Constitution (125th Am) Bill, 2019
● The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) informed the Lok Sabha that “presently, there is no proposal to implement Panchayat system in Sixth Schedule areas of Assam”. The Sixth Schedule relates to the administration of tribal areas in the states of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.
● In February 2019, the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Fifth Amendment) Bill, 2019 was introduced in Rajya Sabha. The bill amends provisions related to the Finance Commission and the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
What are the objectives and important provisions of The Constitution (125th Amendment) Bill, 2019?
Key Provisions of the bill:
● Village and municipal councils: The proposed amendments provide for elected Village and Municipal Councils,ensuring democracy at the grassroots level.
➢ The village councils will be empowered to prepare plans for economic development and social justice including those related to agriculture, land improvement, implementation of land reforms, minor irrigation, water management, animal husbandry, rural electrification, small scale industries and social forestry.
● Finance Commission: The Bill states that the Finance Commission will make recommendations on measures to augment the Consolidated Fund of a state to provide resources to District Councils, Village Councils, and Municipal Councils in tribal areas in the four Sixth Schedule states.
● State Finance Commission: The Bill provides the appointment of a Finance Commission for these states,to review the financial position of District, Village, and Municipal Councils.
● Elections to councils: The Bill states that all elections to the District Councils, Regional Councils, Village Councils, and Municipal Councils will be conducted by the State Election Commission appointed by the Governor, for these four states.
● Disqualification of members of councils: The Sixth Schedule provides that the Governor may make rules for the constitution of District and Regional Councils, including qualifications for being elected as members of these councils. The Bill adds that the Governor may make rules for the disqualification of such members on the grounds of defection.
Administration of Tribal Areas:
● The Sixth Schedule of the Constitution grants special provisions for the administration of the tribal areas in Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura. It provides for autonomous districts and autonomous regions.
● The Governor could increase, decrease, reorganize or alter the boundary of these districts.
● If there are many scheduled tribes in an autonomous district, the Governor can divide the area or areas populated by them into autonomous regions.
● An Act of parliament or of the state legislature does not apply to autonomous districtsand autonomous regions or apply with particular exceptions and modifications.
To fulfil the Gandhian vision of Gram-Swaraj and impart practical shape to Article 40 of the Directive Principle of State Policy, it is important that Panchayati Raj Institutions are formed in every relevant territory.