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Telangana HC sets aside panchayat move to expel Guttikoya tribe from village


Published on: December 5, 2022 | Updated on: December 5, 2022

A file picture of tribal women clashing with forest department staff. (Representational photo: DC)

Hyderabad: Justice Kanneganti Lalitha of Telangana High Court on Monday set aside the resolution of Bendalapadu gram panchayat in Chandrugonda mandal of Bhadradri Kothagudem district to expel Guttikoya community forest dwellers, who reside in their jurisdiction to Chhattisgarh state, in the backdrop of the recent incident of killing of forest range officer Ch Srinivasa Rao.

The resolution was approved by the panchayat secretary of the village on November 26 and sent to higher authorities. Reportedly police and forest officials have taken steps to evict the Guttikoyas from Errabodu forest.

Aggrieved at the decision, police and forest officials of Guttikoyas approached the High Court, seeking to set aside the resolution.

Justice Lalitha stated that the gram panchayat has no right to pass such unconstitutional resolutions, which affected the right to live.

Chikkudu Prabhakar, arguing counsel, and D. Ambedkar, counsel on record, on behalf of the petitioners submitted that the Guttikoyas had been  living in the jurisdiction of the V Schedule of the Constitution since 1998.

Prabhakar cited judgments of the Supreme Court on the right to live in ‘Olga Tellis v Bombay Municipality Corporation’, ‘Samatha v State of Andhra Pradesh’, which is considered a benchmark judgment.