Constitutional Provisions/ Govt. Initiatives towards Welfare of Tribals

  • 26 Nov 2021

Several provisions have been incorporated in the Constitution for safeguarding and promoting the interests and rights of the Scheduled Tribes in various spheres so as to enable them to join the national mainstream.

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Constitutional Provisions

  • Article 46 of the Constitution provides that the State shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the society and in particular, of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.
  • Article 15(4): Reservation in educational institution has been provided in Article 15(4).
  • Article 16(4), 16(4A) and 16(4B): Reservation in posts and services has been provided in Article 16(4), 16(4A) and 16(4B) of the Constitution.
  • Article 23 which prohibits traffic in human beings and beggar and other similar forms of forced labour has a special significance for Scheduled Tribes. In pursuance of this Article, Parliament has enacted the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976.
  • Article 24 which prohibits employment of Children below the age of 14 years in any factory or mine or in any other hazards activity is also significant for Scheduled Tribes.
  • Article 243D provides reservation of Seats for Scheduled Tribes in Panchayats.
  • Article 330 provides reservation of seats for Scheduled Tribes in the House of the People.
  • Article 332 provides reservation of seats for Scheduled Tribes in Legislative Assemblies of the States.
  • Article 334 provides that reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Lok Sabha and the State Vidhan Sabhas (and the representation of the Anglo-Indian Community in the Lok Sabha and the State Vidhan Sabhas by nomination) would continue up to January, 2020.
  • Article 244: Other specific safeguards have been provided in Article 244 (read) with the provisions contained in Fifth and Sixth Schedule to the Constitution.

Plans & Policies

The Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest dwellers (recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA)

  • For protecting the rights of Forest dwellers, in 2016, The Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest dwellers (recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA) was enacted.
  • FRA Act, administered by Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) recognizes rights of tribals residing in forests for generations but whose rights could not be recorded.
  • It provides for a framework for recording the forest rights so vested and the nature of evidence required for such recognition and vesting in respect of forest land.

The Panchayat (Extension of the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 (PESA)

  • It was enacted by the Centre to ensure self-governance through Gram Sabhas (village assemblies) for people living in scheduled areas.
  • PESA Act is administered by Ministry of Panchayati Raj (MoPR), Govt. of India.
  • It legally recognizes the right of tribal communities, residents of the scheduled areas, to govern themselves through their own systems of self-government, and also acknowledges their traditional rights over natural resources.
  • In pursuance of this objective, PESA empowers Gram Sabhas to play a key role in approving development plans and controlling all social sectors.

The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Dwellers (Recognition of Rights) Act

  • It was notified in December, 2020 for implementation in J&K following which capacity building Trainings were organised.
  • It was formally rolled out at Srinagar on 13th Sept, 2021 and at Jammu on 18th Sept, 2021.

Training of ST Representatives of PRI

  • The Ministry of Tribal Affairs in coordination with State TRIs have been organizing training programs for officers of State Governments responsible for implementing these acts and also for representatives of Panchayati Raj Institute to make them aware about their constitutional rights.