The British government, in 1871, enacted the Criminal Tribes Act, categorizing certain tribes in India as “born criminals” due to allegations of repeat offenses.

Main Body:

Exploitative Legislation:

  • The British government enacted the Criminal Tribes Act of 1871 to control these tribes and labeled them as criminals.
    • Example: Tribes such as the Pardhis, Kanjars, and Nat community were labeled as criminal tribes.

Social Stigmatization:

  • This act led to social ostracization, making it extremely difficult for these denotified tribes to escape the stigma associated with being labeled as criminals.
    • Example: Members of these tribes were often treated with suspicion and mistrust by mainstream society.

Geographical Isolation:

  • Many of these tribes live in remote and inhospitable terrains with limited access to basic services such as education and healthcare.
    • Example: The Van Gujjars, who inhabit dense forests and remote hills, face significant challenges in accessing education and healthcare.

Political Marginalization:

  • The scattered population of these tribes into small tribal groups results in a lack of political representation, and their concerns often go unnoticed in policy-making.
    • Example: The Bhil and Bhilala communities in Madhya Pradesh have historically struggled for political representation.

Reservation Challenges:

  • These denotified tribes often do not fall under Scheduled Caste (SC) or Scheduled Tribe (ST) categories, making them ineligible for reservations and affirmative action benefits.
    • Example: The DNT communities like the Kanjar and Sansi find themselves without the protective umbrella of reservations.

Limited Integration Opportunities:

  • Due to their presence in remote and inaccessible areas, these tribes find it challenging to integrate with mainstream society, hindering their social and economic progress.
    • Example: The Chenchus of Andhra Pradesh, who reside in dense forests, have limited interaction with the outside world.


There is an urgent need to address the plight of denotified tribes in India.

Measures such as establishing Eklavya residential schools and initiatives similar to the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development

Federation of India (TRIFED) for Scheduled Tribes (STs) should be extended to denotified tribes.

By providing education, healthcare, and economic opportunities, we can help uplift these marginalized communities and ensure they are not left behind in India’s journey towards progress and development.

Legacy Editor Changed status to publish September 12, 2023