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Sixth Schedule areas

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

Sixth Schedule areas:


Context:

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has informed the Lok Sabha that “presently, there is no proposal to implement panchayat system in Sixth Schedule areas of Assam”.

Efforts in this regard- Constitution (125th Amendment) Bill, 2019:

  • Introduced in the Rajya Sabha on February 6, 2019, the Bill provides for elected village municipal councils.
  • The Bill that is still active proposes that the State Election Commissions would hold elections to the autonomous councils, village and municipal councils.

About the Sixth Schedule:

  • It protects tribal populations and provides autonomy to the communities through creation of autonomous development councils that can frame laws on land, public health, agriculture and others.
  • As of now, 10 autonomous councils exist in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.
  • This special provision is provided under Article 244(2) and Article 275(1) of the Constitution.

Key provisions:

  1. The governor is empowered to organise and re-organise the autonomous districts.
  2. If there are different tribes in an autonomous district, the governor can divide the district into several autonomous regions.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Each autonomous region also has a separate regional council.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

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.