Discuss the implications of extending Article 371-like protections to the Union Territory of Ladakh. How would it differ from inclusion under the Sixth Schedule in terms of autonomy and governance?

Why?

Union Home Minister Amit Shah stated that the government is prepared to extend Article 371-like protections, but will not include Ladakh in the Sixth Schedule. Union Home Minister Amit Shah stated that the government is prepared to extend Article 371-like protections, but will not include Ladakh in the Sixth Schedule.

Approach:

  • Introduce your answer with the role of Article 371 and the Sixth Schedule in the Constitution.
  • In the main body, discuss how Article 371-like protections could safeguard Ladakh’s heritage, land, and provide autonomy, referencing specific Articles for examples. Next present the comparison of protections under Article 371 and Sixth Schedule – legislative authority, governance, land rights, cultural preservation, economic development, social justice, etc.
  • Conclude with the balanced approach of extending Article 371-like protections to Ladakh, ensuring regional aspirations are met while maintaining national unity.

Answer:

Article 371 of the Indian Constitution provides special provisions to various states, enabling them to maintain their unique cultural identity, land rights, and governance structures while integrating with the Indian Union. These provisions ensure regional aspirations are addressed, promoting equitable development and social harmony.

The Sixth Schedule relates to the administration of tribal areas in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram, offering considerable autonomy. It allows for the formation of Autonomous District Councils (ADCs) and Regional Councils (ARCs), granting them legislative powers on various subjects including land, forest management, and the administration of justice within their territories.

Implications of Extending Article 371-like Protections to Ladakh:

  • Cultural Safeguards: Preserves Ladakh’s unique Buddhist and Muslim heritage, ensuring that central laws potentially affecting its cultural and social fabric require consent from a local governing body.
    • Article 371A and 371G, for Nagaland and Mizoram respectively, restrict the application of national laws on certain matters without state assembly’s approval.
  • Land Protection: Prevents alienation of land to non-natives, akin to the provisions in Article 371G for Mizoram, safeguarding local interests.
  • Administrative Autonomy: could empower Ladakh to have a greater say, particularly in education and public employment, tailoring policies to local needs.
    • Article 371D empowers the President to ensure equitable public employment and education opportunities in Andhra Pradesh.
  • Socio-Economic Development: by securing constitutional provisions for focused development, and ensuring targeted investment in infrastructure, healthcare, and education.
    • Article 371J, allows for the establishment of a separate development board for the Hyderabad-Karnataka region, ensuring sufficient funds are allocated for its development.
  • Local Employment: can be ensured by significant reservation in government and perhaps even private jobs for local residents.
    • Article 371F grants Sikkim specific protections and rights, indirectly securing local employment opportunities.
  • Governance Model: Ladakh would remain a UT with specific autonomy, drawing parallels with the administrative setups provided to other regions under Article 371 variants.
  • Environmental Conservation: Special provisions could emphasize ecological preservation for its unique geographical areas in mountainous terrain.

Comparison with the Sixth Schedule:

The Sixth Schedule provides a framework for greater autonomy in governance and legislative authority to ADCs and ARCs, allowing them extensive control over their affairs, unlike the more tailored and specific provisions under Article 371.

Differences in Autonomy and Governance:

Aspect Article 371-like Protections Sixth Schedule
Legislative Authority Limited to specific areas defined by the Union Comprehensive legislative powers over a wide range of subjects
Governance Direct Union oversight with certain autonomies Significant autonomy with self-governance through ADCs/ARCs
Land Rights Specific protections against alienation Broad authority over land use and management
Cultural Preservation Safeguards cultural practices and identities Powers to legislate on cultural and social practices
Economic Development Focused development initiatives Wide-ranging powers for economic management and development
Social Justice Provisions for local employment and education Autonomy in addressing social justice issues within communities
Environmental Policy Potential for tailored conservation measures Authority to enact and enforce environmental regulations

 

Extending Article 371-like protections to Ladakh offers a balanced approach to integrating regional aspirations with national governance structures. Though it does not offer the extensive autonomy as seen under the Sixth Schedule, it ensures Ladakh’s unique environmental, cultural, and strategic concerns are addressed within the framework of Indian unity.

‘+1’ value addition:

  • The Union government would ensure representation and participation of locals through hill councils and is willing to provide up to 80% reservation in public employment.
  • If special provisions are introduced for Ladakh, it would be the first time they are introduced for a Union Territory as opposed to a state.
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