A tribal council in Meghalaya has called for a meeting of traditional heads to revisit the Instrument of Accession, that made the Khasi domain a part of the Indian Union seven decades ago.
- Meghalaya is divided into three regions dominated by as many matrilineal communities — the Khasis, Garos and Jaintias. The Khasi hills straddle 25 Himas or States that formed the Federation of Khasi States.
- Titosstarwell Chyne, the chief executive member of the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) agreed that the Instrument of Accession and Annexed Agreement signed with the Dominion of India between December 15, 1947 and March 19, 1948, should be studied.
- The treaty was signed by Governor General of India, Chakravarti Rajagopalachari, on August 17, 1948.
About the ‘Sixth Schedule’ –
- The Sixth Schedule under Article 244 provides for the formation of autonomous administrative divisions — Autonomous District Councils (ADCs) — that have some legislative, judicial, and administrative autonomy within a state.
- ADCs have up to 30 members with a term of five years, and can make laws, rules and regulations with regard to land, forest, water, agriculture, village councils, health, sanitation, village– and town-level policing, inheritance, marriage and divorce, social customs and mining, etc.
- The Bodoland Territorial Council in Assam is an exception with more than 40 members and the right to make laws on 39 issues.
- The Sixth Schedule applies to the Northeastern states of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram (three Councils each), and Tripura (one Council).
Administration of Tribal Areas –
The Constitution, under Sixth Schedule, contains special provisions for the administration of tribal areas in the four north-eastern states of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram. The various features of administration contained in the Sixth Schedule are as follows:
- The tribal areas in the four states of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram have been constituted as autonomous districts. But, they do not fall outside the executive authority of the state concerned.
- The Governor is empowered to organise and re-organise the autonomous districts. Thus, he can increase or decrease their areas or change their names or define their boundaries and so on.
- If there are different tribes in an autonomous district, the governor can divide the district into several autonomous regions.
- Each autonomous district has a district council consisting of 30 members, of whom four are nominated by the governor and the remaining 26 are elected on the basis of adult franchise. The elected members hold office for a term of five years (unless the council is dissolved earlier) and nominated members hold office during the pleasure of the governor. Each autonomous region also has a separate regional council.
- The district and regional councils administer the areas under their jurisdiction. They can make laws on certain specified matters like land, forests, canal water, shifting cultivation, village administration, inheritance of property, marriage and divorce, social customs and so on. But all such laws require the assent of the Governor.
- The district and regional councils within their territorial jurisdictions can constitute village councils or courts for trial of suits and cases between the tribes. They hear appeals from them. The jurisdiction of high court over these suits and cases is specified by the Governor.
- The district council can establish, construct or manage primary schools, dispensaries, markets, ferries, fisheries, roads and so on in the district. It can also make regulations for the control of money lending and trading by non-tribals. But, such regulations require the assent of the governor.
- The district and regional councils are empowered to assess and collect land revenue and to impose certain specified taxes.
- 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 Governor can appoint a commission to examine and report on any matter relating to the administration of the autonomous districts or regions. He may dissolve a district or regional council on the recommendation of the commission.