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AUTONOMOUS DISTRICT COUNCIL

 

The Autonomous District Councils: The Khasi Hills ADC came into existence on 27th June 1952, then known as the United Khasi-Jaintia Hills ADC. Later, however, in view of the special needs of the Jaintia tribes, it was bifurcated into two, that is, the Khasi Hills ADC and the Jaintia Hills ADC. Therefore, in the state of Meghalaya today, there are three ADCs, viz., the Garo Hills ADC for the Garo tribes, the Khasi Hills ADC for the Khasi tribes and the Jaintia Hills ADC for the Jaintia tribes.

Autonomous District Councils (ADCs) are now in existence in the states of Assam, Mizoram, Tripura and Meghalaya. The three sisters Councils of Meghalaya viz. Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council, Jai˝tia Hills Autonomous District Council and Garo Hills Autonomous District Council but they have not been in existence much earlier than the other Autonomous District Councils but they have not been to assert themselves in the subject as spelled out in the sixth schedule to the Constitution of India. While the Autonomous District Councils in Assam and Tripura can boast of annual budgets of over sixty crores those in Meghalaya have a current deficit budget of about twenty eight crores respectively.

    Fund is the life blood of any administration. For the purpose of promoting the welfare of schedule tribes or raising the level of administration of scheduled areas, the founding fathers of the Indian constitution have provided Article 275 (1). Though funds to the State of Meghalaya are provided under Article 275 (1) from the consolidated fund of India. At the time when India was at the threshold of Independence, the Khasi states were offered an option to accede to the Indian dominion or otherwise which after thorough deliberation, the majority placed their faith with the independent India and one after the other signed the instrument of accession in between 1947 and 1948 on condition that they will be guaranteed of autonomy in their administrations and safeguards to their traditions, customs, practices and usages through special mention in the constitution that independent India would formally adopt. Hence the sixth schedule to the constitution of India found a place in the constitution as a brain child of the founding fathers of whom the (L) Rev. J.J.M. Nicholas Roy, a Khasi social, religious and political leader had a tremendous role to play as a member of the constituent assembly.

    Thus the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) came into being on June 27, 1952 , a culmination of implementation of the provisions of the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India to fulfill the aspiration of the tribal people inhabiting the North East under one composite state of Assam in recognition of their time tested autonomous policy safeguarding their traditional heritage, customs, practices usages and economic security while conferring in them Executive, Legislative and Judicial powers along with development and financial powers and functions. The Khasi traditional institutions are therefore still functional today in their independent character under constitutional sanction of the Sixth Schedule.

    All laws, rules and regulations made by the ADC those requiring approval/assent of the governor, are sent through the District Council Affairs Department of the State of Meghalaya and after having obtained the approval/assent of the governor shall be published in the official gazette of the State Government to have the force of law, according to paragraph 11 of the Sixth Schedule. Paragraph 3 to 10 of the sixth schedule envisage the powers of the ADCs within the autonomous areas, to make laws of land, management of forests, except reserved forests, regulation on trade by persons not being local schedule tribes, appointment of traditional chiefs and headmen, inheritance of property, marriage, divorce, social customs, establishments and maintenance of primary schools, markets, taxation, issue of lease for extraction of minerals etc.

    The District Councils in Khasi and Jai˝tia Hills have their own rules for the administration of justice known as the united Khasi Jai˝tia Hills Autonomous District (Administration of Justice) rules 1953, under which three classes of courts have been provided namely: -

i. Village Courts, ii. Sub-ordinate District Council Courts and the Additional Sub-ordinate District Council Courts and

iii. District Council Court and Additional District Council Court.

   

The above mentioned Courts try all cases at different level when litigation is within the tribal areas and party or parties involved are tribal. They disperse justice in line with the traditional customs and usages at very speedy, simple and inexpensive manner. As a result they have benefited the poor people. The District Council stands to continue administering of speedy, cheap and fair justice to the people under its jurisdiction.

    The Sixth Schedule to the constitution of India has specifically mentioned powers of the district council on development. For this purpose the Executive Committee of Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council has given priority on maintenance of civic services for the welfare of the people. The Autonomous Districts Councils are self Governing bodies are not a parallel administration for the ADCs administer within the confines of the Sixth Schedule in which the powers and jurisdictions have been clearly spelt out. The Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council. Therefore has a great role to play in matters relating to development and welfare of the people at the grass root level apart from being the guardian and protector of the traditional institutions.

This site was last updated 10/08/07

 

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