Sixth Schedule

About Sixth Schedule

  • The Sixth Schedule consists of provisions for the administration of tribal areas in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram, according to Article 244 of the Indian Constitution. 
  • 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 bodies representing a district to which the Constitution has given varying degrees of autonomy within the state legislature.   
  • Along with ADCs, the Sixth Schedule also provides for separate Regional Councils for each area constituted as an autonomous region.
  • The governors of these states are empowered to reorganise boundaries of the tribal areas. In simpler terms, she or he can choose to include or exclude any area, increase or decrease the boundaries and unite two or more autonomous districts into one. They can also alter or change the names of autonomous regions without a separate legislation.  
  • The ADCs are empowered with civil and judicial powers.
  • ADCs have up to 30 members with a term of five years, and can make laws, rules and regulations with regard to land, forest, water, agriculture, village councils, health, sanitation, village- and town-level policing, inheritance, marriage and divorce, social customs and mining, etc.
    • The Bodoland Territorial Council in Assam is an exception with more than 40 members and the right to make laws on 39 issues.
  • The Sixth Schedule applies to the Northeastern states of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram (three Councils each), and Tripura (one Council).

Autonomous District Council

  • 243M (1) of the Indian constitution made special provision that nothing in the part IX of the constitutions (provisions for creating Panchayat) shall apply to the Scheduled Areas referred to in clause (1) (5th Schedule), and the tribal areas referred to in clause (2), of the Article 244 (6th Schedule)
  • The Sixth Schedule makes provision that these tribal areas will be autonomous districts and be governed by Autonomous District Councils
  • Tribal areas in state of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura & Mizoram have been constituted as autonomous districts (i.e. falls under the executive authority of state concerned)
  • There shall be a District Council consists of not more than thirty members, of whom not more than four persons shall be nominated by the Governor and the rest shall be elected on the basis of adult suffrage. 
  • The elected members of the District Council shall hold office for a term of five years from the date appointed for the first meeting of the Council after the general elections to the Council, unless the District Council is sooner dissolved under paragraph 16 and a nominated member shall hold office at the pleasure of the Governor:

Powers of the Governor with regard to District Councils

  • If there are different Scheduled Tribes in an autonomous district, the Governor may, by public notification, divide the area or areas inhabited by them into autonomous regions
  • The Governor may by public notification :
    • Include any area in any of the Parts of the table in schedule
    • exclude any area in any of the parts of the table in schedule
    • create a new autonomous district
    • increase the area of any autonomous district
    • diminish the area of any autonomous district
    • alter the name of any autonomous district,
    • define the boundaries of any autonomous district
  • The Governor shall make rules for the first constitution of District Councils and Regional Councils in consultation with the existing tribal Councils or other representative tribal organisations within the autonomous districts or regions concerned, and such rules shall provide for :
    • the composition of the District Councils and Regional Councils and the allocation of seats therein;
    • the delimitation of territorial constituencies for the purpose of elections to those Councils;
    • the qualifications for voting at such elections and the preparation of electoral rolls therefor;
    • the qualifications for being elected at such elections as members of such Councils;
    • the term of office of members of Regional Councils
    • any other matter relating to or connected with elections or nominations to such Councils;
    • the procedure and the conduct of business (including the power to act notwithstanding any vacancy) in the District and Regional Councils;
    • the appointment of officers and staff of the District and Regional Councils

Functions of ADCs as defined in schedule 6

The District and the Regional Councils have the power to make laws with respect to :

  • the allotment, occupation or use, or the setting a part of land. other than land under a reserved forest, for the purpose of agriculture, or grazing, or for residential or other non-agricultural purpose or any other purpose likely to promote the interests of the inhabitantof any village or town;
  • Management of unclassed state forests;
  • The use of any canal, or water course for the purpose of agriculture
  • The regulation of the practice of jhum or other forms of shifting cultivation;
  • The establishment of village or town committees or councils and determination of their powers;
  • Any other matter relating to town or village administration including town or village police, and public health and sanitation;
  • The appointment or succession of chiefs or headmen;
  • The inheritance of property;
  • Marriage and divorce,
  • Social customs
  • All laws shall be submitted forthwith to the Governor and, until assented to by him, shall have no effect.
  • The district council also have power to make regulation with regard to :
    • Regulation and control of trade and money lending by non-tribe within the limits of administrative
    • Regulation and control of primary education, dispensaries, markets, cattle pounds, ferries, fisheries, roads, road transport & water ways within their jurisdiction
    • For the levy and collection of any of the taxes entrusted to them

Act of State Legislature and District Council

  • The legislative power of the district council assume wider importance by the fact that in respect of subjects specifically entrusted to the district councils, no act of the state legislature apply to the autonomous districts unless otherwise directed by the district council concerned and with such exception and modification as the latter may determine.
  • Meghalaya : This privilege is however denied to district council of Meghalaya where the law passed by the State legislature have a precedence over law passed by the district council. Paragraph 12A after being substituted by the North Eastern Areas (Reorganisation) Act, 1971 provides that if any law or regulation made by the District or Regional Council under paragraph 3, 8 or 10 is repugnant to the law made by the Meghalaya Legislature, then the law or regulation made by the District or Regional Council, to the extent of repugnancy be void and the law made by the State Legislature shall prevail. With respect to Acts of Parliament, the power of President to issue notification directing that the any Act will not apply to Meghalaya was retained.
  • Governor has the power to notify whether an act of state legislature applies or not to a district council.
  • The President may, with respect to any Act of Parliament, by notification, direct that it shall not apply to the autonomous district or an autonomous region in the State, or shall apply to such district or region or any part thereof, subject to such exceptions or modifications as he may specify in the notification and any such direction may be given so as to have retrospective effect

Main Revenue Sources of ADCs

  • taxes on professions, trades, callings and employment
  • taxes on animal, vehicles and boats
  • taxes on the entry of goods into a market and sale therein, and tolls on passenger and goods carried on ferries
  • taxes for the maintenance of school, dispensaries or roads.

Can Ladakh be included in Sixth Schedule?

  • Buddhist-dominated Leh district had long demanded UT status because it felt neglected by the erstwhile state government, which was dominated by politicians from Kashmir and Jammu.
  • In September 2019, the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes recommended the inclusion of Ladakh under the Sixth Schedule, noting that the new UT was predominantly tribal (more than 97%), people from other parts of the country had been restricted from purchasing or acquiring land there, and its distinct cultural heritage needed preservation.
  • 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.
  • Ladakh’s inclusion in the Sixth Schedule would be difficult. The Constitution is very clear, Sixth Schedule is for the Northeast. For tribal areas in the rest of the country, there is the Fifth 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.

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