Sixth Schedule of the Constitution
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 VI Schedule or Article 371A.
• At present, Arunachal Pradesh is under the V Schedule that “does not provide special rights for the indigenous communities” unlike the VI Schedule.
• Both the Fifth Schedule and Sixth Schedule in the Constitution of India are made in order to protect the interests of Scheduled Tribes.
• Fifth Schedule: It deals with the administration and control of Scheduled Areas as well as of Scheduled Tribes residing in any State other than the States of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram. Tribal habitations in the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir have not been brought under the Fifth or Sixth Schedule.
• Sixth Schedule: It consists of provisions for the administration of tribal areas in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram, according to Article 244 of the Constitution. These provisions are provided under Article 244(2) and Article 275(1) of the Indian Constitution. It currently includes 10 autonomous district councils in four north-eastern States — Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura.
Reason for demand:
The Sixth Schedulewas passed by the Constituent Assembly in 1949, it seeks to safeguard the rights of tribal population through the formation of Autonomous District Councils (ADC).
ADCs are bodies representing a district to which the Constitution has given varying degrees of autonomy within the state legislature.
The governors of these states are empowered to reorganise boundaries of the tribal areas.
In simpler terms, the governor can choose to include or exclude any area, increase or decrease the boundaries and unite two or more autonomous districts into one. They can also alter or change the names of autonomous regions without a separate legislation.
Nagaland is governed by Article 371A, 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.
Autonomous Districts and Regional Councils
Along with ADCs, the Sixth Schedule also provides for separate Regional Councils for each area constituted as an autonomous region.
In all, there are 10 areas in the Northeast that are registered as autonomous districts – three in Assam, Meghalaya and Mizoram and one in Tripura. These regions are named as district councils and regional councils.
Each autonomous district and regional council consist of not more than 30 members, of which four are nominated by the governor and the rest via elections. All of them remain in power for a term of five years.
ADCs empowered with Civil and Judicial powers
The ADCs are empowered with civil and judicial powers, and can constitute village courts within their jurisdiction to hear trials of cases involving the tribes.
Governors of states that fall under the VI Schedule specifies the jurisdiction of High Courts for each of these cases.
The councils are also empowered to make legislative laws on matters like land, forests, fisheries, social security, entertainment, public health, etc. with due approval from the governor.
The roles of the central and state governments are restricted from the territorial jurisdiction of these autonomous regions.
Acts passed by Parliament and state legislatures may or may not be levied in these regions unless the President and the governor gives her or his approval, with or without modifications in the laws for the autonomous regions.
The VI Schedule provides tribal communities considerable autonomy in the lines of Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya and Mizoram which are autonomous regions. Likewise, inclusion of Arunachal Pradesh under VI Schedule would enable the state to own the legitimate ownership rights over its own natural resources and make it self-sufficient without having too much dependency on central grants.
PEPPER IT WITH
Inner Line Permit, Salient features of the Citizenship (Amdt.) Bill, 2019; V Schedule, North Eastern Council, Article 244, 370, 371, 371A, 371B, 371C, 371D, 371E. 371F, 371G, 371H, 371I, 371J, Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873