Article 244 in Part X of the Indian Constitution deals with the governance of Scheduled areas and Tribal areas. The scheduled and tribal areas are treated differently from other areas in a country because these areas are inhabited by ‘aboriginals‘ who are socially and economically backwards. Therefore, to improve their condition, the whole of administrating machinery operating in a state is not extended to these scheduled and tribal areas. The Central government has somewhat greater responsibility for these areas.
Article 244(1) under the Fifth Schedule of the Indian Constitution deals with the administration and control of Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes in any State except the four states: Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Mizoram.
Article 244(2) under the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution provides the special provisions for the administration of tribal areas in four northeastern states of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram.
Article 244-A of the Constitution provides for the formation of an Autonomous State comprising certain tribal areas in Assam and the establishment of the local legislature, Council of Ministers, or both, therefore.
Article 339 of the Indian Constitution laid out the Union’s control over the administration of Scheduled Areas and the welfare of Scheduled Tribes.
Administration of Scheduled Areas (Fifth Schedule)
The various features of the administration of Scheduled area are contained in the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution, which are as follow:
Declaration of Scheduled Areas
Indian Constitution empowers the President to declare an area to be a Scheduled Area. With the consultation of the Governor of the State, the President can also increase or decrease its area, and alter the boundary lines of the Scheduled Area. He can also cancel such designation or make fresh orders redefining the scheduled area in consultation with the governor of the State concerned.
Executive Power of Centre and State
Both the Centre and State play their role in the administration and control of Scheduled Areas. The Governor of the State (having a Scheduled Area) has a special responsibility to submit a report to the President regarding the administration of such areas, annually or whenever required by the President. The executive power of the Centre extends to give direction to the States regarding the management of the Scheduled Areas.
Tribal Advisory Council
A tribal advisory council has to be established in each State having the Scheduled area to advise on the welfare and advancement of Scheduled Tribes. The council has 20 members, three-fouth of whom are the representatives of the scheduled tribes in that State Legislative Assembly. President can also direct to form of a similar council in a State having only Scheduled tribes, but not Scheduled Areas.
Laws applicable to the Scheduled Area
Under the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution of India, the power to decide whether any particular act of the Parliament (or State legislature), implies to the Scheduled area in a State, lies in the hands of the Governor of the State concerned. He can direct any particular law to apply with special modifications and exceptions in such areas.
In consultation with the tribal advisory council, the Governor can also make regulations for the peace and good government of a scheduled area. Such regulations may:
- Restrict or prohibit the transfer of land by or among the members of the scheduled tribes in these areas.
- Regulate the allotment of the land to the Schedule tribe members in such areas.
- Regulate the business of money lending concerning schedule tribes.
Also, a regulation made by the Governor may repeal or amend any act of the Parliament or State legislation applicable to the Schedule area. But, all these types of regulations require the assent of the President.
Commission to report on Administration
The Constitution of India requires the President to appoint a commission to report on the administration and the welfare of the Scheduled areas and tribes in the States. President can appoint the commission at any time but compulsorily after ten years of the Constitution’s commencement.
Hence the first commission headed by U. N. Dhebar was appointed in 1960 and submitted its report in 1961. The second commission chaired by Dilip Singh Bhuria was set up in 2002 and submitted its report in 2004.
There are ten states in India having Scheduled Areas. These are Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Himachal Pradesh.
Administration of Tribal Areas (Sixth Schedule)
The various features of the administration of the Tribal Area contained in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution are as follows:
1. Under the Sixth Schedule, the Tribal Areas in the four northeastern states of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram have been constituted as the Autonomous district. However, these districts do not fall outside the executive authority of the State concerned.
2. The Governor of the State is empowered to organize and re-organize the tribal area as an autonomous district. He can increase or decrease their areas, and alter the name, and boundaries of such tribal areas.
3. If one autonomous district has different tribes, the governor can divide that autonomous district into several Autonomous Regions.
4. Each autonomous district has a District Council.
- The District Council has 30 members.
- Out of these 30 members, 4 members are nominated by the Governor. These nominated members hold the office at the pleasure of the Governor.
- The remaining 26 members are elected based on adult franchise, having a term of office of five years unless the council gets dissolved earlier.
5. Likewise, each autonomous region in the district also has a separate regional council.
6. The district and regional council administers the area under their jurisdiction and makes laws on specified matters such as land, forests, canal water, local administration, Jhum cultivation, inheritance of property, etc. However, all such laws require the assent of the Governor.
7. The district and regional Councils under their territorial jurisdiction may constitute Village Councils (or Courts) for the trial of suits & cases between the tribal parties. The High Court can also take over such cases but only after being specified by the Governor.
8. The Central and State acts do not apply to autonomous districts and autonomous regions unless accepted or applied with specified modifications and exceptions.
9. The district council can establish, construct or manage dispensaries, primary schools, roads, markets, ferries, fisheries, and waterways in the district.
10. The district council within their jurisdiction makes the regulation for the control of money lending & trading by non-tribal. But, such type of regulation requires the governor’s assent. They can assess and collect land revenue and also impose certain taxes.
11. A Commission can be appointed by the governor to examine and report on the matters related to the administration of autonomous districts or regions. Governor may dissolve the district council or regional council on the recommendation of the Commission.
12. The tribal areas in the four northeastern states are as follow:
|1. North Cachar Hills District.
2. Karbi Anglong District.
3. Bodoland Territorial Areas District.
|1. Khasi Hills District.
2. Jaintia Hills District.
3. The Garo Hills District.
|1. Tripura Tribal Areas District
|1. The Chakma District.
2. The Mara District.
3. The Lai District.