The Gauhati High Court on Monday ordered the eviction of non-tribals and others who are not eligible to hold possession of land in the tribal belts and blocks of Assam, The Telegraph reported.

A division bench of Chief Justice Ajai Lamba and Justice Achintya Malla Bujor Barua passed the order in response to a public interest litigation filed by Prodyut Kumar Bora. He sought the court’s intervention to protect tribal belts and blocks from illegal occupation by non-tribals and others.

The court ordered the the deputy commissioners of districts having tribal belts and blocks and the principal secretary of Bodoland Territorial Council to file their report on the action taken to evict all non-tribal and other people illegally occupying land by February 3, 2020. The case will be again heard on February 5.

“In case appropriate steps are not taken to give effect to this order, the court would consider imposing costs to be recovered from the salary of the concerned officers who are found responsible in causing a delay in the process of this court,” the order said. “This court directs the deputy commissioner and other related officers concerned to strictly implement in letter and spirit the provisions of Chapter X of the Regulation of 1886. Consequently, the areas in illegal occupation of non-tribal and other persons who are not eligible to hold possession of land be evicted after following due process of law.”

The court issued the order to the deputy commissioners of Bongaigaon, Kamrup (metro), Morigaon, Sonitpur and Tinsukia districts and the principal secretary of BTC, who governs Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Udalguri districts. Maximum encroachments were reported from these nine districts.

The deputy commissioners were instructed to follow due process of law and to take utmost care while according permission for transfer of land within tribal belts and blocks.

“Tribal belts and blocks are for tribals and it is to be seen if the government executes the order,” Janak Lal Basumatary, the president of Bodoland Janajati Suraksha Mancha, said.

The Assam Cabinet had this month issued a new land policy order to protect the rights of indigenous people of the state.