CHENNAI: Madras High Court has turned down a tribal association’s plea to direct the State government to declare ‘Scheduled Areas’ in the State as mandated by the Fifth Schedule (administration and control of scheduled areas and scheduled tribes) of the Constitution.
Under the schedule, a State government may declare tribal-concentrated pockets as scheduled areas. If declared, the Governor has special powers and responsibilities to make regulation for peace and good governance of such areas, particularly on land allotment and transfer from tribals to non-tribals and regulate money lending by non-tribals.
Relying on the provision, Tamil Nadu Scheduled Tribe (Malayali) Peravai sought a direction to the director of Adi-Dravidar and Tribal Welfare department to submit a detailed report to the State government for implementation of the Fifth Schedule, including declaration of scheduled areas.
More specifically, the association said, Pachamalai hills, spread across the districts of Salem, Tiruchy and Perambalur with a sizable scheduled tribe population, could be brought under a single district administration and a separate block be declared for the scheduled tribe.
Responding to the petition, the Adi-Dravidar and Tribal Welfare department submitted a letter issued by the Union government dated April 8, 2011 addressed to the general secretary of the outfit, stating that Tamil Nadu government had informed that there are no scheduled areas, as scheduled tribes population is only 1.04 per cent and they reside in scattered areas.
“However, the areas where the ST population is more than 50 per cent, they are declared as Integrated Tribal Development Projects (ITDP) areas. The State government has adopted Tribal Sub Plan (TSP) concept to improve the socioeconomic conditions of ST since 1975-77,” the letter read.Concurring with the department’s submissions, the first bench of Chief Justice SK Kaul and TS Sivagnanam said, “We find the nature of relief as prayed for could not be admissible. In matters of this nature, the court could have at best asked the authorities concerned to examine the matter, but the examination has already taken place.”