The Act was mainly incorporated to differentiate the types of forests, protecting their use and to regulating the forest produce. The Act defines how a forest or a waste land becomes a reserved or protected forest.
The procedure requires the Forest Settlement Officer(FSO) to consider the claims made by the local inhabitants regarding the usage of the land, later he makes decisions either to accept or relocate or to discontinue the practice. The Government is first required to notify as per section 4 of the Act that said piece of land is going to be labelled as a reserved or protected forest.
As per section 6 of the Act, the FSO may call for an examination of any person who, he may think, has the knowledge of the facts, including the evidence of any person likely to be acquainted with the same. No new rights can be raised in the notified land after such a notification has been issued, and those claiming any pre-existing right have a period of at least three months to appear and assert such a right, and to make a case for compensation. However, there is an assertion period in extraordinary cases until the final reservation order gets published.
The Act is inclusive of the provisions for seizure of property by the Forest or Police officer where if he has a reason to believe that there is any commission of offence in respect of forest produce. The officers are required to put a mark on the property that is being seized and have to prepare a report which is then given to the Magistrate.
The Act ensures that powers are granted to the Forest officers by the State Government for entering upon the lands to conduct a survey, issuing search warrants, conducting inquiry and recording evidence for the same. These evidence are then admissible in trials before a Magistrate for the offences committed.
Drawbacks of the Act:
The Act mainly focuses on the forest land, procedure for declaring land as forest and the officers whereas there are no detailed provisions for the fauna under the Act. Originally the Act was incorporated during the British times, keeping in mind their interests of hunting and so it did not constitute separate laws for the wildlife which forms an important part of the forest. In 1972 a separate legislation i.e. the Wildlife Protection Act was enacted. This formed one of the major setback of the Indian Forest Act of 1927.
The Indian Forest Act, 1927 has attempted to classify the forests and protect their extensive use it has eventually failed by providing the only decision-making authority in the hands of the Government, making it arbitrary and unreasonable. While dealing with the intricacies of the Act the laws for wildlife and river water conservation were lacking, considering the importance of flora and fauna being an essential part of the forests there were no provisions dealing in detail for the same.
Although the Act aimed towards the forest conservation and its forest produce duties, it has failed miserably in that area. The essence of the Act was lost when the Government regained the control of these forests so that the revenue can be generated from the forest produce. In the end the Act could not serve its purpose, to avoid the exploitation.
The Forest Act, requires amendments in matters where the focus should be shifted towards conservation and enrichment of sustainable use of the forest resources to safeguard the ecological stability which was proposed in the amendment bill of 2019 for bringing changes in the Act of 1927.
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