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6th Schedule of the Constitution

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  1. Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

6th Schedule of the Constitution

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Overview of autonomous councils constituted under 6th schedule of the constitution, measures announced for the strengthening of these institutions.

 

Context: The centre has asserted that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 has been tweaked so that states where the Inner Line Permit (ILP) is applicable, and tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram that are notified under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution would be kept out of its purview.

What CAB exemption means for 6th Schedule areas?

The tweaked CAB 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.

Further, the laws made by Autonomous District Councils (ADCs) with the powers bestowed upon them by the Sixth Schedule will not be scrapped by the CAB.

What is 6th schedule?

Under Article 244, it deals with the administration of the tribal areas in the four northeastern states of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.

Passed by the Constituent Assembly in 1949, it seeks to safeguard the rights of tribal population through the formation of Autonomous District Councils (ADC).

Key provisions:

The governor is empowered to organise and re-organise the autonomous districts.

If there are different tribes in an autonomous district, the governor can divide the district into several autonomous regions.

Composition: Each autonomous district has a district council consisting of 30 members, of whom four are nominated by the governor and the remaining 26 are elected on the basis of adult franchise.

Term: The elected members hold office for a term of five years (unless the council is dissolved earlier) and nominated members hold office during the pleasure of the governor.

Each autonomous region also has a separate regional council.

Powers of councils: The district and regional councils administer the areas under their jurisdiction. They can make laws on certain specified matters like land, forests, canal water, shifting cultivation, village administration, inheritance of property, marriage and divorce, social customs and so on. But all such laws require the assent of the governor.

Village councils: The district and regional councils within their territorial jurisdictions can constitute village councils or courts for trial of suits and cases between the tribes. They hear appeals from them. The jurisdiction of high court over these suits and cases is specified by the governor.

Powers and functions: The district council can establish, construct or manage primary schools, dispensaries, markets, ferries, fisheries, roads and so on in the district. It can also make regulations for the control of money lending and trading by non-tribals. But, such regulations require the assent of the governor. The district and regional councils are empowered to assess and collect land revenue and to impose certain specified taxes.

Exceptions: The acts of Parliament or the state legislature do not apply to autonomous districts and autonomous regions or apply with specified modifications and exceptions.

The governor can appoint a commission to examine and report on any matter relating to the administration of the autonomous districts or regions. He may dissolve a district or regional council on the recommendation of the commission.

Related- 125th amendment bill:

It seeks to increase the financial and executive powers of the 10 Autonomous Councils in the Sixth Schedule areas of the northeastern region.

The amendments provide for elected village municipal councils, ensuring democracy at the grassroot level.

  • The village councils will be empowered toprepare plans for economic development and social justice including those related to agriculture, land improvement, implementation of land reforms, minor irrigation, water management, animal husbandry, rural electrification, small scale industries and social forestry.
  • The Finance Commission will be mandated to recommend devolution of financial resources to them.
  • The Autonomous Councils now depend on grants from Central ministries and the State government for specific projects. At least one-third of the seats will be reserved for women in the village and municipal councils in the Sixth Schedule areas of Assam, Mizoram and Tripura after the amendment is approved.

 

Sources: the Hindu.