5th Schedule of Indian Constitution – Features, Significance, Drawbacks
Inputs from Indian Polity Mindmaps
Fifth Schedule of the Indian Constitution is focused on the administration and control of Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes. It is divided into four parts:
Part A discusses general provisions:
- Interpretation: The term “State” excludes Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram.
- Executive power of a State in Scheduled Areas: The executive power of a State extends to the Scheduled Areas within its jurisdiction.
- Report by the Governor to the President: The Governor of each State with Scheduled Areas is required to submit an annual report, or whenever required, to the President regarding the administration of these areas. The executive power of the Union extends to giving directions for the administration of Scheduled Areas.
Part B deals with the administration and control of Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes:
- Tribes Advisory Council: A Tribes Advisory Council is to be established in each State with Scheduled Areas. It consists of up to 20 members, with three-fourths being representatives of Scheduled Tribes in the Legislative Assembly. The Council advises on matters related to the welfare and advancement of Scheduled Tribes. The Governor may make rules for the Council’s functioning and incidental matters.
- Law applicable to Scheduled Areas: The Governor may direct the applicability of particular Acts to Scheduled Areas. The Governor may also make regulations for peace and good government, which may include prohibiting or restricting land transfer, regulating land allotment, or regulating money-lending business. Regulations require the President’s assent and consultation with the Tribes Advisory Council.
Part C defines Scheduled Areas:
- Scheduled Areas: These areas are defined as those declared by the President. The President may alter, cease, increase or redefine Scheduled Areas through an order.
Part D concerns the amendment of the Schedule:
- Amendment of the Schedule: Parliament may amend the Schedule, but such amendments are not considered as amendments of the Constitution for the purposes of Article 368.
The Fifth Schedule is crucial for the following reasons:
- It recognizes the distinct socio-economic, cultural, and administrative requirements of Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes.
- It empowers the Governor to make decisions on the applicability of laws, providing a degree of autonomy and ensuring that the unique needs of these areas are addressed.
- The establishment of Tribes Advisory Councils facilitates a participatory approach to governance, enabling the voices of Scheduled Tribes to be heard and considered in decision-making processes.
- The Fifth Schedule helps preserve the culture, heritage, and identity of Scheduled Tribes by providing measures to regulate land transfer and allotment and to control money-lending practices.
Despite its significance, the Fifth Schedule has faced certain challenges and drawbacks:
- The implementation of laws and regulations in Scheduled Areas has often been inconsistent and ineffective, leading to a lack of uniformity in governance and protection of Scheduled Tribes’ rights.
- The Tribes Advisory Councils’ limited advisory role does not guarantee the implementation of their recommendations, affecting the overall effectiveness of the Councils.
- The lack of adequate financial and administrative support for the Tribes Advisory Councils hinders their ability to fulfill their responsibilities effectively.
- The power given to the Governor to decide on the applicability of laws may lead to delays and inconsistencies, as these decisions can be influenced by political considerations.
To overcome these drawbacks, it is essential to ensure effective implementation of the provisions of the Fifth Schedule, provide adequate support to the Tribes Advisory Councils, and promote a more participatory approach to governance for Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes.