OVERVIEW OF PANCHAYAT RAJ PROVISIONS10 min read

By- Shristi Tyagi

INTRODUCTION

The Balwantrai Mehta Report, while forming panchayat raj stated the remedy to the failure of the community development movement is the scheme of democratic decentralization. Hence, the institutional framework of democratic decentralization in rural India was served as a blueprint for panchayat raj. A three-tier system of Gram Panchayat at the village, Panchayat Samiti at the block level and Zilla Parishad at the District Level level is advocated by the report

Although the ancient India realized and recognized the importance of the Panchayat Raj System for its basic virtue of decentralization of powers in the interest of efficient administration, yet it was not codified until the British started ruling India. 

The Government of India Act, 1935 conferred certain powers on the provincial governments but the recommendations of the Royal Commission, 1909 were again ignored, although the scope of the panchayats was extended. The provincial government-controlled the panchayats through the District Collector. This continued till Independence in 1947.

The G.V.K.Rao Committee (1985) also suggested regular elections to the PRIs and the formulation of plans at the district level. The Sarkaria Commission (1988) on Centre-State Relations did not agree with the L.M.Singhvi Committee’s report of conferring a constitutional status of Panchayat Raj. A uniform law may be enacted by all the legislatures in accordance with the model bill of the Inter-State Council of Ministers established under Article 263 of the Constitution

Provisions of panchayat raj after independence 

The constitution of India confers Article 40 which covers the Directive Principles of the State, it said that the state should take necessary measure to provide power and authority to village panchayat so that they can function as self-government. However, it wasn’t favored by Dr.B.R. as he believed villages in India are divided on the basis of caste and religion, but Mahatma Gandhi and others insisted that the concept of “Gram Swaraj’ should become a part of governance.

The panchayats shall have two functions one pertaining to civic amenities and the other relating to development. It would be a rural local self-government system managed by local bodies that are elected by local people. Multiple provisions helped in the formation of Panchayats in India before reaching epitome with the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act of 1992. Now, in its present form and structure, it has completed 26 years of existence. 

It is expressed under article 243 of the Indian constitution and under part IX. it contains 15 provisions. The functions of the Panchayats now consists of 29 subjects in a new Eleventh Schedule.

Provisions are explained as:

  • Article 243 (A) acts as Basic units of the democratic system as Gram Sabhas and act as the legislature of state at village level .every state should be constituted of a Nagar Panchayat, a Municipal Council for a smaller urban area, a Municipal Corporation for a larger urban area.
  • Article 243 (B) every state should have panchayat at intermediate and district levels. Panchayats at the intermediate level will be constituted in population not exceeding twenty lakhs. 
  • Article 243 (C) and Article 243 (D) talks about the composition of seats at all levels to be filled by direct elections. also, seats should be reserved for scheduled castes and scheduled tribe. chairpersons of the Panchayats at all levels also to be reserved in proportion to their population of SC and ST. One-third of the total number of seats to be reserved for women belonging to SC and ST respectively.
  • Article 243 (E) Panchayat has a Uniform five-year term. In the event of dissolution, elections compulsorily held within six months.
  • Article 243K enshrines the provisions with respect to elections of the Panchayats. Independent Election Commission in each State for superintendence, direction, and control of the electoral rolls. The Courts have no jurisdiction over elections. This means that the Panchayat election can be questioned only in the form of an election petition before the State legislature as the law prescribes. The election commissioner, for this reason, is to be appointed by the Governor. The terms and conditions of the office of the Election commissioners have also to be decided by the Governor.
  • Article 243 (F) is about the disqualification of members if they don’t qualify 25 years of age or are disqualified by any other provision of law.
  • Article 243 (G) and Article (H) constitutes the power of Panchayats to prepare plans for economic development and social justice and implementation subjected in the eleventh schedule to impose tax and funds in accordance with such procedure and subject to such limits; Budgetary allocation from State Governments, share of revenue of certain taxes, collection and retention of the revenue it raises, Central Government programs and grants, Union Finance Commission grants
  • Article 243 (I) Establish a Finance Commission in each State to determine the principles on the basis of which adequate financial resources would be ensured for panchayats and municipalities. 
  • Article 243 (J) Includes provisions with respect to the maintenance of accounts by the Panchayats and the auditing of such accounts.
  • Article 243 (L) and Article (M) talks about the application of this provision, this provision applies to union territory under article 239 by public notification.

