This article is written by Aanchal Rawat a Second year student, pursuing B com- L.L.B.(Hons.) at R N Patel Ipcowala School of Law and Justice, Vallabh Vidhyanagar.


“A tribe is a collection of families bearing a common name, speaking a common dialect, occupying or professing to occupy a common territory and is not usually endogamous, though originally it might have been so.” (Imperial Gazetteer of India)

A Tribe is a social group of people, who are dependent on the land for livelihood and are self-sufficient.

Characteristics of Tribal Community

  1. They live in an isolated area.
  2. They follow the primitive method of occupation like hunting, gathering of minor forest produce.
  3. They are backwards educationally and economically.
  4. Members profess a Primitive religion.
  5. They have their dialect but it is not written.
  6. They love music, dance and liquor.
  7. Unity is seen in the community.
  8. They are dressed scantily.

Evolution of the term in India

In India, tribes were considered as a backward class. Later on, the term was used to denote weaker sections. Till 1919, Tribes were referred to as a depressed class. After 1919, Indian Administration Committee gave a different name to them in census reports as under.

  1. Census 1931: Primitive Tribes
  2. Census 1941: Tribes
  3. Census 1951: Scheduled Tribes

The term Scheduled Tribes was interested in Indian Constitution with the help of Article 342(1).it gives authority/power to the President of India to specify tribal communities by public notifications.

From this power following presidential orders have been issued.

  • The Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order 1950
  • The Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) part “C” states order 1951
  • The Scheduled Tribes List (Notification) order 1956, etc.

Constitutional Rights

Indian Constitution provides a social, economic and political guarantee to the people. This guarantee is for everyone and some specific guarantee is provided to weaker sections.

  1. Social:
  • Equality before law (Art.14)
  • Special provisions for the advancement of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. [Art.15 (4)]
  • Equal opportunities in the matter of public employment. (Art.16)
  • The state shall make provision for reservation in employment for backward class citizens. [Art.16 (4)]
  • The state shall make provision in matters of promotion for people of Scheduled caste and scheduled tribes. [Art.16 (4A)]
  • Establishment of National Commission for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes to monitor all the safeguard provisions provided to Schedule Caste and Scheduled Tribes by Constitution. [Art. 338 (A)]
  • Appointment of Commission to make a report on the administration of the Scheduled Areas and the welfare of the Scheduled Tribes in the States. [Article 339 (1)]
  • Appointment of Commission to investigate the condition of backward class. (Art.340)
  • Specification of Tribes or Tribal communities to be Scheduled Tribes. (Art.342)
  1. Economic
  • Promotion of Education and Economic interest in people of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes. Protection to them from social injustice and exploitation. (Art. 42)
  • Grants in Aid to be made available for promoting the welfare of Scheduled tribes and administration of Scheduled Tribes from Consolidated Fund of India. [Art.275 (1)]
  • The claims of the people of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in the appointments to services or posts in connection with the Union or a State shall be taken into consideration consistent with the maintenance of efficiency of administration (Article 335).
  1. Political
  • Administration of Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes. (Art.244)
  • Reservation of seats for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in Lok Sabha (Article 330); 
  • Reservation of seats for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in the Legislative Assemblies of the States (Article 332);
  • Reservation of seats for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in all Panchayats (Article 243D)

Legal Rights

  • The Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities Act) 1989
  • To prevent atrocities committed against members of Scheduled Tribes.
  • To provide a trial for the offence committed against members of Scheduled Tribes and rehabilitation of victims.
  • The Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996
  • Safeguards people’s tradition, custom, culture, identity and their traditional resources.
  • Under this act, the consultation will be taken from Gram Sabha and Panchayats at an appropriate level for the following things.
  1. Land acquisition in Scheduled Areas
  2. Rehabilitation of people affected while land acquisition was done in Schedule Areas.
  • The Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006
  1. Features of this Act:

The Act vests the forest rights and occupation in forest land to in FDST and OTFD.

Establishment of responsibility and authority for sustainable use, for the conservation of Biodiversity and for maintaining ecological balance.

  1. Rights recognised by this Act:
  • Title Rights: Right of ownership of land to a maximum of 4 hectares by tribal and forest dwellers.
  • Use Rights: Right to use Minor forest produce, grazing areas and pasture land and many more.
  • Relief and Development Rights: Right to rehabilitation if tribal and forest dwellers are subjected to illegal eviction or are being forced for displacement.
  • Forest Management Rights: Right to conserve, protect and manage community produce.
  1. Who can claim these rights?
  • Members of Scheduled tribes who live in forests and are dependent on forest lands for livelihood.
  • Any member who has lived for 75 years at least in forest lands for livelihood.

Land Alienation

It is a very huge problem for tribals. The land is the source for their livelihood and if that is taken away what will they do. The land is alienated from tribal in many ways. Following are some of them:

  1. Manipulation of land records: The unsatisfactory state of land records contributed a lot to the problem of land alienation. The tribals were never legally recognized as owners of the lands which they cultivated.
  2. Benami Transactions: Tribal people lose their land ownership due to illegal and Benami transactions, in it the landowner remains the same however they are reduced to the level of sharecroppers.
  3. Leasing and mortgaging land: when Tribal has an economic problem to solve it, they can only mortgage or can give their land on lease.
  4. Encroachment: It is done by new entrants when there are no proper land records.
  5. Martial Alliance: It a way to grab tribal lands at no cost at all.
  6. Fictitious adoption: Adoption of non-tribal by tribal families is another way of taking away the land of tribal.

In this way, Tribal people lose their land.

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