Earlier, the Constitution (Fifty-First Amendment) Act, 1984 provided reservation of seats for the Scheduled Tribes of the following four North-Eastern states: Nagaland, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh, in the Lok Sabha and the Legislative Assemblies of Nagaland and Meghalaya. This was done by suitable amendment of Article 330 and 332 of the Constitution. The aim was to let the local tribal population have at least minimal representation in decision-making process and not feel insecure and unable to compete with the modern society.
However, it was realised that more effort is required to ensure the implementation of the aforesaid amendment. It was important to determine the ratio of the seats that must be reserved for the Scheduled Tribes of these states. Therefore, 57th Constitutional Amendment Bill was proposed on 25th August 1987.
The object of the bill was to make some special arrangements for reservation due to the historical background of the areas that comprise the North-East, for a temporary period, so that these areas smoothly shift to the normal arrangements that were originally conceived by the Constitution. Hence, further amendment of Article 332 was proposed till the seats are re-adjusted as per the first census that will happen after 2000 under Article 170 for these states for determining the number of seats reserved for Scheduled Tribes.
It was enacted on September 15th. It came in to effect from 21st September 1987. The following sub clause was inserted after Article 332(3), whereby condition to readjustment of seats after the first census which will take place after the year 2000, it was provided that if all the seats in the Legislative Assembly of these states are occupied by the members of Scheduled Tribes from the date of the Act’s enforcement, then all the seats except one shall be held by them.
In other cases, the proportion of seats reserved for Scheduled Tribes should not be less than the number of Scheduled Tribe members in the existing Assembly to the total number of seats in the Assembly.
The Act further specifies that the amendment of Article 332 by sub-section (1) will not disturb the representation in the Legislative Assembly of the states of Arunachal Pradesh or Meghalaya or Mizoram or Nagaland until the dissolution of the Legislative Assembly of any of the state that exists at the commencement of this Act.
In this way the Government tried to undertake action for the implementation and realization of the goals of our Constitution which stands on the principle of inclusivity, equality and justice.
Indian Polity – M Laxmikanth (Fifth Edition)
Indian Constitutional Law – M. P. Jain (Sixth Edition)
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