SC dismisses petition challenging functioning of Tribal advisory council in Chhattisgarh

Governors are not exercising their powers as they want to avoid any confrontation with chief ministers who also head these councils, alleged petition

 
By Jitendra
Last Updated: Monday 17 August 2015

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The Supreme Court last week dismissed the special leave petition (SLP) that challenged the allegedly constitutional functioning of the Chhattisgarh Tribes Advisory Councils (TACs) in scheduled areas. Earlier, in March last year, the Chhattisgarh high court had dismissed a public interest petition, filed by Chhattisgarh-based tribal rights activist B K Manish. The SLP was then filed in SC against the Chhattisgarh high court decision.

The SLP had challenged the constitutionality of Chhattisgarh Tribes Advisory Council (TAC) Rules, 2006. On November 18, the two-judge bench comprising Justice Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla and Abhay Manohar Sapre had turned down the demand of the petitioner to look into constitutional infirmities in the states’ TAC rules.

“The judges declined to determine the special objective and intent behind creating TAC in particular and Fifth Schedule in general, if any. They told the petitioner that he was ‘splitting hair’ and ‘wasting everybody’s time’,” says Manish.

The petitioner lost the case in state high court because of the view held by assistant solicitor general that governors do not have discretionary powers over administering tribal areas in a state. This was against the opinion of the Attorney General.

The assistant solicitor general who filed the submissions in the high court last month on the behalf of Union of India had told the court that the governor has no discretionary powers under provisions of the Fifth Schedule. However, the then the Attorney General of India, late G E Vahanvati, in April, 2010, had given his opinion to the Union ministry of home affairs that the governor has discretionary powers.

The petition filed by activist B K Manish had also pointed out that the governors were not exercising their near extra-constitutional powers in administering tribal areas as this would bring them in direct confrontation with chief ministers who head the TACs. It was also alleged that the governor was ignoring appeals that were made by tribal people against forcible land acquisition and other problems that they faced despite having the constitutional powers to work independent of the aid and advice of state council of ministers.


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