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Arunachal groups push for 6th Schedule status

Topics Covered: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

Arunachal groups push for 6th Schedule status:


Context:

The revival of the demand for two autonomous councils has made political parties and community-based groups call for bringing the entire Arunachal Pradesh under the ambit of the Sixth Schedule or Article 371 (A) of the Constitution.

What’s the demand?

Currently, Arunachal Pradesh is under the Fifth Schedule that “does not provide special rights for the indigenous communities” unlike the Sixth Schedule.

  • Many political parties have been demanding the inclusion of Arunachal Pradesh in the 6th Schedule for making the Arunachalees owner of all natural resources instead of being protectors only.
  • Inclusion of the state under the Sixth Schedule would enable the state to own the legitimate ownership rights over its own natural resources and make it self sufficient without having to depend too much on central grants.

What is 6th Schedule?

The Sixth Schedule currently includes 10 autonomous district councils in four northeastern States — Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura.

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

This special provision is provided under Article 244(2) and Article 275(1) of the Constitution.

Key provisions:

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

  1. If there are different tribes in an autonomous district, the governor can divide the district into several autonomous regions.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Each autonomous region also has a separate regional council.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

What about Nagaland?

Nagaland is governed by Article 371 (A), which says that no Act of Parliament shall apply in the State in several areas unless the Nagaland Assembly so decides by a resolution.

  • These include administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Naga customary law and ownership and transfer of land and its resources.

For a detailed Comparison of alternate/special governance mechanisms for tribal zones in the Constitution of India, please refer:

https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/governance/very-little-is-understood-about-fifth-and-sixth-schedules-of-indian-constitution-58603.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Difference between 5th and 6th schedule of Indian Constitution.
  2. Powers of governor under 5th
  3. Who can include or exclude areas under 5th
  4. What are scheduled areas?
  5. Forest Rights Act- key provisions.
  6. Tribal Advisory Councils- composition and functions.

Mains Link:

Differentiate between 5th and 6th schedules of the Indian constitution.

Sources: the Hindu.