The Government instead of implementing the orders of the Supreme Court that gives strength and clarity to the Fifth Schedule, has behaved in an un-democratic and unconstitutional manner trying not only to ignore the directions, but also in its continues efforts to reverse the judgement.
In view of future mining activities, the Supreme Court has given certain clear directions on the course of action that could be taken by the Government. It directed that the prime minister should convene a conference of all Chief ministers and other concerned central Ministers, to take a policy decision so as to bring about suitable enactment in the light of the guidelines, so that a consistent scheme throughout the country is implemented.
However if the Constitution is amended today for the sake of mining, there will be many sectors which would justify acquisition of tribal lands for other 'development' objectives. this would only lead to tribals being completely destroyed and dislocated. The Government has not taken any of these serious issues into consideration when it started its sale of the first public sector mining company in the scheduled area.
The opinion of the Government is again blatant in its recommendations through the Attorney General Shri. Soli Sorabjee who had, ironically, appeared on behalf of the tribals in the Samata Case. He clearly stated to the Ministry of mines in the "Secret Document" that
"The Fifth Schedule to the Constitution of India can be amended to counter the adverse effect of the Samata Judgement"
The Supreme court can reconsider its previous judgement (Samata case) if another pending case on a similar issue is brought before it. (In this situation the BALCO case which is pending for hearing at the Supreme Court, is being used by the Government to amend the Fifth Schedule)
Rather than tread this path, the government can seriously examine the wisdom of the Supreme Court and choose from a wide range of development options before it including those suggested in the Judgement.
The mineral wealth of the country will remain in its place for us to work out sensible ways of exploiting them. It is also not as if that selling out to private companies is the only magic remedy to the country's economic backwardness. Tribal cooperative mining, Profit-sharing with the traditional inhabitants of the land , democratic and transparent planning and implementation, forcing companies to comply with laws similar to those in the developed countries are but some of the saner governance options before the country.
An effort to put some sense into the Executive is the path of Collective Action. The next section describes the Collective action that we are initiating.