Administration of Tribal Areas

Administration of  Tribal  Areas

Areas under Schedule 6

Assam 1. North Cachar Hills
2. Karbi Anglong
3. Bodoland
Meghalaya 1. Khasi Hills
2. Jaintia Hills
3. Garo Hills
Tripura Tripura Tribal Areas District
Mizoram 1. Chakma
2. Mara
3. Lai

Need of 6th Schedule

  • Tribes of other states have more or less assimilated with culture of majority of people where they live but Tribes in these states still have their roots in their own culture .
  • Needs to be treated differently . As a result,  sizable autonomy given to them in Governance

Features of 6th Schedule

  • Tribal Areas in these areas to be called Autonomous Districts but fall inside authority of State concerned
  • If more Tribes in Autonomous District ,then Governor can divide district to various Autonomous Regions
  • Each A.D has District Council consisting of 30 members
26 Elected by Universal Adult Franchise . Tenure of 5 years
4 Nominated by Governor and hold office till pleasure of Governor
  • Each Autonomous Region has separate Regional Council
  • Legislative power – District and Regional Councils administers area under them and can make laws on specified matters like land , forest, canal water, shifting agriculture, money lending etc . But  these laws require assent of Governor
  • Councils empowered to collect revenue and impose tax on specified things
  • Acts of Parliament and State assembly don’t apply to these areas or apply with certain modifications

Jan 2019 : Union cabinet approved  constitutional amendment stating that Finance Commission will now “recommend the devolution of financial resources” to the district councils in the Sixth Schedule areas.

Analysis of working of 6th Schedule

  • Representation Issues
    • Demography has changed a lot over last six decades but changes are not effectively represented in the structure of Autonomous District Councils (ADCs)
    • Women need to be represented in them . Unlike in Panchayati Raj Institutions , there isn’t any provision of reservation wrt women
  • Governance Issue
    • Poor quality of governance . Many of them have not codified even the customary laws
    • Corruption and illegal activities –  Some members of autonomous council are helping the extremist group factions. North Cachar autonomous council is under scrutiny of CBI and NIA
  • Financial Issues
    • Financial dependence on the state and centre for funds
    • No provisions regarding Audit of accounts 
    • State Finance Commission is not constitutionally bound to include Terms of References wrt Schedule 6 Areas . They don’t get any grants like PRIs and hence are always under Financial Crunch
  • Issues wrt Elections
    • No  express  provision  for  holding  election  within 6 months  of  the  date  of  dissolution  of  a  District Councils.
    • In elections , no Model Code of Conduct and no expenditure ceiling.  
    • Anti Defection Laws are not applicable.
  • No further decentralisation – ADCs have not gone for further decentralisation and not formed Autonomous Regions and Regional Councils in case there are more tribes  .  For example in Bodo Territorial Area districts, there is only district council although there are other Tribes in that region too.
  • Concept  of  Sixth  Schedule   has  encouraged ethnic  divisions. 

Measures to improve working of 6th Schedule

  • Training and capacity building of Autonomous District Council Members for healthy governance.
  • Regular elections should be conducted by State Election Commissions
  • Create a permanent watchdog with powers to order inquiry and initiate actions when irregularities are discovered
  • Many activities are undertaken by State Government as well as District Councils. This duplication is a major source of confusion and obfuscates responsibility. Clarity of functions and roles is needed.
  • Venkatachaliah  Commission,  2002 (recommendations)
    • Audit of accounts  by  the  Comptroller and  Auditor-General  of  India.
    • Make  the  Anti-Defection  Law   applicable  to  the  Sixth  Schedule areas.
  • Ramachandran  Committee, 2007 (recommendations)
    • Remove overlaps  in  functional  responsibilities  between  the States  and District  Councils.
    • Need to constitute State Finance Commission for recommending ways to devolve  funds to District Councils & Regional Councils
  • 14th Finance Commission (recommendations)
    • Finances of 6th Schedule Areas should also be looked at par with Panchayati Raj Institutions

125th Constitutional Amendment Bill

Bill Following are the issues the bill seeks to address:

  • Bill proposes that Finance Commission will now recommend the financial devolution to the Autonomous District council.
  • Bill increases the number of members in some council  (more than 30) considering demands  that some councils were not able to represent major and minor tribes
  • Reserves at least one-third of the seats for women in the village and municipal councils.

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