Scheduled and Tribal Areas in India


  • Article 244 (part X) – System of administration for certain areas designated as ‘scheduled areas’ and ‘tribal areas’.
  • Fifth Schedule of the Constitution deals with the administration and control of scheduled areas and scheduled tribes in any state except the four states of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.
  • Administration of scheduled areas (Fifth Schedule) – The scheduled areas are treated differently from the other areas pertaining to inhabited by ‘aboriginals’ who are socially and economically backward, and special efforts needed to be made to improve their condition.

Administration of Schedule Areas

  1. Declaration of Scheduled Areas:

    • President is empowered to declare an area to be a scheduled area.
    • He can increase or decrease its area, alter boundary lines, rescind designation or make fresh orders for redesignation on an area in consultation with the governor of the state concerned.
  1. Executive Power of State and Centre:

    • Executive power of a state extends to the scheduled areas therein.
    • Governor has a special responsibility regarding such areas.
    • Governor submit a report to the president regarding the administration of such areas, annually or whenever so required.
    • Executive power of the Centre extends to giving directions to the states regarding the administration of such areas.
  1. Tribes Advisory Council:

    • Establish by States having scheduled areas.
    • To advise on welfare and advancement of the scheduled tribes.
    • It consists of 20 members, three-fourths of whom are to be the representatives of the STs in the state legislative assembly.

 Law applicable to Scheduled Areas

    • Governor is empowered to direct that any particular act of Parliament or the state legislature does not apply to a scheduled area or apply with specified modifications and exceptions.
    • He can also make regulations for the peace and good government of a scheduled area after consulting the tribes advisory council.
    • Such regulation may repeal or amend any act of Parliament or the state legislature, which is applicable to a scheduled area. But, all such regulations require the assent of the president.
    • Constitution requires President appoints a commission to report on the administration of the scheduled areas and the welfare of the scheduled tribes in the states.
      • First commission appointed in 1960 – headed by U.N. Debar.
      • Second commission appointed in 2002 – Dilip Singh Bhuria.

 Criteria for Declaring Schedule Areas

  • preponderance of tribal population;
  • compactness and reasonable size of the area;
  • under-developed nature of the area; and
  • Marked disparity in economic standard of the people.

Key Fact

  • Tribal Advisory Council is associated with Fifth Scheduled Areas and Autonomous District Council is institution associated with Sixth Scheduled Areas.

Scheduled and Tribal Areas in India

Administration of Tribal Areas

  • 244 (Part X) – special system of administration for Scheduled Areas and Tribal Areas.
  • Sixth Schedule contains special provisions for the administration of tribal areas in the four north-eastern states of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.
  • Presently (2019), there are a total of ten tribal areas in above four states.
  • Three Tier Mechanism – Regional council -> District council -> Village council.

Provisions of 6th Schedule

  • Autonomous districts: The tribal areas in these states have been constituted as autonomous districts, each of which has an autonomous district council and each autonomous region has a separate regional council consisting of 30 members (26 elected for 5 year term and 4 nominated by Governor). Currently, there are 10 such councils.
  • Legislative power: To make laws on certain specified matters like land, forests, canal water, shifting cultivation, village administration, inheritance of property, marriage and divorce etc. with assent of the governor.
  • Judicial power: Councils can constitute village councils or courts for trial of suits and cases between the tribes where the jurisdiction of high court over these suits and cases is specified by the governor.
  • Regulatory power: District council can establish, construct or manage primary schools, dispensaries, markets etc. in the district. It can also make regulations for the control of money lending and trading by non-tribals. But such regulations require the assent of the governor.
  • Tax revenue collection: District and regional councils are empowered to assess and collect land revenue and to impose certain specified taxes.
  • Acts of Parliament or the state legislature do not apply to autonomous districts and autonomous regions or apply with specified modifications and exceptions.
  • Governor can appoint a commission to examine and report on any matter relating to the administration of the autonomous districts or regions.
  • Recently, cabinet approves landmark amendment to Article 280 (Finance commission) and Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. The amendments will significantly improve the financial resources and powers of the autonomous district’s councils in Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura.

Difference between 5th and 6th Schedule Areas

5th Schedule Areas  6th Schedule Areas
Constitution calls them with different names viz. Scheduled Area under 5th schedule. Constitution calls them with different names Viz. Tribal areas under 6th schedule.
Executive powers of the union extend in Scheduled areas Areas remain within executive authority of the state.
Envisages creation of Tribal Advisory Council Provides for District Councils and Regional Councils with certain legislative and judicial powers.
Consist of 20 members Consisting of 30 members
The council in 5th schedule is creation of state legislature.

The council in 6th schedule is the product of constitution itself.

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