Blair have been set up for treatment  of Jarawas. Such wards are also declared as Tribal Reserve,  to prevent non tribals from  interacting  with  them  vide  A&N Gazette Notification  No.  113/2004/F.No.1-752/2002-TW  (PF) dated 8.6.2004.
ii) In order to provide the resource base  of  Jarawas,  the Jarawa reserve area has been increased  from  847  to 1028 in the year 2004 vide  A&N  Gazette  Notification No. 159/200  4/F.No.  1-752/2002-TW  (PF)  dated  15.9.2004. Further along the western coast, towards seaward side,  upto 1km radius, reserve area has been notified  vide  A&N  Extra Ordinary  Gazette  Notification   No.16   dated   17.1.2013, considering the fact that Jarawas  do  shallow  fishing  for their consumption.
iii) The Jarawa Tribal Reserve has  been  demarcated  taking into account  natural  features  like  hill  ranges,  peaks, creeks etc and boards have been erected to educate  the  non tribals and  to  prevent  them  from  interacting  into  the reserve.
 iv) The Andaman Trunk Road (ATR)  belt  has  been  decreased from 200 meters on either side of the road to only 30 meters from the central line of the road on either  side  vide  A&N Gazette Notification  No.  159/2004/F.No.  l-752/2002-TW(PF) dated 15.9.2004.
v) That enforcement measures have been intensified by the Police and Forest to protect the jarawa  resource  based  in the Forest and coastal water.
vi) That sites of Police, Forest and PWD camps were reviewed and camps in the Jarawa reserve have been closed and shifted out of the Reserve Area. Workers on  road  maintenance  work etc go inside the  reserve  during  the  day,  as  and  when required under proper escort and watch ward staff. 
vii) The  Deputy  Director  (Health)  alongwith  Paramedical staff of Directorate of Health  Services  visit  the  jarawa area regularly to make the assessment of  health  conditions and provide required care in the Jarawa area itself  to  the extent possible. In serious cases only jarawa  patients  are shifted to Hospital for further investigation and treatment.
viii)  The Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Protection of Aboriginal Tribes) Regulation, 1956 makes adequate provision of the land and its protection for the benefit of Jarawas in the Island territory. The areas inhabited by  the  Scheduled Tribes  of  these  islands  have  been  declared  as  Tribal Reserve. The entry into such area by non tribal is not only prohibited, unless, permitted  by  the  Statutory  Authority under  the  said  law  but  acquiring  any  land   is   also prohibited. Besides the A&N Administration is making all efforts to enforce the restrictions against persons who illegally enter the Jarawa Reserve area by registering cases against them under the PAT Regulation as well as SCs  &  STs  (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.  This has created a deterrent and intrusion into the Jarawa areas have reduced considerably in recent times. In this  connection  necessary amendment  in  section  8  of  PAT   Regulation   has   been promulgated by the President of India to  enhance  penalties and punishments for the offences committed by the non-tribal to make the law more stringent vide A&N Gazette Notification No. 24/2006/F. No. 1-467/2001-TW dated  31.1.2006.  Further, the  A&N  Islands   (Protection   of   Aboriginal   Tribes), Regulation,  1956  which  protects  the  interest   of   the aboriginal Jarawa tribe in these islands has been amended by the Govt of India and brought into  force  w.e.f.  9.7.2012, provides stringent penal provisions for various violations. Besides anti-poaching exercises are regularly carried out by Navy in the high seas, Coasts Guard in the Coastal areas and by Police on the Coast line. 
ix) That to protect the food  resources  in  reserved  area, three tasks Force  Committees  comprising  of  officials  of AAJVS, Police and Forest Department have been constituted at Tirrur, Middle Strait and Kadamtala vide AAJVS order No. 200 dated  27.9.2006.  They conduct   regular   anti   poaching patrolling in the Jarawa Reserve Area.
