The Sixth Schedule of the Constitution is often referred to as a charter for autonomy of a wide magnitude, but it has failed to decrease the tension between different stakeholders at the ground level. Elaborate. (150 W/ 10 M)

Mentor’s Comment:

Introduction should elaborate about the sixth schedule and its purpose in Indian Constitution and its various provisions.

Main body should clarify about the reason of its adoption, features etc…

Further, your points should talk about the reasons of failure at the ground level. Points like, conflicts between councils, autonomous functioning of some councils, cultural differences among people of same council, migration altering the demographic dividend, political mobilization and will, non implementation of various orders etc…

Bring conclusion by summarizing the points and supplemented by your views.

Model Answer:

  • The Sixth Schedule of Constitution is for Meghalaya, Mizoram, Assam and Tripura. It provides for the formation of district and autonomous councils with special legislature, executive and judicial powers and special powers to president.
  • Article 244 and 275 make provision for creation of the District Councils and regional councils. Each district / regional council is a body corporate which is empowered for administration of the area under its jurisdiction. They are named as “District council of (name of district) and Regional Council of (name of region). These two bodies have perpetual succession and a common seal and shall by the said name sue and be sued.

Reasons for its adoption:

  • To protect tribal identity
  • To ensure development according to Panchsheel Principles of Nehru
  • To ensure development and administration according to the needs of the people

Features:

  • Establishment of tribals autonomous districts and regional councils.
  • Central and state laws can be applied with modification or not applied after approval of President.
  • Councils Legislative Powers – Money lending, local customs, land etc.
  • Council’s executive powers – building homes, roads, schools, hospitals, waterways etc.
  • Judicial Powers – Property and succession disputes dissolution etc according to local laws and customs.

Reasons for failure to decrease tension at the ground level:

  • There are frequent conflicts of interest between the District Councils and the state legislatures. For example, in Meghalaya, despite the formation of the State, the whole of the State continues to be under the Sixth Schedule causing frequent conflicts with the State Government.
  • Various tribal communities with different cultures and customs within one autonomous council for example Bodo Council and Chakma Council in Assam.
  • Inflow of migrants has caused demographic imbalances and increased social tensions.
  • The tribal elite have appropriated all the power and common citizens left helpless.
  • Competition among local officials, police and communities has chocked the development and has increased resentment among the people.
  • These areas lack political mobilization ie. Mainstream parties having regionalism, localism and communism as political ideology which has drag down the developmental work. People here have low political participation.
  • In case of conflict between the District Councils and the State Legislature, the state enjoys the superiority, but then it is alleged that autonomous councils are mere platform for aspiring politicians who nurture ambitions to contest assembly polls in the future.
  • However, there are certain issues due to which the sixth schedule has ended up creating multiple power centers instead of bringing in a genuine process of democratization or autonomy in the region such as Conflict of Power, governor functioning and disparity among autonomous bodies and local bodies.
  • Thus despite autonomy, development benefits have not reached the people and caused isolation in the region.
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