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What is 6th Schedule? Know about the Constitution & the North East.

Updated: Feb 6

If you had visited North east India you must have heard the term 'Inner line permit' that is the ILP which is required if you have to enter some areas of the North east. Do you know that North East India is ruled by 6th schedule as well as different Articles such as Article 371 applies to some states. Also full constitution does not applies to the Northeastern states, it applies with exceptions just was a case with Jammu and Kashmir earlier before the Article 370 was removed on 5th August 2019. There have been huge protest going on in Ladakh over the demand of statehood and 6th schedule in the region. Let's try and understand in most crisp and short way about it.

(Image credit : Unknown from internet)

Bengal Eastern Frontier regulation Act of 1873 was introduces for the North East by the British. The BEFR prohibits an outsider's, “British subject or foreign citizen” entry into the area beyond the Inner Line without a pass and his purchase of land there. These areas cover the today's Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland and Manipur was last and recently added.

The North east is also governed by 6th schedule (Image source- Ministry of External affairs website) of the constitution through which some areas are marked and the people residing in these are given the autonomy within the jurisdiction of their marked territory to follow their own laws and customs and the constitution applies only after the prior approval of the Governor of the state under which that area comes.

So, as you can see the image, if 6th Schedule is brought into Ladakh, theses provisions will come into effect. However, there is another provision such as the 5th Schedule which are applicable to tribal areas in rest part of the country apart from North East that gives special rights to the tribals, with majority of them in central India.

In September 2019, the National Commission for Scheduled Tribe recommended the inclusion of Ladakh under the 6th Schedule noting that new UT was predominantly tribal (more than 97%) and its distinct cultural heritage needs preservation.

The Provisions for North - East.

There are about 12 Autonomous district councils in North East spread in Meghalaya, Assam, Tripura and Mizoram.

Article 371 gives special rights to some of states with different powers such as :

Article 371 (a) - These provisions are applicable to the state of Nagaland if the assembly of the state so decide to implement. These provisions are related to the social and customary practices that is their personal conduct and way of living. Idea is to not get into their way of living and personal laws and give autonomy. Example: They can transfer land in the way they decide rather then as per Indian laws.

Article 371 (b) - Applicable to Assam, where the President can form the committee from the legislative assembly and the tribal areas. These provisions come in with 6th schedule as explained above. Similar provision exist in 371 (c) for Manipur as well.

Article 371 (f) applies to Sikkim, the strength of its assembly (minimum 30) and other clauses mentioning the functioning of the assembly of the state.

Article 371 (g) for Mizoram where the laws of constitution related to social practices, ownership and disputes are regulated by them as per their discretion and not the constitution of India.

Article 371 (h) applies to Arunachal Pradesh giving certain powers to the governor regarding the regulation and the disputes.

So as you see certain tribal areas of the North East India and the people residing outside the protected zone within that state are differently governed. they have their own norms and their own way of conduct. The reason the government does this is to accommodate them and peaceful coexistence of these groups with in India as almost all of these tribal areas and hilly areas have the history of rebellions and violence in the past due to the exploitation of the British for longer time and this years of land snatching and killings have turned some of these groups in violent gangs. Currently the government of India, since independence only is working to accommodate their demands and the genuine ones are usually met quickly. As you must have heard about Kuki disputes between Mizoram and Tripura, then land disputes between Assam and Mizoram etc. then the Nagaland Mon killings which just recently occurred, all stems because of outside interference and historical exploitations.

It is important to respect their way of living as they prefer and also it helps out the government as well to keep a check on the militancy and refugees coming from the neighboring Myanmar, Bangladesh, Bhutan and China.

There are other provisions as well, we have discussed only few and major ones.

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