The Jharkhand had decided to drop all cases related to the Pathalgadi movement of 2017-2018. However even after 1 year, there has been no progress.
The word pathalgadi is drawn from a tribal custom of erecting stone plaques on the tomb of tribal people in Jharkhand.
It is also done in honour of their ancestors, to announce important decisions regarding their families and villages or to simply mark the boundary of their villages.
When the Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA) came into force, officials started the practice of erecting stone plaques in villages with provisions of the Act inscribed on it.
This was done to empower people belonging to the 5th Schedule area on their legal and constitutional safeguards.
The villagers said that they read these provisions and orders to reiterate supremacy of powers of traditional Gram Sabha and traditional Adivasi governance systems; rights of Adivasis over land; the restricted rights of non-adivasis and outsiders in the scheduled areas to settle down and work and; that Adivasis are the original inhabitants and owners of India.
Start of movement
The government had attempted to tweak Chhotanagpur Land Tenancy Act, 1908 and the Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act, 1949, in which a tribal can buy or sell their land only to another tribal, by passing an ordinance amending Land Acquisition Act (Jharkhand Amendment) in 2017.
This led to violence in the state capital and protests were held in various parts of the state. As an extension to this protest, the tribals of Khunti, Gumla, Simdega, Saraikela, West Singhbhum area started erecting stones in their villages with PESA provisions highlighting their rights which came to be known as Pathalgadi movement.
5th schedule areas
Tribals form more than 1/4th of Jharkhand’s population and are part of the 5th Schedule provisions of the constitution.
It vests the Governor of a state with special powers to safeguard and protect the interests of the tribal population, which includes examining the laws enacted by the parliament or legislature and accordingly restrain or allow it keeping the interests of the tribals in tune with customary law, social and religious practices among others.
The Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 or PESA is a law enacted by the Government of India for ensuring self governance through traditional Gram Sabhas for people living in the Scheduled Areas of India.
Scheduled Areas are found in ten states of India which have predominant population of tribal communities.
The Scheduled Areas were not covered by the 73rd Constitutional Amendment or Panchayati Raj Act of the Indian Constitution as provided in the Part IX of the Constitution.
PESA was enacted on 24 December 1996 to extend the provisions of Part IX of the Constitution to Scheduled Areas, with certain exceptions and modifications.
PESA sought to enable the Panchayats at appropriate levels and Gram Sabhas to implement a system of self-governance with respect to a number of issues such as customary resources, minor forest produce, minor minerals, minor water bodies, selection of beneficiaries, sanction of projects, and control over local institutions.