Administration of Scheduled Areas
‘The scheduled areas are treated different from the other areas in the country because they are inhabited by ‘aboriginals’ who are socially and economically rather backward, an special efforts need to be made to improve the condition. Therefore, the whole of the normal administrative machinery operating in a state is not extended to the scheduled areas and the Central government has somewhat greater responsibility for these areas.
The various features of administration contained in the Fifth Schedule are as follows:
1. Declaration of Scheduled Areas: The president is empowered to declare an are to be a scheduled area. He can also in crease or decrease its area, alter its boundary lines, rescind such designation make fresh orders for such redesignation on an area in consultation with the governor of the state concerned.
2. Executive Power of State and Centre: The executive power of a state extends to the scheduled areas therein. But the governor has a special responsibility regarding such areas. He has to submit a report to the president regarding the administration of such areas, annually or whenever so required by the president. The executive’ power of the Centre extends to giving directions to the states regarding the administration of such areas.
3. Tribes Advisory Council: Each state having scheduled areas has to establish a tribes advisory council to advise on welfare and advancement of the scheduled tribes. It is to consist of 20 members, three-fourths of whom are to be the representatives of the scheduled tribes in the state legislative assembly. A similar council can also be established in a state having scheduled tribes but not scheduled areas therein, if the president so directs.
4. Law applicable to Scheduled Areas: The governor is empowered to direct that any particular act of Parliament or the state legislature does not apply to a scheduled area or apply with specified modifications and exceptions. He can also make regulations for the peace and good government of a scheduled area after consulting the tribes advisory council. Such regulations may prohibit or restrict the transfer for land by or among members of the scheduled tribes, regulate the allotment of land to members of the scheduled tribes and regulate the business of money-lending in relation to the scheduled tribes. Also, a regulation may repeal or amend any act of Parliament or the state legislature, which is applicable to a scheduled area. But, all such regulations require the assent of the president.
The Constitution requires the president to appoint a commission to report-on the administration of the scheduled areas and the welfare of the scheduled tribes in the states. He can appoint such a commission at any time but compulsorily after ten years of the commencement of the Constitution. Hence, a commission was appointed in 1960. It was headed by U. N Dhebar and submitted its report in 1961. After four decades, the second commission was appointed in 2002 under the chairmanship of Dilip Singh Bhuria.
Administration of Tribal Areas
The Constitution, under Sixth Schedule, contains special provisions for the administration of tribal areas in the four north-eastern states of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.
The various features of administration contained in the Sixth Schedule are as follows:
1. The tribal areas in the four states of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram have been constituted as autonomous districts4. But, they do not fall outside the executive authority of the state concerned.
2. 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.
3. If there are different tribes in an autonomous district, the governor can divide the district into several autonomous regions.
4. 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.
5. 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 governnor.
6. 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.
7. The district council can establish, construct or manage primary schools, dispensaries, markets, ferries, fisheries, roads and so on in the district. It can also make regulations for the control of money lending and trading by non-tribals. But, such regulations require the assent of the governor.
8. The district and regional councils are empowered to assess and collect land revenue and to impose certain specified taxes.
9. The acts of Parliament or the state legislature do not apply to autonomous districts and autonomous regions or apply with specified modifications and exceptions.
10. 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.