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Ladakh’s Demand of Sixth Schedule |

Ladakh’s Demand of Sixth Schedule

Context

∙ Recently, the Union Government has agreed to examine whether the provisions of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution can be implemented in Ladakh’s context.

Background– The demand for inclusion in the Sixth Schedule came into prominence after Ladakh was carved out as a separate Union Territory from the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir in August 2019.The move led to concerns among locals about potential loss of identity, resources, and bureaucratic overreach.
Key Demands– These include statehood for Ladakh, safeguards under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, job reservation for the youth of Ladakh, and the creation of separate Parliamentary constituencies for the two parts of the region — Leh and Kargil.
Issues faced by Ladakh– No decentralization of power: There had been four MLAs from the region in the erstwhile J&K Assembly; the administration of the region is now completely in the hands of bureaucrats.A. To many in Ladakh, the government now looks even more distant than Srinagar.– Changed domicile policy in Jammu and Kashmir: It raised fears in the region about its own land, employment, demography, and cultural identity.– Limited Finances: The UT has two Hill councils in Leh and Kargil, but neither is under the Sixth Schedule. Their powers are limited to collection of some local taxes such as parking fees and allotment and use of land vested by the Centre.

The Sixth Schedule

∙ It comes under Article 244 that provides for the formation of Autonomous Administrative Divisions — Autonomous District Councils (ADCs) — that have some legislative, judicial, and administrative autonomy within a state.

∙ It applies to the Northeastern states of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram (three Councils each), and Tripura (one Council).

Significances of the Sixth Schedule in Indian Constitution

∙ Autonomy to Tribal Populations: It protects the autonomy of tribal populations through the creation of autonomous development councils.

∙ These councils can frame laws on land, public health, and agriculture.

∙ Administration of Tribal Areas: It provides for the administration of tribal areas in the states of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram.

∙ As of now, ten autonomous councils exist in these states.

∙ Protection of Tribal Rights: It is intended to protect tribal populations from exploitation and preserve their unique cultural and social practices.

∙ It ensures that tribal communities have a say in their governance and development.

∙ Safeguarding Resources: The autonomous councils under the Sixth Schedule have the power to regulate the issuance of licences for mining, control money lending to tribes, and regulate business and commerce in the areas.

Other Recommendations

∙ National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST): In September 2019, the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes recommended the inclusion of Ladakh under the Sixth Schedule.

∙ The Commission took note of the fact that the newly created Union Territory of Ladakh is predominantly a tribal region in the country.

∙ Report highlights of the Parliamentary Standing Committee: The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs recently tabled a report in the Rajya Sabha.

∙ The report stated that, according to the 2011 Census, the tribal population in the Union Territory of Ladakh is 2,18,355, that is 79.61% of the total population of 2,74,289.

∙ Special Status: The committee recommended that special status may be granted to the Union Territory of Ladakh considering the developmental requirements of the tribal population.

Conclusion

∙ The Sixth Schedule is a crucial constitutional provision that recognizes the unique cultural, social, and economic needs of tribal populations and provides a framework for self-governance.

∙ It holds significant importance as it provides for the administration of tribal areas, thereby protecting the autonomy of tribal populations.

∙ It protects tribal populations, allowing for the creation of autonomous development councils which can frame laws on land, public health, agriculture.

∙ The demand for inclusion in the Sixth Schedule reflects the aspirations of the people of Ladakh for greater autonomy and preservation of their unique cultural identity.

∙ The government’s response to these demands will have significant implications for the future of Ladakh and its people.

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