Context: Ladakh autonomous hill development council-Leh polls unlikely to occur due to ongoing border tensions.
- The new UT of Ladakh consists of two districts of Kargil and Leh
The current administration of Leh and Kargil
- The Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council-Leh was created in 1995 under the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council Act 1995, following demands of Ladakhi people to make Leh District into Union Territory because of its religious and cultural differences with the rest of Jammu and Kashmir.
- Owing to the difficult geographical problems, the need for greater public participation in the planning and development process was all the more necessary.
- An Autonomous Hill Council has also been established in neighbouring Kargil District.
- The autonomous hill councils work with village panchayats to take decisions on economic development, healthcare, education, land use, taxation, animal husbandry and local governance which are further reviewed at the block headquarters in the presence of the chief executive councillor and executive councillors.
- As per Hill Council norms, the Chief Executive Councilor possess the rank and powers of a Cabinet Minister while as the Executive Councilors possess the rank and status of Deputy Minister.
- The Deputy Commissioner is also designated as Chief Executive Officer, LAHDC Kargil and control of the overall district administration, execution of works and maintaining Law and Order.
- The council is composed of 30 Councillors of which 26 are directly elected and 4 are nominated members.
- The executive arm of the council consists of an executive committee composed of a Chief Executive Councillor and four other executive councillors.
- National Commission for Scheduled Tribes in 2019 recommended that the Union Territory of Ladakh be brought under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
- The Commission feels that this will help in:
- Democratic devolution of powers;
- Preserve and promote the distinct culture of the region.
- Protect agrarian rights including rights on land
- Enhance transfer of funds for speedy development of Ladakh region.
Administration of the Scheduled and Tribal Areas
- Article 244 in Part X of the Constitution envisages a special system of administration for certain areas designated as ‘scheduled areas’ and ‘tribal areas.’
- The 5th 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, Mizoram and Tripura.
The Sixth Schedule
- The Sixth Schedule of the Constitution consists of provisions for the administration of tribal areas in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram, according to Article 244 of the Indian Constitution.
- Passed by the Constituent Assembly in 1949, it seeks to safeguard the rights of tribal population through the formation of Autonomous District Councils (ADC).
- ADCs are bodies representing a district to which the Constitution has given varying degrees of autonomy within the state legislature.
- The Governors of these states are empowered to reorganise boundaries of the tribal areas.
- In simpler terms, she or he can choose to include or exclude any area, increase or decrease the boundaries and unite two or more autonomous districts into one.
- They can also alter or change the names of autonomous regions without a separate legislation.
Autonomous districts and regional councils
- Along with ADCs, the Sixth Schedule also provides for separate Regional Councils for each area constituted as an autonomous region.
- In all, there are 10 areas in the Northeast that are registered as autonomous districts – three in Assam, Meghalaya and Mizoram and one in Tripura.
- These regions are named as district council of (name of district) and regional council of (name of region).
- Each autonomous district and regional council consistsof not more than 30 members, of which four are nominated by the governor and the rest via elections. All of them remain in power for a term of five years.
- The Bodoland Territorial Council, however, is an exception as it can constitute up to 46 members.
ADCs empowered with civil and judicial powers
- The ADCs are empowered with civil and judicial powers, can constitute village courts within their jurisdiction to hear trial of cases involving the tribes.
- Governors of states that fall under the Sixth Schedule specifies the jurisdiction of high courts for each of these cases.
- The councils are also empowered to make legislative laws on matters like land, forests, fisheries, social security, entertainment, public health, etc. with due approval from the governor.
- The roles of the central and state governments are restricted from the territorial jurisdiction of these autonomous regions.
- Also, Acts passed by Parliament and state legislatures may or may not be levied in these regions unless the President and the Governor gives her or his approval, with or without modifications in the laws for the autonomous regions.