CHAPTER 18 – SCHEDULED AND TRIBAL AREAS

 

SCHEDULED AND TRIBAL AREAS

(ARTICLE 244 AND SUB ARTICLES)

 

 

PART X OF THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA (ARTICLE 244 – 244A)

 

ARTICLE 244

 

Article 244 of the Constitution envisages a special system of administration for certain areas designated as Scheduled and Tribal Areas defined in 5th and 6th Schedules of the Constitution.

5th Schedule – It deals with administration of Scheduled Areas and Tribal Areas in any state except the states of Assam, Tripura,  Meghalaya, and Mizoram.

6th Schedule – It deals with administration of Scheduled Areas and Tribal Areas in the states of Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya, and Mizoram. 

 

 

ADMINISTRATION OF SCHEDULED AREAS SPECIFIED IN 5TH SCHEDULE

 

DEFINITION

Scheduled areas are areas inhabited by aboriginals who are socially and economically backward. The Constitution does not mention any specific criteria for establishing the Scheduled Areas. However, since they are established for protection of the tribals and aboriginals, the most basic criteria is preponderance of tribal population in those areas. The President may declare any territory under the control of Union to be a Scheduled Area, and may also cease an area to be considered further as a Scheduled Area. He can also alter the boundary lines of such an area within the state after consultation with the Governor of the state.

 

EXECUTIVE POWERS OF THE STATE

The Executive power of the state extends the Scheduled Areas within the state, but the Governor of the state, with the approval of the President, has the power to amend or repeal the provisions of the laws of the state as well as the Union to be applicable in such Scheduled Areas. 

 

TRIBES ADVISORY COUNCIL

Each state having Scheduled or Tribal Area needs to establish a Tribes Advisory Council consisting of not more than twenty members of whom, as nearly as may be, three-fourths should be the representatives of the Scheduled Tribes in the Legislative Assembly of the state. If the number of representatives of the Scheduled Tribes in the Legislative Assembly of the state is less than the number of seats in the Tribes Advisory Council to be filled by such representatives, the remaining seats shall be filled by other members of those tribes. It shall be the duty of the Tribes Advisory Council to advise on such matters pertaining to the welfare and advancement of the Scheduled Tribes in the state as may be referred to them by the Governor.

 

COMMISSION FOR THE WELFARE OF SCHEDULED AND TRIBAL AREAS

Article 338 of the Constitution requires the President to appoint a Commission to report on the administration of Scheduled and Tribal Areas in the states. The first such Commission for determining Scheduled and Tribal Areas was set up in 1960, and then again in 2002.

 

 

ADMINISTRATION OF SCHEDULED AREAS SPECIFIED IN 6TH SCHEDULE

 

The tribal areas in the four states of Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya and Mizoram could be granted the status of Autonomous Districts, but they would not lie outside the Executive authority of their respective states. If there are different tribes in an autonomous district, the Governor may divide the district into several autonomous regions.

 

AUTONOMOUS DISTRICT COUNCILS

The 6th Schedule also allows for the formation of Autonomous District Councils to administer areas which have been given autonomy within their respective states. Each Autonomous District Council shall consist of 30 members out of which 4 must be nominated by the Governor, and remaining must be elected on the basis of Adult Franchise. The elected members hold the office for a five year term, while the nominated members hold the office during the pleasure of the Governor. Such Councils can make laws specific to the area. However, all such laws would require the approval of the Governor. These Councils may also assess and collect land revenue and impose certain specific taxes in the region. They can establish primary schools, dispensaries, and markets in the district. 

 

 

KEY FACTS

 

  1. Most of the autonomous district councils are located in North-East India but two are in Ladakh region of Northern India.
  2. Presently, 10 Autonomous district Councils under Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura are under 6th Schedule.
  3. In light of the recent Citizenship Amendment Act, which seeks to provide citizenship to persecuted minorities of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, the Sixth Schedule will play the primary role in these regions for safeguarding the rights of tribal population and preventing influx. The Citizen Amendment Act states that areas under the Sixth Schedule are exempted from its purview, which means non-Muslim refugees from the three countries who are granted Indian citizenship will not have any land or trading rights in the autonomous regions. This essentially means the refugees can neither reside or settle in the 10 autonomous districts, nor enjoy benefits extended to the tribals, even if they are provided with Indian citizenship. As such, there are demands to include Darjeeling Hills in the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution to provide it protection against the influx of new citizens.