Conservation of Forest and Tribal Governance in India: Laws and Flaws


  • Omendra Singh


Scheduled Areas, Scheduled Tribes, Fifth Schedule, PESA, Tribal Communities, Autonomous Regions


The Constitution of India establishes a detailed federal structure in which legislative authority is divided between the Indian Parliament and the Central Government ("the Union") on one hand and the state legislatures and governments on the other.[1] "Local government, that is to say local authorities for the purpose of local self-government or village adminis­tration" is a subject of state legislation.[2] These local governments are of two types–local governments in the urban areas termed as "municipalities" and those in the rural areas, traditionally, and now statutorily, called "Panchayats". Though states could invoke their jurisdiction under the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution to legislate for municipalities and Panchayats when required, 40 years of experience revealed that power remained captured within state administrations and the local governments were nonfunctional.[3] Therefore, in 1992 the Indian Parliament decided to decentralize state executive and legislative authority by adding two entirely new parts to the Constitution. Part IX[4] required the states to establish local government bodies (or Panchayats) in rural areas, while Part 1X-A[5] similarly mandated municipalities in urban areas


[1] Constitution of India, 1950, Art. 245(1). The subjects of legislation (known as 'entries') are collected under the Seventh Schedule and are arranged as the "Union List" (List I), the "State List" (List II) and the "Concurrent List" (List III). The union and the states may both legislate on subjects in the Concurrent List, but Parliamentary legislation preempts state law when the former occupies the field.

[2] Constitution of India, 1950, Sch. VII. List II, Entry 5. 

[3] Though Article 40 of the Constitution asked the State "to organize village panchayats and endow them with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them lo function as units of self-government," it was merely a (non-binding) Directive Principle of State Policy.

[4] Constitution of India, 1950: amended by the Constitution (Seventy-third Amendment) Act, 1992.

[5] Constitution of India, 1950, Sch. VII. List II, Entry 5.  .