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3rd November 2022 (6 Topics)

Protests in Leh, Kargil for Statehood as Ladakh completes 3 years as U.T.


Kargil and Leh have witnessed street protests to press the demand for statehood and special status under the Sixth Schedule.

  • The region has completed three years of Union Territory (U.T.) status this month.
  • The street protest was spearheaded by the Apex Body-Leh (ABL), which is an amalgam of religious and political parties in the district.
  • They are also demanding a constitutional guarantee under the Sixth Schedule on the lines of rights granted to the tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram to safeguard local culture, language, and demography.
  • It is also demanding additional representation in the Parliament.

About the Sixth Schedule:
  • Article 244: The Sixth Schedule under Article 244 provides for the formation of autonomous administrative divisions, Autonomous District Councils (ADCs) that have some legislative, judicial, and administrative autonomy within a state.
  • The Sixth Schedule contains special provisions for the administration of tribal areas in the four northeastern states of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram.
  • It protects tribal populations and provides autonomy to the communities through the creation of autonomous development councils that can frame laws on land, public health, agriculture, and others.
  • It is often argued that it discriminates against non-tribal residents in various ways and infringes upon their fundamental rights.
Autonomous Districts:
  • The tribal areas in these four states have been constituted as autonomous districts. The governor is empowered to organize and re-organize the independent districts.
  • The acts of Parliament or the state legislature do not apply to autonomous districts or apply with specified modifications and exceptions.
  • The power of direction, in this regard, lies either with the President or Governor.
District Council:
  • 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 based on adult franchise.
  • The elected members hold office for a term of five years (unless the council is dissolved earlier) and nominated members to hold office at the pleasure of the governor.
  • Each autonomous region also has a separate regional council.
What is the need for special protection?
  • Special constitutional protections are indeed required for marginalized sections to ensure that historical wrongs done to them are reversed and not repeated, but it is often argued that it has denied justice to the non-tribals.
NCST Recommendation on inclusion into Sixth Schedule:
  • The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) has recommended that the Union Territory (UT) of Ladakh be included in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
  • NCST, a constitutional body to safeguard the socio-cultural rights of Scheduled Tribes, was entrusted with the responsibility of examining the status of tribals in Ladakh, by the Centre.
  • If included, Ladakh will be the only UT in the Sixth Schedule. Also, bestowing such a status to Ladakh would require a constitutional amendment.
Difficulty Behind Ladakh’s Inclusion:
  • Ladakh’s inclusion in the Sixth Schedule would be problematic. The Constitution is obvious, the Sixth Schedule is for the Northeast.
  • For tribal areas in the rest of the country, there is the Fifth Schedule.
  • Notably, no region outside the Northeast has been included in the Sixth Schedule.
  • In fact, even in Manipur, which has predominantly tribal populations in some places, the autonomous councils are not included in the Sixth Schedule.
  • Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh, which are totally tribal, are also not in the Sixth Schedule.
  • However, it remains the prerogative of the government, it can, if it so decides, bring a Bill to amend the Constitution for this purpose.
Constitutional Provisions for Statehood:
  • Indian constitute on empowers the Union government to create new states out of existing states or two merge one state with another. This process is called the reorganization of the states.
  • The basis of reorganization could be linguistic, religious, ethnic, or administrative.
  • Article 3 provides the following procedure:
  • Presidential reference is sent to State Assembly.
  • After presidential reference, a resolution is tabled and passed in Assembly.
  • Assembly has to pass a Bill creating the new State/State.
  • A separate Bill has to be ratified by Parliament.

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