Sixth Schedule of Indian Constitution

Sixth Schedule of Indian Constitution

Recent context: UT of Ladakh has demanded that Ladakh should be included in the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution.

What is the Sixth Schedule?

The sixth schedule contains provisions related to the Administration of Tribal Areas in the States of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram. The Sixth Schedule provides for the administration of certain tribal areas as autonomous entities. The provisions of the sixth schedule are provided under Articles 244(2) and 275(1) of the Indian Constitution. 

What does the Sixth Schedule Provide:

  • The Sixth Schedule mandates that the administration of tribal areas occurs through the establishment of Autonomous Districts and Autonomous Regions.
  • The Governor of the State is empowered to determine the area or areas as administrative units of the Autonomous Districts and Autonomous Regions.
  • The Governor has the power to create a new Autonomous District/Region or alter the territorial jurisdiction or the name of any Autonomous District or Autonomous Region.

Features of the Sixth Schedule

The various features of administration contained in the Sixth Schedule are as follows:

  • Autonomous districts have been established in the tribal areas of the four states: Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram. But, they do not fall outside the executive authority of the state concerned. 
  • If there are different tribes in an autonomous district, the governor can divide the district into several autonomous regions. 
  • Each Autonomous District shall have a District Council consisting of not more than thirty members. Out of which four are nominated by the Governor while the rest are elected on the basis of adult franchise. 
  • Elected members serve for five years unless the council dissolves earlier, and nominated members serve at the governor’s pleasure.
  • Each autonomous region also has a separate regional council. 

Administration of Tribal Areas

  • The Sixth Schedule has provision for the creation of Autonomous District Councils, and Regional Councils endowed with certain legislative, executive, judicial, and financial powers. 
  • However, the administrative powers and functions of these District Councils and Regional Councils differ from State to State. 

District Councils and Regional Councils, as outlined in the Sixth Schedule, have the following summarized powers and functions.

Legislative Functions

  • One of the most important features of the Sixth Schedule is the empowerment of District Councils to make laws. 
  • 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. 
  • However, all laws made under this provision shall have no effect until assented by the Governor of the State.

Executive Functions

  • The District Councils and Regional Councils are given the power to establish, construct, or manage primary schools, dispensaries, markets, cattle ponds, fisheries, roads, road transport, and waterways in the districts. 
  • The Councils are also authorized to prescribe the language and manner of instruction in primary schools.

Judicial Powers

  • The District and Regional Councils are also empowered to constitute Village and District Council Courts for the trial of suits and cases where all parties to the dispute belong to Scheduled Tribes within the district. 
  • Only the High Courts and the Supreme Court hold jurisdiction over suits or cases in the Council Courts.
  • Council Courts are not given the power to decide cases involving offences punishable by death or imprisonment for five or more years.

Financial Powers

  • The District and Regional Councils have the authority to formulate a budget for their respective councils.
  • They are empowered to assess and collect land revenue and impose taxes on professions, trades, animals, vehicles, taxes on entry of goods into the market for sale, the toll on passengers and goods carried in ferries, and taxes for the maintenance of schools, dispensaries or roads within their respective jurisdiction. 
  • The Councils have the authority to issue licenses or leases for mineral extraction within their jurisdiction.

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