Tuesday, January 6, 2015

governor has been sidelined in the administering of tribal areas

The institution of the governor has been sidelined in the administering of tribal areas despite clear constitutional guidelines to the contrary. In the light of some of recent related events, critically comment on the statement. 

The Constitution of India, through Article 244, has mandated the Governor of a State with wide-ranging powers for the administration of tribal areas under the Fifth and Sixth Schedule. The governors of the 9 states which contain Scheduled Areas, are required to make an annual report to the President regarding the administration of the Scheduled Areas of his respective state, on whose basis the Union can direct the state to execute developmental measures for such areas.
However, the feasibility of this arrangement has been questioned by the people, mainly due to the fact that the office of a governor is not an elected one and hence, he is not responsible for the well-being of the people in the Scheduled Areas. That they are widely considered as agents of the political party which occupies the Centre, further erodes their accountability.
Few recent events, such as the inaction of AP’s governor against bauxite mining in tribal areas, and that of Orissa’s governor against the setting up of a steel-unit by POSCO in Orissa and of bauxite mining in Niyamgiri, and the petition against the ceding of administrative power by the governor to the CM of Chhattisgarh in Munshi vs State of Chhattisgarh are cases in point.
The need of the hour is to sensitize State governors towards the requirements of the scheduled tribes and ensure that their appointments and later decisions are not based on political considerations. Involving the TACs of the Scheduled areas in the governor’ appointment can be an option. Also, the governor should be appointed to head the TACs instead of the State CM to ensure greater accountability from them.

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