Related Topics: Indian Polity, Special Category Status
Union Home Minister has assured the North-Eastern States that the Centre would never touch Article 371 of the Constitution that grants special provisions to the region.
About Article 371
- Article 371 of the Indian Constitution is connected to granting special provisions for some states of the Indian Union.
- As part of XXI and XXII of the Constitution of India, Article 371 grants some temporary, transition and special provisions to some states in the country.
- Ranging from Article 371 to Article 371-J, this Article gives special provisions for the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Nagaland, Assam, Manipur, Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Goa and Karnataka.
- The main objectives behind the Article 371 granting special provisions to some states are to meet the unique needs of the backward regions of these states, protect the economic and cultural interests of these regions, combat the local challenges and protect the customary laws in these regions.
Article 371 – Maharashtra and Gujarat
Governors of the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat are given special responsibilities to set up development boards in regions such as Vidarbha, Marathwada, Kutchh etc.
Article 371A – Nagaland
- It states that no act of Parliament would apply to the state of Nagaland in matter relating to religious or social practices of Nagas, Naga customary law and procedure, administration of civil or criminal justice involving decisions according to Naga customary law and ownership and transfer of land and its resources.
- The Legislative Assembly of Nagaland must pass a resolution for an act to be applicable to the state.
- The governor is given special responsibilities with respect to law and order in the state as well.
Article 371B – Assam
The President may provide for the Constitution and functions of a committee of Legislative Assembly of the state consisting of members elected from the tribal areas of Assam.
Article 371C – Manipur
- The President may provide for the Constitution and functions of a committee of Legislative Assembly of the state, but consisting of members elected from the hill areas of Manipur.
- The Governor must submit an annual report to the president regarding the administration of hill areas.
Article 371D (32nd Amendment Act, 1973; substituted by The Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014), Andhra Pradesh and Telangana:
- President must ensure “equitable opportunities and facilities” in “public employment and education to people from different parts of the state”.
- He may require the state government to organise civil posts or direct recruitment to posts in local cadre as required.
It states that Parliament may by law provide for the establishment of a University in Andhra Pradesh.
Article 371F – Sikkim
- It states that the Legislative Assembly shall consist of not less than 30 members.
- In order to protect the rights and interests of the different sections of the population in the state of Sikkim, seats in the assembly are provided to people of these different sections.
Article 371G – Mizoram
- The Legislative Assembly of the state of Mizoram must consist of not less than 40 members.
- In addition, following the same provisions as Nagaland, an act of Parliament would not apply to Mizoram in matters relating to religious or social practices of Mizo, Mizo customary law and procedure, administration of civil or criminal justice involving decisions according to Mizo customary law, ownership and transfer of land and its resources.
Article 371H – Arunachal Pradesh
- The Legislative Assembly of the state of Mizoram must consist of not less than 30 members.
- The governor will have special responsibility with respect to law and order in the state.
Article 371I – Goa
- The Legislative Assembly of the state of Goa must consist of not less than 30 members.
- It does not include any provision that can be deemed ‘special’.
- It grants special status to six backward districts of Hyderabad-Karnataka region.
- The special provision requires that a separate development board be established for these regions (similar to Maharashtra and Gujarat) and also ensures local reservation in education and government jobs.
Concerns of North Eastern States
- While Article 370, which limited purchase and inheritance of property to permanent residents, was abrogated for J&K, similar provisions are also provided under Article 371 in many north eastern states.
- Article 371A prohibits anyone who is not a resident from buying land in Nagaland, which may only be bought by tribals who are residents of the state.
- Article 371F bestowed on Government of Sikkim, the right of ownership of all land in the state, even if it was owned by private individuals prior to the state’s merger with India.
- Article 371F states that “neither the Supreme Court nor any other court shall have jurisdiction in respect of any dispute or other matter arising out of any treaty, agreement, engagement or other similar instrument relating to Sikkim”, however, a specific condition allows the President to step in if the need arises related to constitutional law.
- Article 371G is similar to Article 371A, as it limits the ownership of land to Mizoram’s tribals except for setting up of industries by the private sector, land can now be acquired by the state government as per the provisions of Mizoram (Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement) Act, 2016.
- Both Article 371A and Article 371G limit the Parliament’s authority to enact any law that interferes with tribal religious laws, customs, including their justice system.