Decentralization/Federalism: Memorandum of Settlement (Bodo Accord)

2. Objective

The objective of this scheme is to provide maximum autonomy within the framework of the Constitution to the Bodos for social, economic, educational, ethnic and cultural advancement.

3. (a) Name: Bodoland Autonomous Council (BAC)

There shall be formed, by an Act of Assam Legislative Assembly, a Bodoland Autonomous Council (BAC) within the State of Assam comprising continguous geographical areas between river Sankosh and Mazbat/river Pasnoi. The land records authority of the State will scruitinize the list of villages furnished by ABSU /BP AC having 50% and more of tribal population which shall be included in the BAC. For the purpose of providing a contiguous area, ever the villages having less than 50% tribal population shall be included. BAC will also include Reserve Forests as per the guidelines laid by Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, not otherwise required by the Government for manning the international border and tea gardens located completely within the BAC continguous area.

(b) Powers

The BAC will comprise of a General Council comprising 40 members, 35 elected on the basis of adult suffrage and having a life of five years. The Government will have powers to nominate 5 members to the Council, particularly from groups which could not otherwise be represented. This Council will have powers to make bye-laws, rules and orders for application within the BAC area on the subjects enumerated in Schedule 'A'.

(c) The Executive Authority of the BAC would be exercised in its Executive Body to be known as Bodoland Executive Council (BEC). The BEC will be responsible for implementation within the BAC area of the laws on subjects enumerated in Schedule 'A'.

(d) The General Council and the BEC will hold office during the pleasure of the Governor of Assam. Consultation with the State Law Department of Government of Assam would be necessary if the Governor proposed to dissolve either the General Conncil or the BEC before the expiry of its term in accordance with the provisions of law. The executive authority of the BEC will be exercised by the party enjoying a simple majority in the General Council. On completion of elections, the Governor would invite the leader of the majority partyto constitute the BEC.

4. Finances

(i) (a) The finances for the BAC will be earmarked under a separate subhead within the State budget, in keeping with the guidelines laid down by the Government of India from time to time. The government of Assam would have no powers to divert this earmarked allocation to other heads/areas except in exigencies when there is unavoidable overall Budget cut.

(b) The provisions made in 4 (i) (a) regarding allocation of funds should be in line with the spirit of the Constitution (seventy second) and (seventy third) amendment.

(ii) The BAC would also receive grant-in-aid from time to time within the principles and policies enunciated by the Government of India.

(iii) The General Council will have powers to raise finances from levies/fees/taxes etc., on subjects mentioned in Schedule 'A' subject to Constitutional amendment mentioned above.

(iv) The finances for the BAC will be managed exclusively by its General Council and the statement of its annual audited accounts will be laid on the table of the State Assembly.

5. Powers of appointments

The Bodoland Executive Committee would have powers to appoint Class III and Class IV staff within its jurisdiction for implementation of schemes connected with the subjects enumerated in Schedule 'A'.

6. Reservation of Seats

The Election Commission of India will be requested by the BAC to consider seat reservation and delimitation of constituencies, both Lok Sabha and State Assembly, within the BAC area to the extent permitted by the Constitution and the law.

7. Special provisions for the BAC area

The General Council shall be consulted and its views shall be given due regard before any law made on the following subjects, is implemented in the BAC area:

i) the religious or social practice of the Bodos;
ii) the Bodo customary laws and procedures; and
iii) the ownership and transfer of land within the BAC area.

8. Special status for the Bodoland Autonomous Council

The BAC shall, within the laws of the land, take steps to protect the demographic complexion of the areas falling within its jurisdiction.

17. Appointment of Interim Bodoland Executive Council

The Government of Assam will take steps for the formation of an Interim Bodoland Executive Council for the BAC from amongst the leaders of the present Bodoland movement who are signatories to this settlement, during the transition period, i.e. prior to the holding of election. Such Interim Council would be formed before a prescribed date mutually agreed between the Central and State Governments.

21. Ad-hoc Central grant for launching the BAC

After the signing of this settlement, and ad-hoc Budget on reasonable basis will be prepared by Interim BEC and discussed with the State and Central Governments for necessary financial support.

Implementation History

1993

Minimum Implementation

The Bodoland Autonomous Council Act was finalized when it received the presidential assent on 13 May 1993. It was then published on 15 May 1993 in the Assam Gazette (Extra ordinary No. 60). The Act included a provision reserving the BAC General Council 40 elected members. This included 30 seats reserved for the Scheduled Tribes. The Act also ensured the BAC executive power over a total of 38 subjects that ranged from cottage industry, education, forest to land, and land revenue. Following the 20 May 1993, an interim Bodoland Executive Council (BEC) was formed under the leadership of Sansuma Khunggur Bwiswmuthiary, the ABSU president. Four months later the BEC Chief Bwiswmuthiary resigned alleging the reason for his resignation was the non-fulfillment of the Bodo Accord’s provisions. The Assam government then installed Premsing Brahman (deputy chief) as the chair of the BEC. The state handed over authority to the executive council on 10 June 1993.1

The BAC interim Executive Council, however, was not able to exercise the executive authority the Bodoland Act had provided it because of the limited financial power and the overwhelming dominance of the state government.2 In fact, the election for the BAC that had been scheduled for 20 November 1993, never transpired.3

The BEC became ineffective as the ABSU and other groups started utilizing armed insurrections to demand greater autonomy. The autonomy provisions in the 1993 accords were never fully implemented.

  • 1. Sudhir Jacob George, “The Bodo Movement in Assam: Unrest to Accord,” Asian Survey 34, no. 10 (1994): 878-892.
  • 2. Manoj Kumar Nath, “Bodo Insurgency in Assam: New Accord and New Problems,” Strategic Analysis 27, no. 4 (2003): 533-545.
  • 3. Sudhir Jacob George, “The Bodo Movement in Assam: Unrest to Accord.”
1994

Minimum Implementation

No further developments observed.

1995

Minimum Implementation

No further developments observed.

1996

Minimum Implementation

No further developments observed.

1997

Minimum Implementation

No further developments observed.

1998

Minimum Implementation

No further developments observed.

1999

Minimum Implementation

No further developments observed.

2000

Minimum Implementation

No further developments observed.

2001

Minimum Implementation

No further developments observed.

2002

Minimum Implementation

No further developments observed.