Sixth Schedule of Indian Constitution

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    31st Jan, 2019
  • The Union Cabinet approved a constitutional amendment to increase the powers of the autonomous councils in the Sixth Schedule areas of the Northeast and plans to introduce the bill in the upcoming budget session.
  • The Finance Commission will be mandated to recommend devolution of financial resources to them.

Context

  • The Union Cabinet approved a constitutional amendment to increase the powers of the autonomous councils in the Sixth Schedule areas of the Northeast and plans to introduce the bill in the upcoming budget session.
  • The Finance Commission will be mandated to recommend devolution of financial resources to them.

About

What it means?

  • The cabinet approves landmark amendment to Article 280 and Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. The amendments will significantly improve the financial resources and powers of the autonomous districts councils in Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura.
  • The move would mean that close to 1 crore people in 10 autonomous district councils would have more access to funds for local development.

Proposed Amendments

  • Panchayat and Municipal body elections in these districts will be conducted by the state election commissions.
  • One third of the seats in the local body will be reserved for women. So far the village councils were headed by traditional village heads.
  • The village councils will be empowered to prepare plans for economic development and social justice, including those related to agriculture, land improvement, implementation of land reforms, minor irrigation, water management, animal husbandry, rural electrification, small scale industries and social forestry.
  • The amendment also provides for transfer of additional 30 subjects including departments of Public Works, Forests, Public Health Engineering, Health and Family Welfare, Urban Development and Food and Civil Supply to Karbi Anglong Autonomous Territorial Council and Dima Hasao Autonomous Territorial Council in Assam.
  • The Finance Commission would be mandated to recommend devolution of financial resources to the councils. Till now, the autonomous councils have depended on grants from Central Ministries and the State governments for specific projects.
  • The amendment proposes renaming the existing autonomous councils as Karbi Anglong Autonomous Territorial Council (KAATC), Dima Hasao Autonomous Territorial Council (DHATC), Garo Hills Autonomous Territorial Council (GHATC), Khasi Hills Autonomous Territorial Council (KHATC), Jaintia Hills Autonomous Territorial Council (JHATC) and Tripura Tribal Area Autonomous Territorial Council (TTAATC) as the present jurisdiction of these councils extend to more than one district.

Who will benefit from the move?

  • Three districts in Assam-Karbi Anglong, North Kachar Hills Autonomous District Council, Bodo Autonomous District Council, three in Meghalaya; Khasi, Garo and Jaintia Hills, three in Mizoram; Lai, Chakma and Mara, and one in Tripura- Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council will benefit from the move.

    The tribal areas in the States of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram are separately dealt with and provisions for their administration are to be found in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution.

     Salient provisions:

    • The governor is empowered to organise and re-organise the autonomous districts. Thus, he can increase or decrease their areas or change their names or define their boundaries and so on.
    • If there are different tribes in an autonomous district, the governor can divide the district into several autonomous regions.
    • Each autonomous district has a district council consisting of 30 members, of whom four are nominated by the Governor and the remaining 26 are elected on the basis of adult franchise.
    • The elected members hold office for a term of five years (unless the council is dissolved earlier) and nominated members hold office during the pleasure of the governor. Each autonomous region also has a separate regional council.
    • The district and regional councils administer the areas under their jurisdiction. They can make laws on certain specified matters like land, forests, canal water, shifting cultivation, village administration, inheritance of property, marriage and divorce, social customs and so on. But all such laws require the assent of the Governor.
    • The district and regional councils within their territorial jurisdictions can constitute village councils or courts for trial of suits and cases between the tribes. They hear appeals from them. The jurisdiction of High Court over these suits and cases is specified by the Governor.
    • The acts of Parliament or the state legislature do not apply to autonomous districts and autonomous regions or apply with specified modifications and exceptions.
    • The Governor can appoint a commission to examine and report on any matter relating to the administration of the autonomous districts or regions. He may dissolve a district or regional council on the recommendation of the commission.

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