- The demand for an autonomous state within Assam has been raised by some of the sections of the society in Assam under the provisions of Article 244A of the Constitution.
- Important points:
- In the 1950s, a demand for a separate hill state arose around certain sections of the tribal population of undivided Assam.
- After prolonged agitations, Meghalaya gained statehood in 1972.
- The leaders of the Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills were also part of this movement. They were given the option to stay in Assam or join Meghalaya.
- They stayed back as the centre promised them more powers, including Article 244 (A).
- In the 1980s, the demand for more power/autonomy took the form of a movement with a number of Karbi groups resorting to violence.
- It soon became an armed separatist insurgency demanding full statehood.
- Article 244(A) allows for creation of an ‘autonomous state’ within Assam in certain tribal areas.
- It also envisages creation of a local legislature or Council of Ministers or both to carry out local administration.
- It was Inserted into the Constitution by the Twenty-second Constitution Amendment Act, 1969.
- Article 244(A) accounts for more autonomous powers to tribal areas than the Sixth Schedule. Among these the most important power is the control over law and order.
- In Autonomous Councils under the Sixth Schedule, they do not have jurisdiction of law and order.
- The Sixth Schedule of the Constitution provides for the administration of tribal areas in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram to safeguard the rights of the tribal population in these states.
- This special provision is provided under Article 244 (2) and Article 275 (1) of the Constitution.
- In Assam, the hill districts of Dima Hasao, Karbi Anglong and West Karbi and the Bodo Territorial Region are under this provision.
- The Governor is empowered to increase or decrease the areas or change the names of the autonomous districts. While executive powers of the Union extend in Scheduled areas with respect to their administration in fifth schedule, the sixth schedule areas remain within executive authority of the state.
- The 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.
- The whole of the normal administrative machinery operating in a state do not extend to the scheduled areas.
- At present, 10 States namely Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan and Telangana have Fifth Schedule Area.
- Tribal habitations in the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir have not been brought under the Fifth or Sixth Schedule.
- The acts of Parliament or the state legislature do not apply to autonomous districts and autonomous regions or apply with specified modifications and exceptions.
- The Councils have also been endowed with wide civil and criminal judicial powers, for example establishing village courts etc. However, the jurisdiction of these councils is subject to the jurisdiction of the concerned High Court.
SOURCE: THE HINDU,THE ECONOMIC TIMES,MINT