ARTICLE 371 AND 6TH SCHEDULE (Syllabus: GS Paper 2 – Polity)

News-CRUX-10     7th March 2024        
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Context: In a meeting with representatives from Ladakh, which has been witnessing protests recently, Union Home Minister of India offered to extend Article 371-like protections to the region.

Sixth Schedule of the Constitution

  • About: The Sixth Schedule of the Constitution pertains to the administration of tribal areas in specific states of India, namely Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram.
  • Provisions for Autonomous Governance: Inclusion under the Sixth Schedule would empower Ladakh to establish Autonomous District and Regional Councils (ADCs and ARCs) with legislative powers.
  • Extent of Legislative Authority: ADCs and ARCs would have jurisdiction over matters such as forest management, agriculture, inheritance, social customs, and administration of villages and towns.
  • Judicial and Administrative Powers: These councils could establish village councils or courts, appoint officers, and adjudicate disputes among Scheduled Tribes, with potential authority over criminal and civil laws.

Article 371

  • About: Articles 371 and 371-A through J establish "special provisions" aimed at specific states, aiming to ensure representation for various religious and social groups while granting autonomy over their affairs.
  • Protection for Ladakh: Article 371 offers protections for Ladakh's local population, although it doesn't grant the extensive autonomy provided to ADCs and ARCs under the Sixth Schedule.
  • Evolution of Article 371: Initially, Article 371 required the establishment of "development boards" in Maharashtra and Gujarat, with subsequent states receiving additional special provisions as they were created.
  • Safeguards for Nagaland and Mizoram: Article 371-A and 371-G safeguard Nagas and Mizos by preventing Parliament from enacting laws that affect their social, religious, or customary practices without state Assembly concurrence.
  • Special Committees in Assam and Manipur: Articles 371-B and 371-C permit the formation of special committees in the Legislative Assemblies of Assam and Manipur, comprising MLAs elected from tribal and Hill areas respectively.
  • Reservations in Sikkim Legislative Assembly: Article 371-F introduces reservations in the Sikkim Legislative Assembly to safeguard the rights and interests of various population segments.
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