Part does not apply to certain areas such as:

  1. To the schedule and tribal class area under Article 244
  2. The States of Nagaland, Meghalaya, and Mizoram.
  3. The hill areas in the State of Manipur for which District Councils exist under any law for the time being in force.
  4. The district-level panchayats shall apply to the hill areas of the District of Darjeeling in the State of West Bengal for which Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council exists under any law for the time being in force.
  5. To reservation of seats in Article 243 (D) for the Scheduled Castes, shall apply to the State of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Article 243 (N) the existing law continues unless inconsistent and shall continue to be in force until amended or repealed by a competent Legislature or expiration of one year from commencement, whichever is earlier
  • Article 243 (O) bars the courts to interfere in the Panchayat Matters. The validity of any law relating to the delimitation of constituencies or the allotment of seats to such constituencies cannot be questioned in a court.
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STRUCTURE OF PANCHAYATI RAJ INSTITUTIONS

GRAM SABHA

Every as Gram Sabha area constitutes of panchayat.  village or a group of contiguous villages with a population of not less than two hundred can be declared as Gram Sabha area. Any person having voter ID can register as a member of the gram sabha. Regular Meetings of gram sabha are to be held twice one in June and other in December by sarpanch or deputy sarpanch. If it doesn’t the Sarpanch automatically ceases to hold office unless a proper explanation is given within 30 days . The quorum of the meeting has been fixed to one-fifth of the total number of its members.

FUNCTIONS:

A Gram Sabha is required to perform the following functions:

  • To approve the annual budget and plan of development of the area as well as assist on a development scheme and review annual statement of accounts and progress report;
  • To mobilize voluntary labor and contributions in kind or cash or both for the community welfare programs;
  • To promote adult education and family welfare activities with unity and harmony among all sections of the society
  • To seek clarifications for any particular activity, scheme, income and expenditure from Sarpanch and Deputy Sarpanches.

GRAM PANCHAYAT

Every Gram Sabha elects 5-13 sarpanch depending upon its population from its members.

Seats are reserved for SC, ST, and women while the electing Sarpanch as per the proportion of their population to the total number of offices of Sarpanches in the district as a whole. Further, one-third of the total number of offices of Sarpanches in the district has been reserved for women belonging to Scheduled Casts. Provision has also been made for the reservation of one panch from among the backward classes where their population is more than 20 percent in the total population of the Gram Sabha area.

Gram Panchayat along with the standing committee has a tenure of five years from the date of its first meeting. Each committee will consist of 3-5 members including the Sarpanch. The Sarpanch is the ex-officio member and Chairman of the Standing Committee.

RESOURCES OF GRAM PANCHAYAT

The main resources of Gram Panchayat are

  • tax on land and buildings within local limits
  • tax on profession, trades, canals and employment other than agriculture
  • duty on all payments for admission to any entertainment and surcharge on stamp duty on all transfers of property.
  • In addition to this, the other resources are fee on the registration of vehicles
  • fee for the providing sanitary arrangements at places of worship or pilgrimage, fairs and meals within the jurisdiction of a Panchayat
  • water rate and lighting rate  made by the Gram Panchayat within its jurisdiction

PANCHAYATI SAMITI

A Panchayat Samiti consists of following members:

  • Seven to ten directly elected members from the Sarpanches in the Panchayat Samiti area in 60:40  ratio of the representatives of the Sarpanches and that of the directly elected members.
  • All members are subject to vote in meetings. The directly elected members to a Panchayat Samiti consist of 6-10 members depending upon the population of each Panchayati Samiti.
  • Seats have been reserved for Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes.

The term of a Panchayat Samitis is for a period of five years from the date of its first meeting. The Chairman and Vice-Chairman are elected from amongst the elected members in the first meeting of the Samiti

RESOURCES OF PANCHAYAT SAMITI

  • A Panchayat Samiti may levy taxes, duties, cess and fess in accordance with the general direction and control of the State Government and with prior approval of the Zilla Parishad.
  • It can levy tolls, fees on the registration of vehicles other registered under the Motor Vehicle Act, 1986, a fee for providing sanitary arrangements at such places of worship or pilgrimage, fairs and meals with its jurisdiction
  • fee for a license for a market or any other license
  • a water and lighting rate made by the Panchayat Samiti within its jurisdiction.

ZILLA PARISHAD

A Zilla Parishad consists of

i) A minimum of 10 and maximum 25 Members are directly elected depending on the population

ii) Members of the House of the people and members of the legislative assembly representing a part or whole of the district;

iii) Chairman of all Panchayat Samiti within the district.

iv) Members of the Council of States and the Members of the Legislative Council,

if any, who are registered as electors within the district.

All members have right to vote .Seats have been reserved for the Scheduled Castes and the Backward Classes.

Every Zilla Parishad shall have tenure of five years. Standing Committees at this level will also be constituted with a maximum five-member elected by the members of Zilla Parishad from among themselves.

RESOURCES OF ZILLA PARISHAD

  • The State Government on the recommendation of the State Finance Commission may allow a Zilla Parishad to levy any tax, duty, fee, toll and cess which has not been levied by any Gram Panchayat or Panchayat Samiti.
  • The Zilla Parishad has  powers to impose, collect and spend appropriate fund such tax, toll, etc




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