Sixth Schedule discriminates against the non-tribal

Context – The Sixth Schedule was incorporated to protect the rights of the minority tribals living within a larger state dominated by the majority.

More in news

  • Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) an influential students’ body in Meghalaya has put up banners labelling all Bengalis in the state as Bangladeshis.
  • It is also spearheading an agitation for an Inner Line Permit (ILP) to regulate outsiders coming into the state.

What is Inner Line Permit? 

  • The Inner Line Permit is an official travel document that allows Indian citizens to stay in an area under the ILP system. The document is currently required by visitors to Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram.
  • The ILP is issued by the concerned state government .The permits issued are mostly of different kinds, provided separately for tourists, tenants and for other purposes.

What is the Sixth Schedule?

  • The Sixth Schedule consists of provisions for the administration of tribal areas in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram, according to Article 244 of the Indian Constitution.
  • Passed by the Constituent Assembly in 1949, it seeks to safeguard the rights of the tribal population through the formation of Autonomous District Councils (ADC).
  • The ADCs are like miniature states having specific powers and responsibilities in respect of all the three arms of government: legislature, executive and judiciary.
  • The governors of these states are empowered to reorganize boundaries of the tribal areas.

How Sixth Schedule discriminates against the non-tribal resident?

The Sixth Schedule, has faced opposition as it infringes upon the rights of non-tribals and discriminates against them in various ways-

Violating many of the fundamental rights granted to citizens under the Constitution like-

  • The right to equality before law (Article 14).
  • Right against discrimination on the grounds of caste, race, sex, place of birth or religion (Article 15).
  • Right to equality of opportunity in public appointment (Article 16).
  • Right to settle anywhere in India (Article 19).

What were the impacts of Sixth Schedule of the Constitution on non-tribal people of Meghalaya?

  1. Forces migration– the KSU have driven many non-tribals out of the state,
  • The share of population of non-tribals dwindling from 20 per cent in 1972, when the state was carved out of Assam, to 14 per cent in 2011.
  1. Nearly no jobs for non-tribal population– The new State also promptly implemented near total reservation of jobs for its tribal population.
  2. Non-tribal people were barred from acquiring property in Meghalaya.
  3. The state’s abject failure to provide protection to the minority non-tribals or punish those responsible for violence against them.
  4. 90 per cent of the Assembly seats (55 out of 60 in Meghalaya) reserved for the tribals.

What is the way forward?

  • The Sixth Schedule undermines social harmony, stability and economic development of the state and the region.
  • Indeed, it is now the rights of minority non-tribals that need protection.
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