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The Role Of The Fifth And Sixth Schedules In Protecting Indigenous Rights: An Assessment Of Asymmetric Federalism At Work

Pintu Kumar, B.B.A. LLB (H.), Law College Dehradun, Uttaranchal University, Dehradun (Uttarakhand)

Hadiya Khan, Assistant Professor, Law College Dehradun, Uttaranchal University, Dehradun (Uttarakhand)


India presents a remarkable combination of asymmetric federalism, embedded in its Constitution through the Fifth and Sixth Schedules, which are structured to protect the rights and autonomy of indigenous peoples. India’s peculiar positioning within constitutional asymmetric/autonomy arrangements stem largely from the towering framework of its constitutional order, which was designed to recognise and acknowledge its deep-rooted diversity and the specific challenges of addressing the needs of indigenous peoples. With the adoption of the Indian Constitution in 1950, the Fifth Schedule was brought in to protect the interests of communities recognised as ‘Tribal’ across most Indian states, guaranteeing them autonomy by protecting them against encroachment, outsiders and other forms of land alienation, while the Sixth Schedule particular to States of the northeast provides even further autonomy. Both the Fifth and Sixth Schedule were meant to restrict the provision of alienable land rights to non-indigenous persons, thereby promoting self-governance, sociocultural autonomy, and economic development, with both systems presenting challenges regarding administrative inefficiency, legal ambiguities, and violations of indigenous rights in the face of intractable conflicts with nationally defensible developmental goals. In sum, there is a need to formulate (legal/constitutional) reforms, policy measures for enforcement, and mechanisms of participation that buttress the protection of indigenous rights within the institutional model of asymmetric federalism.

Keywords: Asymmetric Federalism, Indigenous Rights, Fifth Schedule, Sixth Schedule, Tribal Areas, Autonomy


Indian Journal of Law and Legal Research

Abbreviation: IJLLR

ISSN: 2582-8878


Accessibility: Open Access

License: Creative Commons 4.0

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​All research articles published in The Indian Journal of Law and Legal Research are fully open access. i.e. immediately freely available to read, download and share. Articles are published under the terms of a Creative Commons license which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the IJLLR or its members. The designations employed in this publication and the presentation of material therein do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the IJLLR.

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