6. That consequent upon the recent behavioral  changes  seen  in the Jarawa Tribe, the A&N Administration felt the need to review the  present  Jarawa  Policy  2004.  The Government of India, Ministry of Tribal Affairs constituted a Sub Committee of the Experts under the Chairmanship  of  Secretary  Govt.  of  India, Ministry of Tribal Affairs to review the  Jarawa  Policy,  2004. The Meeting of the Sub-Committee was held on 7.6.2011 and it was decided to constitute a Group of Experts by Andaman & Nicobar Administration to assess the actual perceptions, needs and expectations   of   the   Jarawa   Tribe.    Accordingly,    the Administration constituted a Group  of  Experts  consisting  of Anthropologists, Social activists and other experts. The  report submitted  by  the  Group  of  Experts  was  forwarded  to   the Government of  India,  Ministry  of  Tribal  Affairs.  The  Sub-Committee in its meeting held on 14.10.2011 accepted the  report which inter-alia includes:-
i) That there is no need for a change in Jarawa Policy. However it was recommended to reduce the number of convoys on the ATR and develop alternate sea route for Baratang  and North Middle Andaman.
  ii) Restructure Andaman Adim Janjati  Vikas  Samiti  (AAJVS) for effective implementation of Jarawa  Policy,  proper  and adequate  medical  help/intervention  to   Jarawas,   proper awareness programme   for  settlers  and  communities  using ATR.
iii) Listen and facilitate Jarawas, rather than "provide and deny', due to the changes being experienced by   this community. Policy / actions to be    research based.  Some suggested area for time bound research include Socio  Impact Assessment,  Study  on  Movement  Pattern  and   Calenderics Identifying Jarawa 'Hotspots' and Study on  Nutritional  and health aspects.
iv) The Administration has already implemented some  of  the recommendations namely,  Daily  Convoy   frequency   between Jirkatang to  Middle  Strait  reduced  from  8  to  4  w.e.f 25.9.2011 vide circular dated 13.9.2011. An officer  of  the rank of DIG of Police has been designated as  Nodal  Officer to monitor day to day activities on ATR and strict vigil  in the Jarawa Reserve.
v) AAJVS reconstituted, Experts included,  22  contractual employees regularized, and post of  Development-cum-Research Officer  created.  PAT Regulation 1956 got amended   and notified on 2.7.2012 by the Government of  India.  Periodic training is being given to staff for field implementation. First training was held on 12-13 July 2012 and sensitization of villagers residing in  Buffer  Zone  was  conducted.  As suggested by the Ministry of Tribal  Affairs,  in  order  to review the Jarawa Policy,  2004,  empirical  data  is  being collected by engaging field functionaries of AAJVS under the guidance of  Group  of  Experts.  A three  day  orientation workshop from 13th to 15th October, 2012 was  organized  for the field functionaries of AAJVS for skill up-gradation.
vi) The Group of Experts constituted by  the  Administration has already taken up research Project, to  study  livelihood pattern, health issues etc of the Jarawas so  as  to  assess the perception, the will & the preparedness of the tribe  to interact with the outside world on an equal footing and make informed decisions. This work is being carried out with the assistance of staff and officers of AAJVS.  It is  expected that the report of the group will be made  available  within six months. 
17. That thereafter, the report was carefully examined  by  the Administrator, A&N Islands who approved on 16.1.2013  a  revised Buffer zone notification invoking his power under  section  3(A) of the A&N Islands (Protection of Aboriginal Tribes) Regulation. The revised Buffer zone notification has been  notified  in  the Official  Gazette  of  Andaman  &  Nicobar   Administration   on 17.1.2013, and a copy of which has already been taken on  record by this Hon'ble Court during the hearing held on  21.01.2013.  A sketch showing the reserve area, the buffer zone and ATR as per the revised Buffer Zone  Notification  issued  on  17.1.2013  is annexed herewith and marked Annexure P/2. 
