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Autonomous District Councils

Topics Covered: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.

Autonomous District Councils

What to study?

For Prelims: Autonomous Councils- composition, objectives and functions.

For Mains: Their significance, challenges being faced and scope for reforms.

Context: The COVID-19 pandemic may earn Governor’s rule for the Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD) in Assam.

The State’s Governor is the constitutional head of the BTAD that falls under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution and is administered by the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC).

 Background:

Elections were scheduled to be held for the BTC on April 4 but was deferred indefinitely in view of the pandemic.  The council’s current term expires on April 27.

 What are Autonomous District Council?

As per the Sixth Schedule, the four states viz. Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram contain the Tribal Areas which are technically different from the Scheduled Areas.

Though these areas fall within the executive authority of the state, provision has been made for the creation of the District Councils and regional councils for the exercise of the certain legislative and judicial powers.

Each district is an autonomous district and Governor can modify / divide the boundaries of the said Tribal areas by notification.

 The Governor may, by public notification:

(a) Include any area.

(b) exclude any area.

(c) create a new autonomous district.

(d) increase the area of any autonomous district.

(e) diminish the area of any autonomous district.

(f) alter the name of any autonomous district.

(g) define the boundaries of any autonomous district.

Constitution of District Councils and Regional Councils:

(1) There shall be a District Council for each autonomous district consisting of not more than thirty members, of whom not more than four persons shall be nominated by the Governor and the rest shall be elected on the basis of adult suffrage.

(2) There shall be a separate Regional Council for each area constituted an autonomous region.

(3) Each District Council and each Regional Council shall be a body corporate by the name respectively of the District Council of (name of district) and the Regional Council of (name of region), shall have perpetual succession and a common seal and shall by the said name sue and be sued.

Related- 125th amendment bill:

  1. It seeks to increase the financial and executive powers of the 10 Autonomous Councils in the Sixth Schedule areas of the northeastern region.
  2. The amendments provide for elected village municipal councils,ensuring democracy at the grassroot level.
  3. Powers: The village councils will be empowered to prepare 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.
  4. The Finance Commissionwill be mandated to recommend devolution of financial resources to them.
  5. Finance: The Autonomous Councils now depend on grants from Central ministries and the State government for specific projects.
  6. Reservations: 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.

Insta Links:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is an autonomous district council?
  2. Who constitutes them?
  3. Powers and roles?
  4. What are regional councils?
  5. Composition of these councils?
  6. How many states are covered under 6th schedule of the Indian Constitution.

Sources: the Hindu.