Constitution of India is granting some special provision for some states of the Indian union. As Part – XXI of the Constitution of India provides Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions in which Article 371 provide special provisions for some states. The main objective behind providing these special provisions to meet the unique needs of the backward regions of these states, protect the economic and cultural interest of these regions, combat the local challenges and protect the customary laws in these regions.
Special status is guaranteed by the Constitution of India through an Act passed by the two-third majority in both houses of the Parliament. Special Status empowers legislative and political rights. Special Status provides a wide range of specific safeguards that are deemed important for the states.
Article 371 have been a part of the Constitution since January 26, 1950, Articles 371(A-J) were incorporated through amendments under Article 368, which lays down the power of the Parliament to amend the Constitution and procedure therefor.
The union government has revoked the ‘special status’ granted to Jammu and Kashmir by the Constitution. However, a range of “special provisions” for other states continue to be part of the Constitution under Article 371(A-J).
States that have special provisions under Article 371, 371(A-J):
- Article 371 – Provision for Gujarat and Maharashtra
Article 371 gives special responsibility to the governor to establish “Separate Development Boards” for “Vidarbha, Marathwada, and the rest of Maharashtra”, and Saurashtra and Kutch in Gujarat.
This was done to ensure “equitable allocation of funds for developmental expenditure over the said areas”, and “equitable arrangement providing adequate facilities for technical education and vocational training, and adequate opportunities for employment” under the state government.
- Article 371(A) – Provision for Nagaland (13th Amendment Act, 1962)
This Article provides that Parliament cannot legislate in matters of Naga religion or social practices, the Naga customary law and procedure, administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to the Naga customary law. Parliament also cannot intervene in ownership and transfer of land and its resources, without the concurrence of the Legislative Assembly of the state.
This provision was inserted in the Constitution after a 16-point agreement between the Centre and the Naga People’s Convention in 1960, which led to the creation of Nagaland in 1963.
Also, there is a provision for a 35-member Regional Council for Tuensang district, which elects the Tuensang members in the Assembly. A member from the Tuensang district is Minister for Tuensang Affairs. The Governor has the final say on all Tuensang-related matters.
- Article 371(B) – Provision for Assam (22nd Amendment Act, 1969)
Quite like Nagaland, The President of India may provide for the constitution and functions of a committee of the state Legislative Assembly consisting of members elected from the tribal areas of the state.
- Article 371 (C) – Provision for Manipur ( 27th Amendment Act, 1971)
The special provision under Article 371C in the case of Manipur is similar to 371B for Assam. This Article provides that The President of India may provide for the constitution and functions of a committee of elected members from the Hill areas of the state in the Assembly, and entrust “special responsibility” to the Governor to ensure its proper functioning. The Governor has to file a report every year on this subject to the President.
- Article 371(D), Article 371 (E) – Provision for Andhra Pradesh and Telangana (32nd Amendment Act, 1973; substituted by The Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014)
Article 371D, provides equitable opportunities and facilities for the people of the state and safeguards their rights in matters of employment and education. The state government may organize civil posts or direct recruitment to posts in local cadre as required. It mentions the provisions for the constitution of an Administrative Tribunal for the state to look after the task outside the jurisdiction of the High Court to deal with issues of appointment, allotment or promotion in state civil services.
Article 371E allows for the establishment of a university in Andhra Pradesh by a law of Parliament. But this is not really a ‘special provision’ in the sense of the other provisions in this part of the Constitution.
- Article 371 (F) Provision for Sikkim ( 36th Amendment Act, 1975)
Article 371 (F) has the provisions for the functioning of the Sikkim Legislative Assembly. 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. The Governor shall have “special responsibility for peace and for an equitable arrangement for ensuring the social and economic advancement of different sections of the population”. It also states that any existing laws in Sikkim during its formation shall continue, and any adaptation or modification shall not be questioned in any court.
- Article 371 (G) Provision for Mizoram (53rd Amendment Act, 1986)
Article 371(G) says that The Legislative Assembly of the state of Mizoram must consist of not less than 40 members. In addition to this, 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 unless the Legislative
Assembly… by a resolution so decides.
- Article 371(H) Provision for Arunachal Pradesh (55th Amendment Act, 1986)
Article 371(H) includes the Governor’s special responsibility with respect to law and order in the State of Arunachal Pradesh where ‘the Governor shall, after consulting the Council of Ministers, exercise his individual judgment as to the action to be taken and the provision surrounding the same. However, if a matter arises where the Governor is required to act in the exercise of his individual judgment, then it should be considered as final and “shall not be called in question.”
- Article 371 (I) Provision for Goa
Article 371 (I) states that The Legislative Assembly of the state of Goa must consist of not less than 30 members. But it does not include any provision that can be deemed ‘special’.
- Article 371 (J) Provision for Karnataka (98th Amendment Act, 2012)
Article 371 (J) 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).
Every year, a report regarding the working of this board will be presented before the State Legislative Assembly. Equitable funds must be allotted for developing these regions. There will be reservation of seats for the education and vocational training of the students from this region besides reservation in the jobs with state government for persons hailing from this region.
All these provisions take into account the special circumstances of individual states, and lay down a wide range of specific safeguards that are deemed important for these states.
Article 371I, which deals with Goa, stands out in the sense that it does not include any provision that can be deemed “special”. Article 371D and 371 E, which deals with Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, too, is not that “special”.
Reasons for incorporation of Article 371
The intention of granting special status under Article 371 is to preserve the religious and social practices of these states, to protect the cultural and economic interests of these regions and safeguard the region’s culture, language, and ethnic diversity. Article 371 is incorporated mainly to meet the unique needs of the backward regions of these states, to combat the local challenges and protect the customary laws and procedure in these regions and to deal with the disturbed law and order in some parts. Also one of the reasons of incorporation was to provide equal opportunities and facilities in the educational and employment field to the people belonging to the state.
It can be concluded that these provisions are inalienable as these provisions individually take into account a wide range of specific safeguards and preserve the tribal culture. These provisions are essential in order to provide the constitutional remedies for various socio-economic challenges. Therefore, protection of the privileges under these provisions becomes very important for the states. All these provisions cater the needs of special circumstances that exist in those areas and help in promoting peace and harmony.
(Author: Rajat Kumar, pursuing B.Com LLB from Rayat Bahra University, Mohali.)