18.  That  in  the  notification  dated  17th  Jan,  2013,   the Administrator has declared the area upto 5  km  radius  adjacent and contiguous to the Jarawa Tribe Reserve  area,  (notified  on 15.9.2004), starting from Constance  Bay  in  South  Andaman  to Lewis inlet Bay in Middle Andaman, as a Buffer Zone  except  the areas specified in the Schedule to the Notification  subject  to the condition set out in the said Schedule. In the Schedule,  34 settlement villages in the districts of South Andaman and  North & Middle Andaman, the entire island of Baratang and seaward side of the western and eastern boundary of Jarawa tribe Reserve area have been mentioned, thereby removing them from the operation of Buffer  Zone,  notified  in  2007.  However,  the  Administrator declared that no person should carry out any  activity  directly or indirectly  which  might  be  prejudice  to  the  safety  and interests of the Jarawa tribe in any of the settlement  villages falling in the Schedule. In order to remove any ambiguity it has been clarified in the  Schedule  that  the  normal  day  to  day activities being carried out by  the  persons  residing  in  the Revenue settlement villages who  earn  their  sources  of  their livelihood should however remain unaffected. A statement showing the list of 34  revenue  settlement  villages  and  the  present economic  and  historical  background  of  the  settlers  living therein has been annexed. 
19.  That  the   A&N   Administration   simultaneously   through appropriate administrative measures has put in  place  mechanism to monitor/regulate activities in the  settlement  villages  now excluded from  the  Buffer  Zone  to  ensure  that  the  safety, security and  interest  of  Jarawa  tribes  are  protected.  The Administration by  its  revised  Buffer  Zone  notification  has addressed not only the issue of protection of Jarawas  but  also the livelihood concerns of the  settler  population.  The field level functionaries like Tribal Welfare Officers and Janjati Sevaks of AAJVS have been deployed at different contact points to safeguard the interest of the Jarawa and ensure that they are not exploited in any manner. Besides the field  staff  of  AAJVS alongwith the Jarawa Protection Police, Forest  officials  carry out joint patrolling in the Jarawa Reserve area to prevent their exploitation by any one, which has proved effective.
 21. That it is submitted that the orders passed by this  Hon'ble Court  on  21.01.2013  is   being   implemented   and   standing instructions to various authorities to stop movement of tourists on the ATR passing through Jarawa reserve area and  to  regulate the movements from Police Check Post established at Jirkatang No- 2 to Middle Strait. No vehicles carrying tourists are allowed to ply through the stretches of  ATR  passing  through  the  Jarawa reserve area in South  and  North  &  Middle  Andaman.  However, vehicle used by the Government Departments  on  govt  duty  are exempted. Also public goods carriers and other  public  service providers are  exempted.  The  residents  of  North  and  Middle Andaman intending to travel by STS or private buses on ATR  from either side between Jirkatang-Middle Strait & Kadamtala have  to produce their Identity Cards for  issuance  of  tickets  at  the Ticket Counters or to the Transport official  in  the  Bus.  The suggested documents  include  any  of  the  following  namely  - Islanders Identity Card, Local Certificate, Driving License, PAN Card, Bank Pass Book, Electoral Photo Identity Card, AADHAR Card etc. of A&N Islands. The Transport Authorities and  Private  Bus owners shall not issue any tickets without verifying  the  above documents. In case of visit of  relatives  and  friends  of  the residents of North  and  Middle  Andaman  the  visitor  has   to provide declaration form with the details viz.,  name,  address, with phone number of the visiting relative and their own details for the purchase of tickets in case of traveling by  buses.  The private bus owners shall follow  the  same  procedure  and  keep records of all these forms for future reference. Passengers  are advised to carry with them the required identity document  which was shown at the  time  of  purchase  of  tickets.  The  various orders/instructions, press releases issued by the Administration are annexed wherewith and marked Annexure P/3  (Colly)  to  this affidavit."
(reproduced from the SLP paper book)
We have gone through the latest  affidavit  of  Shri  Kuldip  Singh Thakur and the accompanying documents and are satisfied that the order passed by the learned Single Judge  and  the  Division  Bench  of  the Calcutta High Court, which became subject matter of challenge  in  the special leave petition, have become ineffective. 
With the above observations, the special leave petition is disposed of as infructuous. However, it is  made  clear  that  the  petitioners shall strictly comply with the  amended  regulations  and  the  orders issued for implementation thereof.
As a sequel to the above, the  application  for  intervention  is dismissed.
      (Parveen Kr. Chawla)              (Phoolan Wati Arora)
         Court Master                              Court Master