The Continuing Tale of Scheduled Tribes Exploitation, in the U.T. of Lakshadweep
15 Dec, 2012 Kochi
The Constitution of India provides for a comprehensive framework for the socio-economic development of Scheduled Tribes and their protection from social injustice and all forms of exploitation by other groups of society.
According to Article 342 of the Constitution, the Scheduled Tribes are the tribes or tribal communities or part of or groups within these tribes and tribal communities which have been declared as such by the President through a public notification. The essential characteristics of these communities are:-Primitive Traits, Geographical isolation, Distinct culture, Economically backward; shy of contact with community at large and Economically backward.
Definition and Specification of STs:
“Scheduled Tribes” means such tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within such tribes or tribal communities as are deemed under article 342 to be Scheduled Tribes for the purposes of this Constitution.
Special Provisions relating to certain classes 342. Scheduled Tribes: The President may with respect to any State or Union Territory, and where it is a State, after consultation with the Governor thereof, by public notification, specify the tribes, or tribal communities or parts of or groups within tribes or tribal communities which shall for the purposes of this Constitution be deemed to be Scheduled Tribes in relation to that State or Union Territory, as the case may be.
Lakshadweep (Scheduled Tribes)
The inhabitants of the Lakshadweep (Laccadive, Minicoy and Aminidivi Islands and throughout the Union territory), who, and both of whose parents, were born in those islands. ‘Provided that the children who are born to inhabitants of Lakshadweep in any other place in the mainland of India shall be deemed to be inhabitants born in the islands if such children settle permanently in the islands’.[The Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Act 2003 dated 19.9.2003]
The High Court of Kerala, while hearing a writ petition (W.A.1517/2010) had the occasion to consider the role of SPORTS. It was observed that SPORTS has not been formed as a body of purely private individuals, but as an agency to help the land owners in Lakshadweep Island.
They expressed its deep concern over this situation. The Hon’ble Judges also narrated therein, the various Constitutional Protections envisaged for the Scheduled Tribes: (Excerpts from the Judgment, Kerala High Court in W.A.1517/2010 dated 22nd October 2010)
“97. It must be said that while dealing with these cases, certain disturbing facts have come to our notice. This court had occasion to consider the role of SPORTS. It was observed that SPORTS has not been formed as a body of purely private individuals, but as an agency to help the land owners in Lakshadweep Island, most of whom are members of Scheduled Tribes, to advance their interests and seek betterment of their status in life. It is further observed that the objective behind the Presidential Regulation is carried forward by the mechanism of floating a Society, by which the individual land owners are enabled to benefit and obtain sufficient returns from their lands. The purpose and object for which the Society has been formulated has been considered in detail by this court. The question is whether they have been able to meet the aspirations of the people of the Island.
98. Constitution of India provides an elaborate framework for the amelioration of Scheduled Tribes and to curtail and prevent atrocities against them. Articles 15(4), 16(4A), 19(5), 46, 275, 243T, 244, 330, 335 and the 5th and 6th Schedules deal with the political, social and economic development of those people apart from the other Articles applicable to all. The Union Territory of Lakshadweep is being administered by an Administrator appointed as per Article 239 of the Constitution of India. Articles 239 to 241 deal with the various aspects relating to the UT. Even though the Constitution provides adequate care for these unfortunate persons, it seems that the progress is very slow.
99. One cannot omit to note that the Administrator is the supreme authority in the UT and he looks after the affairs of the UT. Considering the nature of the post he holds, he is indeed a trustee of the public wealth and is bound to act for the welfare of the people of the Island and for its development. There is an obligation cast on him to ensure that the land owners get adequate returns and also to ensure that the funds so earned from the letting out of the resort is utilized for the development of the Island. The concept of ‘distributive justice’ was propounded in the decision reported in Lingappa Pochanna v. State of Maharashtra (AIR 1985 SC 389). In the said decision, it was held as follows:
“Under the scheme of the Constitution, the Scheduled Tribes as a class require special protection against exploitation. The very existence of Scheduled Tribes as a distinctive class and the preservation of their culture and way of life based as it is upon agriculture which is inextricably linked with ownership of land, requires preventing an invasion upon their lands. ……………… Art.46 of the Constitution which enjoins that "The State shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people and in particular of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation”
The Legal Battle for Bangaram Resort, U.T. of Lakshadweep:
The revenue derived by M/s. Casino Hotels from the Bangaram Resort ran to crores. Only a fraction of the total income was reached to the land owners, who belongs to the most impoverished and marginalized Scheduled Tribe people of India, the U.T. of Lakshadweep. Allegations were made by the Islanders who claimed that “by periodic inducements to the corrupt officials of SPORTS, M/s. Casino could go on extending the lease for nearly 22 years. Full Text http://lakshadweepforum.com/blog/the-legal-battle-for-bangaram-resort-u-t-of-lakshadweep/
Judgment Full Text: Kerala High Court Society For The Promotion Of vs M/S.Hotel &Amp; Allied Trades … on 22 October, 2010 http://indiankanoon.org/doc/1909695/
The Ministry of Tribal Affairs:
The Ministry of Tribal Affairs was set up in 1999 after the bifurcation of Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment with the objective of providing more focused approach on the integrated socio-economic development of the Scheduled Tribes (STs), the most underprivileged of the Indian Society, in a coordinated and planned manner. The Ministry shall be the nodal Ministry for overall policy, planning and coordination of programmes of development for the Scheduled Tribes. In regard to sectoralprogrammes and schemes of development of these communities policy, planning, monitoring, evaluation etc. as also their coordination will be the responsibility of the concerned Central Ministries/ Departments, State Governments and Union Territory Administrations. Each Central Ministry/Department will be the nodal Ministry or Department concerning its sector.
Constitutional Provisions http://tribal.nic.in/Content/constitutionalprovisions.aspx