SC notice to Chhattisgarh on the way tribal advisory councils function

Centre issues circular clarifying governors have special role in supervising governance of tribal areas to ensure partial autonomy

By Jitendra
Published: Tuesday 23 July 2013

The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to government of Chhattisgarh on a special leave petition (SLP) that has challenged the way tribal advisory councils are functioning in Schedule Five areas of the state.  The petition (BK Manish V State of Chhattisgarh)  states these bodies are largely responsible for the woes of tribal people in the country.

A division bench of Justices RM Lodha and Ibrahim Kalifullah, while issuing the notice, observed it was a serious matter.
The SLP was filed in the apex court after the Chhattisgarh High Court dismissed the public interest petition questioning functioning of tribal advisory councils in March this year. The high court had accepted the contention of the Chhattisgarh government that governors do not have discretionary powers in Fifth Scheduled areas and that they are bound by aid and advice of council of ministers of the state government.

The submission of the state government contradicted the opinion expressed by Attorney General of India, who had said the governor does have discretionary powers under the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution of India. Attorney General G E Vahanvati gave this opinion on April 21, 2010 based on nine judgements of the Supreme Court; he cited other references as well.  

Last week, the Ministry of Law and Justice, issued a circular to all law officers, clarifying that Attorney General Vahanvati’s opinion that the governor has discretionary powers under Fifth Schedule is the formal stand of government of India.


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