GS Paper 2
Syllabus: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure
Direction: The article covers the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution and examines the case of UT of Ladakh to be included under the Schedule
- The main objective of the inclusion of tribal populations under the 6th schedule of the Constitution is to ensure their overall socio-economic development, which the Ladakh UT administration has already been taking care of.
- This is what the Union Home Ministry has informed a Parliamentary panel, evading a direct reply on the possible inclusion of Ladakh under the 6th Schedule.
- On August 5, 2019, the former State of J&K was bifurcated into two Union Territories (UTs) – J&K and Ladakh, the latter without a Legislative Assembly.
- After its special status was removed, several political groups (the apex body for Leh) in Ladakh have been demanding that its land, employment, and cultural identity should be protected under the 6th Schedule.
- In 2021, only MP from Ladakh demanded constitutional safeguards by amending the Ladakh Autonomous Hill District Council (LAHDC) Act under the 6th Schedule.
About the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution:
- The Schedule protects tribal populations, providing autonomy to communities through the creation of Autonomous District Councils (ADCs), which can frame laws on land, public health and agriculture.
- According to Article 244 of the Indian Constitution, the Sixth Schedule consists of provisions for the administration of tribal areas in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.
- As of now, 10 autonomous councils exist in the above 4 states. Along with ADCs, the 6th Schedule also provides for separate Regional Councils for each area constituted as an autonomous region.
About Autonomous District Councils (ADC):
- Composition: Each autonomous district and regional council (term – 5 years) consists of not more than 30 members, of which four are nominated by the governor and the rest via elections.
- Authorised to enact legislation on topics such as land, forestry, fisheries, social security, entertainment, public health, etc., with due approval from the Governor.
- The ADCs can constitute village courts within their jurisdiction to hear trials of cases involving the tribes.
- Role of:
- Governors of states: They specify the jurisdiction of High Courts and are empowered to organise or reorganise boundaries of the tribal areas and alter or change the names of autonomous regions without separate legislation.
- The central and state governments: are restricted from the territorial jurisdiction of these autonomous regions.
- For example, Acts passed by Parliament and state legislatures may or may not be applied in these regions. In the case of Assam, the direction of the Governor, both in respect of acts of Parliament or state legislature is required to be applicable. In the case of Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram, the direction of the president with respect to acts of Parliament and the governor in respect of acts of the state legislature is required.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs report:
- According to the 2011 Census, the tribal population in the UT of Ladakh is 2,18,355, which is ~80% of the total population.
- Special status may be granted (under the 5th/6th Schedule) to the UT considering the developmental requirements of the tribal population.
Union government’s response:
- Sufficient funds are being provided to Ladakh to meet its overall developmental requirements.
- The Ladakh administration recently increased the reservation for STs in direct recruitment from 10% to 45%.
6th Schedule of the Indian Constitution
Q. “Sixth schedule of the Indian constitution has been successful in protecting the tribal culture and inclusivity”. Analyse. (250 words)