Ranchi, Sept. 5: The state cabinet today approved amendmends to the Jharkhand Panchayat Act, 2001, dereserving the posts of deputy pramukhs and deputy mukhiyas in the Schedule V areas of the state.
The cabinet also put its seal of approval on a proposal to do away with 100 per cent reservation for the posts of mukhiyas in all villages with a “zero tribal population” falling under the Schedule areas.
As many as 113 blocks covering 14 districts in the state had been brought under the Schedule V areas of the state during the then unified Bihar on December 21, 1977, through a notification titled ‘The Scheduled Areas (State of Bihar, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh) Order, 1977,’ to ensure empowerment of the tribal society and to protect their age-old systems of governance.
The districts covered included Ranchi, Lohardaga, Gumla, Simdega, Latehar, East and West Singhbhum, Seraikella, Sahebganj, Dumka, Jamtara, Godda, Pakur and Garhwa.
Legal experts, however, pointed out that since both the cabinet decisions virtually had the effect of redifining the Schedule V areas, it was beyond the ambit of the state to approve such amendments without obtaining the prior concurrence of the President.
The experts, who requested anonymity, stressed that since the Bihar 1977 notification bringing 14 districts under the Schedule V areas was issued more than 25 years ago, it was incumbent on the state government to first review the entire Scheduled areas before recommending the amendments.
The 1991 census revealed that even in the districts of Ranchi, Latehar, Seraikella, East Singhbhum, Sahebganj and Dumka, falling under the Scheduled area, the tribal population has fallen to well below 50 per cent. “At least 100 villages falling under the Schedule areas are now bereft of even a single tribal home,” they added.
The experts further pointed out that though the 73rd amendment formed the basis of the Jharkhand Panchayat Act, 2001, glaring differences persisted between the two Acts.
“The central Act contained no provision for reserving the posts of deputy pramukhs and deputy mukhiyas even in the Schedule areas though the state Act had gone a step ahead by reserving such posts in the Schedule areas,” they added.
“The central Act had begun with a hamlet as the starting point while the Jharkhand Act had identified a village with a population of at least 5000 as a gram panchayat,” they said.
“The entire Jharkhand Act thus needed to be reviewed in the proper perspective,” the experts said.
The cabinet also granted post facto aproval to the sacking of three judicial officers, Rajesh Kumar Srivastava, judicial magistrate, Dhanbad; Dinesh Kumar Shukla, ad hoc additional sessions judge, fast track court, Jamshedpur; and Ajit Kumar, additional district judge, Garhwa. They were earlier removed on the orders of Jharkhand High Court.
The cabinet approved the removal of both members of the state Judicial Services Authority and ordered that they be replaced by judicial commissioner, Ranchi, and district sessions judge, Jamshedpur, who would hold the posts of members in an ex-officio capacity.