After J&K's Art 370, focus on Art 371 'special' states

Article 371, just like Article 370, falls under PART XXI titled 'Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions' of the Indian Constitution. It extends to 11 states, six of them are from the Northeast, where the provisions aim to preserve tribal culture. (Getty Images)

Last week, the Parliament passed the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, 2019. The Bill bifurcates the state into the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. The government also abrogated Article 370 that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

During the debate on the abrogation of Article 370, Congress MP Manish Tewari asked, "The Indian Constitution doesn't have only Article 370. It also has Article 371 from section A to I that gives special provisions to Nagaland, Assam, Manipur, Andhra and Sikkim. So today when you are abrogating Article 370, what message are you sending to those states? What sort of Constitutional precedent are you trying to set in this country?"

Home Minister Amit Shah then asserted that the Centre had no intention of annulling Article 371. So what is Article 371 and how many states does it cover?

Article 371, just like Article 370, falls under PART XXI titled 'Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions' of the Indian Constitution. It extends to 11 states -- Maharashtra, Gujarat, Nagaland, Assam, Manipur, Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Goa and Karnataka -- and outlines the special provisions in place for them. Six are from the Northeast where the provisions aim to preserve tribal culture. 

Here's a look at the provisions:

Article 371 (Maharashtra and Gujarat) - The President may hand over special responsibility to the Governor to establish separate development boards for Vidarbha, Marathwada and the rest of Maharashtra, and Saurashtra, Kutch and the rest of Gujarat. A report of the work done by these boards is to be presented before the State Legislative Assembly every year.

Fair allocation of funds for 'developmental expenditure' as per requirements of the states as a whole and all the regions is another provision. Making arrangements to provide 'technical education and vocational training, and adequate opportunities for employment in services under the control of the State Government' is the next provision under the Article.

Article 371(A) (Nagaland): No act of Parliament shall apply to the state of Nagaland in respect of religious or social practices of the Nagas, its customary law and procedure, administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Naga customary law and ownership and transfer of land and resources. It shall apply to Nagaland only after the state Legislative Assembly passes a resolution to do so, it says.

The Article also states that land and resources in the state belong to the people and not the government.

Article 371(A) was included in the Consitution following the Constitution (Thirteenth Amendment) Act, 1962, and outlined the special provisions for the state, including the formation of a regional council that would look after the administration of the state for a period of 10 years keeping in mind the region's state of affairs.

Nagaland was formed in 1963, following a 16-point agreement between the Government of India and the leaders of the Naga People's Convention. Until then, the Naga Hills-Tuensang Area (Nagaland) fell within the state of Assam as a Part 'B' tribal area.

Article 371(B) (Assam): The President may provide for the constitution and functions of a committee of the Assam's Legislative Assembly comprising members elected from tribal areas included under part 1 of paragraph 20 of the Sixth Schedule, which comprises the North Cachar Hills District, the Karbi Anglong District and the Bodoland Territorial Areas District.

Schedule Six outlines the provisions related to the Administration of Tribal Areas in the States of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.

The Article was included in the Constitution following the Constitution (Twenty-second Amendment) Act, 1969.

Article 371(C) (Manipur): The President may provide for the constitution and functions of a committee of the Manipur Legislative assembly comprising members elected from the Hill Areas of Manipur.

It says that the Governor shall annually, or whenever required by the President, make a report regarding the administration of the Hill Areas and that the executive power of the Union shall extend to the giving of directions to the State as to the administration of those areas.

Article 371(C) was included in the Constitution following the Constitution (Twenty-seventh Amendment) Act, 1971.

Article 371(D) and Article 371(E) (Andhra Pradesh - before bifurcation): The President may provide for fair opportunities and facilities for the people belonging to different parts of the State with regard to public employment, education.

The state government was given the responsibility of organising classes of posts in civil services or posts into different local cadres for different parts of the State for the purpose. It mentions the provisions for the constitution of an Administrative Tribunal for the state to look after the task.

The provisions of the Article, which was included in the Constitution following the Constitution (Thirty-second Amendment) Act, 1973, had an overriding effect on the other provisions of the Constitution.

Article 371(E) mentions the establishment of a University in the state, provided by law by the Parliament.

Article 371(F) (Sikkim): It has provisions for the functioning of the Sikkim Legislative Assembly and its the minimum number along with the one member, elected by the legislative assembly that Sikkim would have in the Lok Sabha, among other things.

The Governor of Sikkim was also handed the special responsibility of ensuring peace and making fair arrangements to ensure the social and economic advancement of different sections of the population of the state.

The kingdom of Sikkim merged with India in 1975 and to ensure a smooth transition, this Article mentions that - neither the Supreme Court nor any other court would have jurisdiction with respect to disputes or matters arising out of any treaty, agreement, engagement or other similar instrument relating to Sikkim that the Government of India had entered into or executed before 1975 and to which the Indian Government or any of its predecessors was a party.

Provisions with respect to the laws that prevailed before the accession and the land that belonged to the Government of Sikkim are also mentioned under the Article. Following the merger, the Article was included in the Constitution following the Constitution (Thirty-sixth Amendment) Act, 1975.

Article 371(G) (Mizoram): No act of Parliament relating to religious or social practices of the Mizos, Mizo customary law and procedure, administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Mizo customary law and ownership and transfer of land will apply to Mizoram unless the state Assembly decides to do so by a resolution.

The Article was included in the Constitution following the Constitution (Fifty-third Amendment) Act, 1986.

Article 371(H) (Arunachal Pradesh): It 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 provisions surrounding the same.

The Article was included in the Constitution following the Constitution (Fifty-fifth Amendment) Act, 1986.

Article 371(I) (Goa): Unlike other states in the list, the provision mentioned for Goa only highlights the base number of members that the newly formed Goa's Legislative Assembly must have -- 30.

The Article was included in the Constitution following the Constitution (Fifty-sixth Amendment) Act, 1987.

Article 371(J) (Karnataka): The special provisions set for the erstwhile Hyderabad-Karnataka areas of the states in Karnataka comprising the districts of Gulbarga, Raichur, Bidar, Koppal, Yadgir and Bellary.

The latest addition to the list, Article 371(J) was inserted in the Constitution through the Constitution (Ninety-eighth Amendment) Act, 2012 to accelerate development in the most backward parts of the state and to reduce the inter-district and inter-regional disparities in Karnataka.

It includes a separate development board for the Hyderabad-Karnataka region, fair allocation of funds for development as per the requirements of the state, identification of a proportion of state government jobs for locals of the region (by birth or domicile) and reservation of a proportion of seats in in education and vocational training institutions in the region.

Interestingly, in June, Nagaland's Neikiesalie Nicky Kire of the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party observed that Article 371(A) was impeding the state's development.

Due to the provisions in Article 371(A), landowners do not usually allow the government to carry out development activities on their plots, he said.

(With inputs from PTI)

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