The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) informed the Lok Sabha that “presently, there is no proposal to implement panchayat system in Sixth Schedule areas of Assam”.
- The Sixth Schedule of the Constitution protects tribal populations and provides autonomy to the communities through the creation of autonomous development councils that can frame laws on land, public health, agriculture, and others.
- As of now, 10 autonomous councils exist in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram.
- The specified tribal areas are the North Cachar Hills, Karbi Anglong, and the Bodoland Territorial Area in Assam, Khasi Hills, Jaintiya Hills, and Garo Hills in Meghalaya, Tribal Areas in Tripura, and Chakma, Mara, and Lai districts in Mizoram.
- On January 23, 2019, the Union Cabinet approved amendments to increase the financial and executive powers of the autonomous councils.
- The Constitution (125th Amendment) Bill, 2019, was subsequently introduced in the Rajya Sabha on February 6, 2019, which provides for elected village municipal councils.
- The Bill that is still active proposes that the State Election Commissions would hold elections to the autonomous councils, village, and municipal councils.
- The Bill was introduced in the Upper House so that the legislation remains active even as the House was adjourned sine die before the 2019 general election.