Article 371 to 371-J in Part XXI of the constitution contains special provisions for eleven states. The objective behind these provisions is to meet the aspirations of the people of backward regions of the states or to protect the cultural and economic interests of the tribal people of the states or to deal with the disturbed law and order condition in some parts of the states or to protect the interests of the local people of the states. These constitutions did not exist in the original constitution. They have been incorporated subsequently by various amendments
Overview of these special provisions for some states in India
- Article 371, Maharashtra and Gujarat: Governor has “special responsibility” to establish “separate development boards” for “Vidarbha, Marathwada, and the rest of Maharashtra”, and Saurashtra and Kutch in Gujarat; ensure “equitable allocation of funds for developmental expenditure over the said areas”, and “equitable arrangement providing adequate facilities for technical education and vocational training, and adequate opportunities for employment” under the state government.
- Article 371A (13th Amendment Act, 1962), Nagaland:
Inserted after a 16-point agreement between the Centre and the Naga People’s Convention in 1960, which led to the creation of Nagaland in 1963.
Parliament cannot legislate in matters of Naga religion or social practices, Naga customary law and procedure, administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Naga customary law, and ownership and transfer of land without concurrence of the state Assembly.
- Article 371B (22nd Amendment Act, 1969), Assam: The President may provide for the constitution and functions of a committee of the Assembly consisting of members elected from the state’s tribal areas.
- Article 371C (27th Amendment Act, 1971), Manipur: The President may provide for the constitution of a committee of elected members from the Hill areas in the Assembly, and entrust “special responsibility” to the Governor to ensure its proper functioning.
- Article 371D (32nd Amendment Act, 1973:
It was substituted by The Andhra Pradesh Re- organisation Act, 2014), Andhra Pradesh and Telangana
President must ensure “equitable opportunities and facilities” in “public employment and education to people from different parts of the state”. He may require the state government to organize “any class or classes of posts in a civil service of, or any class or classes of civil posts under, the State into different local cadres for different parts of the State”. He has similar powers vis-à-vis admissions in educational institutions.
- Article 371E: Allows for the establishment of a university in Andhra Pradesh by a law of Parliament. But this is not a “special provision” in the sense of the others in this part.
- Article 371F (36th Amendment Act, 1975), Sikkim: The members of the Legislative Assembly of Sikkim shall elect the representative of Sikkim in the House of the People. To protect the rights and interests of various sections of the population of Sikkim, Parliament may provide for the number of seats in the Assembly, which may be filled only by candidates from those sections.
- Article 371G (53rd Amendment Act, 1986), Mizoram: Parliament cannot make laws on “religious or social practices of the Mizos, Mizo customary law and procedure, administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Mizo customary law, ownership and transfer of land… unless the Assembly… so decides”.
- Article 371H (55th Amendment Act, 1986), Arunachal Pradesh: The Governor has a special responsibility with regard to law and order, and “he shall, after consulting the Council of Ministers, exercise his individual judgment as to the action to be taken”.
- Article 371J (98th Amendment Act, 2012), Karnataka: There is a provision for a separate development board for the Hyderabad-Karnataka region. There shall be “equitable allocation of funds for developmental expenditure over the said region”, and “equitable opportunities and facilities” for people of this region in government jobs and education. A proportion of seats in educational institutions and state government jobs in Hyderabad-Karnataka can be reserved for individuals from that region.
Often these special provisions provided by the constitution is given as an example for ‘asymmetry’ in Indian federalism
- “Asymmetric federalism” is understood to mean federalism based on unequal powers and relationships in political, administrative and fiscal arrangements spheres between the units constituting a federation.
- Asymmetry in the arrangements in a federation can be viewed in both vertical (between Center and states) and horizontal (among the states) senses
Evidences of this ‘asymmetry’ in India
- A strong Union: Residuary powers vested with it, it is an indestructible Union with destructible States constituting it, Emergency provisions give the Union overriding powers over the States to tackle any adverse exigency, power to initiate a constitutional amendment lies with the Union, President’s Rule, Governor’s office, etc.
- Special provisions for some States: Article 371 of the Constitution makes some special provisions for States or regions of States that are socio-economically backward, have internal security challenges, difficult geographical conditions, predominance of tribal populations with distinct identity and cultures, etc.
- Allocation of Parliamentary seats to the States is not uniform but on the basis of population
- The Sixth Schedule envisage special provisions for and autonomy to tribal areas in four northeastern States
- Special Category Status (SCS) given to 11 States as a means of financially assisting States at a relative disadvantage due to various factors
This scheme of ‘asymmetrical federalism’ has been adopted by India due to its unique socio-economic and political circumstances:
- Political: in the interests of the nation’s unity and integrity, resentment of some historically backward or indigenous population dominated States have to be addressed so that they do not give rise to separatist tendencies; a stable government at the Centre requires cooperation from all the States. This led to greater autonomy for states included in sixth schedule, special powers to J&K under article 370, union territories in India, greater powers to centre vis-à-vis state to ensure uniformity and unity etc
- Social: social development has not been uniform in the country; the southern States have mostly been ahead than their counterparts (as revealed by their higher literacy, better maternal and child health, etc.), hence special provisions, packages and developmental focus were necessitated in favor of the States lagging behind. Ex: Protection to certain tribal areas in the country
- Economic: industrial and economic growth has been geographically skewed in India which has also necessitated asymmetrical federalism, Ex: Special category provisions given to some states, higher share of Central government in Centrally Sponsored Schemes
Specific socio-economic and political circumstances warrant the ‘asymmetrical’ federal structure of Indian polity. It is important to fulfill the aspiration of social and economic democracy and to promote egalitarian development throughout the country. It also serves to keep regional resentments under check which if neglected can lead to separatist tendencies as manifested in the demands for statehood. Thus national unity and integrity is also contingent on this scheme of federalism.