Fifth Schedule, Scheduled Areas and Tribal Advisory Council in India

Schedules areas are those areas which are treated differently from other areas in a state in the sense that whole of the administrative machinery operating in the state is not extended to these areas and the Central Government has somewhat greater responsibility for these Areas. The Scheduled areas can be established under Article 244 and 5th Schedule of the Constitution in any state except Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.

Declaration of scheduled areas

The scheduled areas can be declared by President by order. The President at any time can order that the whole or part of a schedule area ceases to be a scheduled area. Thus, the President of India has the power to declare an area as scheduled area and also the power to declare a scheduled area to be ceased to be known as scheduled area. Further, President can also by order alter the boundaries of the scheduled areas. However, to change the boundary of a scheduled area, the president is required to consult the Governor of the state in which the area is located.  No separate law / act is needed to establish, change boundaries or discontinue a scheduled area.

Criteria for scheduled areas

The Constitution does not mention any specific criteria for establishing the Scheduled Areas. However, since they are established for protection of the tribals and aboriginals, the most basic critera is preponderance of tribal population in those areas. Further, underdevelopment and a marked disparity in economic standard of the people are also criteria. They embody principles followed in “Excluded” and ‘Partially-Excluded Areas’ under the Government of India Act 1935; Schedule ‘B’ of recommendations of the Excluded and Partially Excluded Areas Sub Committee of Constituent Assembly and Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes Commission 1961.

Objective

The key objective is to provide protection to the tribals living in the Scheduled Areas from alienation of their lands and natural resources to non-tribals.

Report of Governor

In these areas, the Governor has been given plenary powers as far as their administration is concerned. The executive power of the Union extends to the giving of directions to the State as to the administration of these areas.  Governor of these states need make report to the President annually or as needed by President regarding the administration of the Scheduled Areas in that State.

Tribal Advisory Council

To take care of the welfare of the scheduled tribes, a Tribal Advisory Council is constituted in each state with a scheduled area.

  • This Tribal Advisory Council will be made of maximum 20 members out of which the three-fourth will be Scheduled Tribes MLAs in the state.
  • It advises the Governor on matters pertaining to the welfare and advancement of the Scheduled Tribes in the State.
  • The number of members of these councils, mode of their appointment, appointment of the chairman, officers and servants of these councils, conduct of its meeting and general business are controlled by the Governor of the state in question”.
  • Governor also can make a notification that that any particular Act of Parliament or of the Legislature of the State shall not apply to a Scheduled Area or any part thereof in the State or shall apply to a Scheduled Area or any part thereof in the State.
  • Governor can also make rules for the better management of peace and good governance in such areas.

Thus, article 244 confers plenary power on the Governor to bring independent legislations in respect of tribal affairs in consultation with the TAC. Due to this, the role of TAC is very crucial in the governance of Scheduled Areas.  The negligence to constitute the TAC is equal to negating the rights of tribals and stalling the process of governance.

Current Tribal Advisory Councils

At present (February 2016), ten states viz. Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan and Telangana have established Tribal Advisory Councils in Scheduled areas. Further, two other States viz. Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, have also set up TAC in Non-scheduled areas.

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