Samata, (see profile) an NGO working in the scheduled tribal area of Andhra Pradesh, filed a case against the state government of Andhra Pradesh.
This case was against the Government of A.P. for leasing out tribal lands to private mining companies in the Scheduled areas.
The case (SLP) filed in the Supreme Court of India led to a historic judgement in July 1997 by a three judge-bench. (Read Full Judgement)
The Judgement declared that the Government is also a "Person" and that:
All lands leased to private mining companies in the scheduled areas are null and void.
Some features of the judgement are:
94. By the Constitution [73rd Amendment] Act, 1992 ....
every Gram Sabha shall be competent to safeguard and preserve...community resources". .....
clause (m) (iii) the power to prevent alienation of land in the Scheduled Areas and to take appropriate action to restore any unlawful alienation of land of a Scheduled Tribe ...
110. Minerals to be exploited by tribals themselves either individually or through cooperative societies with financial assistance of the State.
112. in the absence of total prohibition, the court laid down certain duties and obligations to the lessee, as a part of the project expenditure.
114. At least 20% of the profits as permanent fund for development needs apart for m reforestation and maintenance of ecology.
115. Transfer of land in Scheduled Area by way of lease to non-tribals, corporation aggregate, etc stands prohibited.
116. renewal of lease is fresh grant of lease and therefore, any transfer stands prohibited.
117. Transfer of mining lease to non-tribals, company, corporation aggregate or partnership firm etc is unconstitutional, void and inoperative. State instrumentality's like APMDC stands excluded from prohibition.
129. In the absence of total prohibition in some states with scheduled Areas, Committee of Secretaries and State Cabinet Sub committees should be constituted and decision taken thereafter.
131. Conference of all Chief Ministers, Ministers holding the Ministry concerned and Prime minister, and central Ministers concerned should take a policy decision for a consistent scheme throughout the country in respect of tribal lands.