The law thus reads:
Section 97. Restriction on alienation of land by Aboriginals. (1) The government may from time to time by notification, declare that the provisions of this section, shall in any district or local area, apply to such of the following original castes or tribes as may be specified in the notification, and that such castes or tribes shall be specified in the notification and that such castes or tribes shall be deemed to be aboriginals for the purposes of this section, and the publication of such notification shall be conclusive evidence that the provisions of this section have been duly applied to such castes or tribes namely:
Sonthals, Banais, Bhuiyas, Bhumijies, Dalus, Garos, Gonds, Hadis, Hajangs,
Hos, Kharias, Kharwars, Kochs ( Daca Division) Koras, Maghs ( Bakargaj
District) Mal and Saurai Paharias, Maches, Mundas, Oraons, and Turis.
(2)Except as provided in this section, no transfer by an aboriginal raiyat of this right in into his holding or in any portion thereof shall be valid unless it is made to another aboriginal domiciled or permanently residing in Bangladesh who is a person to whom the transfer of such holding or portion thereof can be made under section 90. If in any case, an aboriginal raiyat desires to transfer holding or any portion thereof by private sale, gift, or will any person who is not such an aboriginal, he many apply to the Revenue Officer for permission in that behalf and the Revenue Officer may pass such order on the application as the thinks fit having regards to the provisions of section 88 and 90. Every transfer referred to in sub section 3 shall be made by registered deed and before the deed is registered and the holding or any portion thereof is transferred, the written consent of the Revenue Officer shall be obtained to the terms if the deed and the transfer.
The EBSAT Act covers two issues. The coverage of the law vis a vis existing ethnic peoples of the country, and the implementation of the salient provisions of the law itself.
Advocate Michael Soren noted that EBSAT Act 1950 added Section 97 in the same way as in the section of Bengal Tenancy Act of 1918. This is the ONLY law imposed by the British government for the interest of the Adibashi peoples to protect and preserve Adibashi land rights. The very title of the Act was Restriction on Alienation of Land by Aboriginals which targets that Adibashi peoples should not be turned landless.
The law listed only 21 sections of aboriginal peoples and nothing stated about the rest of the Adibashi peoples. Soren asks, “what happens to the rest of the groups? The Law is practically implemented by the Assistant Deputy Commissioner but most of the time the concerned ADC does not have any idea about the Adibashi peoples”.
Two Presidential orders have been passed to refer coverage to the State Tenancy and Acquisition Act of 1950. The July 18, 1963 Order provides that the law shall be applicable in 10 districts of Bangladesh but not in Dinajpur district where a plenty Adibashis are found. The August 20, 1964 Order covered only four sections of Adibashi Peoples although there are about 35 sections living in the northwestern part of the country living since very ancient period. What will be the fate of the rest of the Adibashi or indigenous communities is not stated clearly in the section. This law needs to be reconsidered, Michael Soren said.
Advocate Michael Soren noted that the EBSAT Act 1950 added Section 97 which is the only law imposed by the British government for the interest of the Adibashi peoples to protect and preserve Adibashi land rights has become a “lost law”.
The Gamustapur Pargana and Digori Coordinating Council of Chappai Nawobgonch in a focus- group discussion noted that there is a need for Pargana Permission before any land transfer is effected. To prevent illegal land transfers from an Adibashi to a non-adibashi, the Gamustapur Pargana and Digori Council of Chappai Nawobgonch forwarded that the committee jointly acknowledge and provide certification that an Adibashi is selling land before the ADC will forward his warishun (permission) that such Adibashi is selling his land.
Similarly, Panchbibi Pargana and Jatiyo Adivashi Parishad leader Ram Vincent Tudu said there is a need for the Pargana to provide the necessary recommendation for land transfer before any transfer will be permitted by the Land Revenue Officer.