The assembly of Arunachal Pradesh unanimously passed the resolution. This resolution was passed for inclusion in the sixth schedule. The Chief Minister, Pema Khandu said that inclusion under this section is necessary. This is meant to protect the tribal population. He also said that sadly Arunachal Pradesh is the only northeastern state which doesn’t have any provision for the protection of their tribal population.
As per the 2011 census of India, the total population of Arunachal Pradesh is 13.84 lakhs while 9.5 lakhs schedule tribes lived in Arunachal Pradesh in 2011. This means that 70 percent of people from Arunachal Pradesh is tribal. There are currently 4 states under this sixth schedule. These states are Mizoram, Meghalaya, Assam, and Tripura. Under these 4 states, there are 10 autonomous districts. Meanwhile, there are 10 states which have scheduled areas in them. These are declared by the 5th schedule of the Indian Schedule.
What is the Sixth Schedule?
The sixth schedule is one of the 8 schedules of our constitution. As per article 244(2) and 275(1) of the Indian Constitution, special areas have been designated as the Autonomous District Council. This schedule was passed in 1949. This schedule was made to protect the indigenousness of the tribes of a specific area. These areas are called as ‘Scheduled areas’ and ‘tribal areas’. Under this article, the district council has a great amount of power. Any area is declared as the Autonomous District by the President of India. This area can be increased or decreased as per the wish of the governor of that state. These autonomous councils consist of not more than 30 members. Out of these 30, 4 members are nominated by the governor.
Meanwhile, the rest of them are elected through general elections. All the members have a tenure of 5 years. The only exception to the number of members of the council is the Bodoland Territorial Council. They can have a maximum of 46 members. The remaining 40 are elected through elections. Out of these 40, 35 are reserved seats and 5 are unreserved seats. 35 seats are reserved for Scheduled Tribes. The Additional District Councils have civil and judicial powers. This power allows them to constitute village courts. These village courts are used to hear trials of tribes. The jurisdictions of high courts of states that have ADCs are in the hands of the Governor. These councils are empowered to even make their laws. They can make laws on matters like social security, health, forests, and fisheries. Laws of state assembly and center are applicable here only if the governor allows them.
They can even amend the legislation so that their laws are controlled by them. The role of governments of center and state is in restriction from their territorial jurisdiction. This commission is kept in check by the governors. The Governor of that state can appoint a commission. This commission is meant to check the administration work of the council. On their advice, the governor of that state can dissolve the assembly.
Issues with the sixth schedule
This provision of the Indian Constitution has given a lot of powers to the people of Autonomous districts. This gives a lot of conflicts. As one or the other tribe feels been deprived of equality. Even though they are autonomous in lawmaking. They are still dependent on the state of funds. This deprives them of real authority. As any party can be self-reliant without direct control over their finances. The local bodies created under the 73rd amendment of the Indian constitution get more funds than the ADCs. It is often said that these autonomous districts are just a platform for aspiring politicians. They just use them as a platform to move up in politics. Their autonomy is also in question when we consider para 12a of this schedule. This paragraph gives superiority to the states in times of conflict. Their autonomy and power give more chances to corruption. These councils use their power arbitrarily when they deal with industries. They change rules to earn a secret profit sometimes. Moreover, no real development has been seen in these areas.
Benefits of the Autonomous District Councils
These areas are home to various tribes. Their culture and indigenousness are special. If they are opened for all like all the other parts of India, a lot of problems would incur as their culture will be in danger. The depletion of the environment would occur at a faster pace. Declaring them as Autonomous District Councils helps in the preservation of such area. The rules regarding land, forest, marriage are created by the council which would help in the assimilation of the customs and law.
These areas are already special economic zones, which are rich in natural resources and such lands can easily be exploited due to the overuse of the resources, however the presence of councils control this. As they belong to the tribes who live there, they know what is best for them. The policymakers for center and state live in areas that are completely detached from these areas, this makes the national law sometimes conflicting for these regions. Hence, the presence of the councils helps in creating law work in a better way.
What lays ahead?
Different areas have time to time asked for inclusion in Autonomous District Councils. The latest being the state of Arunachal Pradesh and the union territory of Ladakh. These demands never cease. The government needs to keep a check on the work that these councils do. There needs to be a better way of sending the funds to these councils. We need not force these areas to assimilate into the general public.
One of the best things is the issue of ILP. ILP or inner line permit is a document that any citizen needs to take before entering Arunachal Pradesh. These ILPs should be made applicable in more areas that have a high number of tribes. These ILPs prohibits the stay of people who are not from these specific areas in that zone. Visiting such zones, they need permission from the government. Currently, under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, Arunachal Pradesh is protected by the rule of ILP.
Mahatma Gandhi once told his idea of the Ideal Village. He told that in India, every village must be given enough power to resolve their issues on their own. They must be given funds, training, and education so that they can empower themselves. This was his vision for a perfect Indian village. This would help in creating small blocks of area, which would be independent. Then these villages should be combined to form a stronger self-reliable India. This would help in creating a nation that has successfully maintained its independence and its diverse nature. This is the basic idea that the sixth schedule is formed on. To give actual power at the ground level for areas that are very much behind in development.
This schedule is meant to protect the indigenous people of an area. But the government needs to keep an eye on these areas. If power is given without checks, it leads to anarchy. We need to protect the tribal people of India but at the same time not destroy the unity. Giving autonomy to a lot of ADCs would become a threat to this unity. People might use this to form separate states. We have to avoid conflicts and at the same time develop these areas.
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