In pursuit of “equality for all the citizens”: National Legal Services Authority asked to provide free legal consultations to Scheduled Tribes (ST) – Supreme Court

[…] A Bench [of the Supreme Court], headed by Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur, asked the authorities to discharge their duties to protect the SCs/STs [Scheduled Tribes] to attain the constitutional goal of equality for all citizens.

“The constitutional goal of equality for all the citizens can be achieved only when the rights of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes are protected. The abundant material on record proves that the authorities are guilty of not enforcing the provisions of the Act,” the Bench, also comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and L. Nageshwara Rao, observed in a recent judgment. It asked the National Legal Services Authority to formulate appropriate schemes to spread awareness and provide free legal aid to SCs and STs.

Source: “SC criticises poor implementation of SC/ST Act” by Legal Correspondent, The Hindu (National), December 22, 2016
Date Visited: Mon Apr 10 2017 10:35:39 GMT+0200 (CEST)

It’s a long road to freedom!

Stan Swamy (sociologist and activist for Adivasi rights) in “I am Not a Silent Spectator: Why Truth has become so bitter, Dissent so intolerable, Justice so out of reach” | Indian Social Institute, Bangalore, 2021 | Accountability >>

Constitutional conversations on Adivasi rights

Even 67 years after Independence, the problems of Adivasi communities are about access to basic needs. These include, but are not restricted to, elementary education, community healthcare, sustainable livelihood support, the public distribution system, food security, drinking water and sanitation, debt, and infrastructure. For them, equality of opportunity remains largely unfulfilled. In this context, it is important to stress that the values of tribal culture are transmitted in a manner that protects the right of the bearers of knowledge to determine the terms of the transmission without exploitation or commodification. Nor can the Adivasis’ unhindered access to land and forests, including full access to the commons, especially in scheduled areas, be understated. Tribal communities have, over the decades, witnessed the fragmentation of their habitats and homelands and the disruption of their cultures through predatory tourism. All this has left them shattered and impoverished. Entire communities across States have been dispossessed systematically through state action, and have been reduced from owners of resources and well-knit, largely self-sufficient communities to wage earners in agriculture and urban agglomerates with uncertain futures. Yet, we can scarcely forget that the rights of tribal communities in India are protected by the Constitution and special legislations. […]

Understanding the situation of tribal communities is key to understanding the Constitution, its framework and its possibilities in the fullest sense. Perhaps it is time to reinvigorate our reading of the Constitution in the troubled times we live in. We may find answers to other questions as well around an idea of justice that we grapple with every day.

(Kalpana Kannabiran is Professor and Director, Council for Social Development)

Source: “Constitutional conversations on Adivasi rights” by Kalpana Kannabiran, The Hindu (Comment), 24 July 2015
Date Visited: Mon Apr 10 2017 11:05:26 GMT+0200 (CEST)

Tribal people, accounting for 8.2% of India’s population, are spread all over India’s states and union territories. Even so, they can be broadly classified into three groupings. […]

The Fifth and Sixth Schedules, under Article 244 of the Indian Constitution in 1950 provided for self-governance in specified tribal majority areas. This did not happen. Indeed, migrations reduced the number of adivasi majority areas. But there are still solutions possible within the Indian Constitution and in the universal principles of justice and equality. There are 332 tribal majority tehsils in India, of which 110 are in the North East, where they have won states of their own.

This leaves 222 tehsils encompassing an adivasi population of over 20 million. These tehsils, many of them contiguous, must be immediately made self-governing areas, as envisaged by the Constitution. All these tribal majority areas must be consolidated into administrative divisions whose authority must be vested with democratically chosen leadership. This body could be called the Adivasi Maha-panchayat and must function as a largely autonomous institution. All laws passed by the state legislatures must be ratified to the satisfaction of the Maha-panchayat. […]

The police must also be made answerable to local elected officials and not be a law unto themselves. […]

Source: “Adivasis: India’s original inhabitants have suffered the most at its hands” by Mohan Guruswamy (, 20 January 2016)
Date Visited: Mon Apr 10 2017 10:53:25 GMT+0200 (CEST)

[Bold typeface added above for emphasis]


“India, also known as Bharat, is a Union of States. It is a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic with a parliamentary system of government.” – Constitution of India

Source: National Portal of India
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