Call to bring Arunachal Pradesh under the ambit of the Sixth Schedule’

  • Category
    Polity
  • Published
    17th Aug, 2020

Context

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 the Sixth Schedule or Article 371 (A) of the Constitution.

About

v  What is the Sixth Schedule? 

  • According toArticle 244 of the Indian Constitution, the Sixth Schedule consists of provisions for the administration of tribal areas in-
    • Assam
    • Meghalaya
    • Tripura
    • Mizoram
  • 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 bodiesrepresenting a district to which the Constitution has given varying degrees of autonomy within the state legislature.   
  • The governors of these states can-
    • He/she is empowered to reorganise boundaries of the tribal areas.
    • He/she can choose to include or exclude any area, increase or decrease the boundaries and unite two or more autonomous districts into one.
    • He/she can also alter or change the names of autonomous regions without a separate legislation.  

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
    • one in Tripura
  • These regions are named as district council of (name of district) and regional council of (name of region).
  • Each autonomous district and regional council consists 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.

Bodoland Territorial Council

  • The Bodoland Territorial Council, however, is an exception as it can constitute up to 46 members out of which 40 are elected.
  • Of these 40 seats, 35 are reserved for the Scheduled Tribes and non-tribal communities, five are unreserved and the rest six are nominated by the governor from unrepresented communities of the Bodoland Territorial Areas District (BTAD). 

What are the demands?

  • The demand is to bring entire Arunachal Pradesh under the ambit of the Sixth Schedule or under Article 371(A) or 371(G).
  • These articles would provide special rights to all Arunachalees on matters of religious and social practices, customary law, land (ownership, transfer and control) etc under the India Constitution.

The current governing structure

  • Fifth Schedule: The Frontier State bordering Bhutan, China and Myanmar is under the Fifth Schedule that “does not provide special rights for the indigenous communities” unlike the Sixth Schedule.
  • Sixth Schedule: The Sixth Schedule currently includes 10 autonomous district councils in four northeastern States — Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura.
  • Article 371 (A): Nagaland, on the other hand, is governed by Article 371 (A), 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.
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