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Consider tribal area status for Ladakh, says ST commission (GS2 – Polity)

The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) wrote to Home Minister Amit Shah and Tribal Affairs Minister Arjun Munda, recommending that UT of Ladakh be declared a tribal area under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. NCST feels this will help “democratic devolution of powers, preserve and promote distinct culture of the region, protect agrarian rights including rights on land and enhance transfer of funds for speedy development of the region”. 

Tribal status for Ladakh 

➢ The total tribal population in the Ladakh region is more than 97%.

➢ The major Scheduled Tribes (STs) in Ladakh are (a) Balti Beda (b) Bot (or Boto) (c) Brokpa (d) Changpa (e) Garra (f) Mon and (g) Purigpa.

➢ Hence, tribal status will help in preserving and promoting several distinct cultural heritages of these communities in the Ladakh region.

➢ Further, the inclusion in the sixth schedule will also help in the democratic devolution of powers in the region and will also enhance the transfer of funds for speedy development of the region.

Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution 

➢ The Constitution of India makes special provisions for the administration of the tribal dominated areas in four states namely Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.

➢ As per article 244 and 6th Schedule, these areas are called “Tribal Areas”, which are technically different from the Scheduled Areas under fifth schedule.

➢ The Governors of these four states are empowered to declare some tribal dominated districts / areas of these states as autonomous districts and autonomous regions.

➢ It provides for the creation of autonomous District and Regional Councils in these tribal areas and they enjoy a certain degree of administrative, legislative, judicial and financial autonomy.

Autonomous Districts 

➢ Autonomous District are administrative bodies constituted by the governor.

➢ The governor is empowered to organise and re-organise the autonomous districts.

➢ The acts of Parliament or the state legislature do not apply to these autonomous districts or apply with specified modifications and exceptions.

District Councils 

➢ 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.

Powers of Councils 

➢ 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 governor.

Village Councils

➢ 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 the High Court over these suits and cases is specified by the governor.

National Commission of Scheduled Tribes(ST) 

➢ National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) is a constitutional body.

➢ Established by amending Article 338 and inserting a new Article 338A in the Constitution through the Constitution (89th Amendment) Act, 2003.

➢ The Commission comprises a Chairperson, a Vice-Chairperson and three full-time Members (including one lady Member). The term of members is three years from the date of assumption of charge.

➢ NCST is empowered to investigate and monitor matters relating to safeguards provided for STs under the Constitution or under other laws or under the Govt order.

➢ The Commission is also authorized to inquire into specific complaints relating to rights and safeguards of STs and to participate and advise in the Planning Process relating to the socio-economic development of STs and to evaluate the progress of their development under the Union and States.

➢ The commission submits its report to the President annually on the working of safeguards and measures required for effective implementation of Programmers/ Schemes relating to welfare and socio-economic development of STs.

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