A Private Member’s Bill, introduced in the Lok Sabha by Shillong Congress MP Vincent H Pala in 2015, was withdrawn on Friday after Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju assured Pala that a Cabinet note has been prepared to strengthen autonomous councils in the Northeast.
Going through the objectives of Pala’s Bill, Rijiju said the Private Member’s Bill was discussed for the longest time ever in the House.
He said that “there is good news” that the government “has prepared a cabinet note” and will soon “bring a Bill in the House”. In the Bill, titled the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2015 (Amendment of Sixth Schedule), Pala had stated that “despite various provisions protecting the customary lives of the tribes under the Sixth Schedule, the Schedule had remained only on paper”.
Going through the objectives of the amendment, Rijiju said that he can categorise them into three parts: The demand to increase the number of members in the District Council from 30 to 40, as originally envisaged in the Constitution of India; to bring traditional occupation of tribals relating to mines and minerals under the legislative competence of the District Council; and to protect the customary practices and interests of tribals.
Without sharing too many details about the Cabinet note, Rijiju said elections to these councils will be conducted by state election authorities, giving them a constitutional stature.