Recently Jharkhand Assembly passed a resolution demanding a separate ‘Sarna Code’ for Tribals. The proposal was tabled by Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren. The Sarna Code resolution was passed unanimously with voice vote on 11 Nov 2020.

The Resolution seeks a separate column for followers of Sarna religion in Census 2021.

Sarna religion

The Sarna religion followers are worshippers of nature. They do not consider themselves as Hindus. They have been fighting for a separate religious identity for decades. Presently, Sarna is not classified as a separate religion.

The holy grail of the faith is “Jal, Jungle, Zameen” and its followers pray to the trees and hills while believing in protecting the forest areas. The State has 32 tribal groups of which 8 are from Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (VTG).

According to 2011 census around 5 million (50 lakhs) tribal in the country put their religion as ‘Sarna’.

Schedule 5

In the last 80 years, the tribal population in Jharkhand has come down to 26.02 per cent from 38.03 per cent. The decline in tribal population has impact on policies framed to benefit the tribal communities and also on constitutional provisions. In 2019, there were demands to denotify Schedule V of the constitution of India areas where the population of the tribal has come down. The Sarna resolution passed in the Assemble will address this problem.


Sarna religion is completely based on naturalistic worshipping. The major problem is that the term Sarna is not common to all the adherers of naturalistic religions worshipping forests, mountains and rivers.

Claims by Sarna Tribes

There was separate Sarna Code from British India to Republic of India ( 1871 to 1951). However, the Code was removed in around 1961-62. Also, the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) recommended to add Sarna Code in the 2011 Census. However, this recommendation was not implemented.

NCST is an Indian constitutional body that was established through Constitution Act, 2003. It was formed on 19 February 2004 and Kunwar Singh Tekam was the first executive. The Objectives of the NCST are: Protection, welfare and development & advancement of the Scheduled Tribes

Schedule V of the Indian Constitution

Under the Schedule V, It deals with control and administration of Scheduled Areas (SA) and scheduled Tribes (ST) residing in states other than Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Mizoram. In Scheduled areas the government of india plays a important role in safeguarding the economic and cultural interests of ST.

Jharkhand Assembly passes resolution on Sarna Code Jharkhand Assembly passes resolution on Sarna Code