Panchayati Raj

  • Article 243 to 243-O,  Part-IX, 11th Schedule
  • The term Panchayati Raj in India signifies the system of rural local self-government.
  • established in all the states by the Acts of the state legislatures to build democracy at the grass root level.
  • It is entrusted with rural development.
  • It was constitutionalised through the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act of 1992.
Balwant Rai Mehta Committee – 1957
  • Government of India appointed to examine the working of the Community Development Programme (1952) and the National Extension Service (1953)
  • The committee recommended establishment of the scheme of ‘democratic decentralisation’
  • It ultimately came to be known as Panchayati Raj.
  • Recommendations
    1. Establishment of a threetier panchayati raj system—gram panchayat at the village level, panchayat samiti at the block level and zila parishad at the district level.
    2. These tiers should be organically linked through adevice of indirect elections.
    3. The village panchayat should be constituted with directly elected,
    4. Panchayat samiti and zila parishad should be constituted with indirectly elected members
    5. All planning and development activities should be entrusted to these bodies.
    6. The panchayat samiti should be the executive body while the zila parishad should be the advisory
    7. The district collector should be the chairman of the zila parishad.
  • Recommendations of the committee were accepted by the National Development Council in January 1958.
  • The council left it to the states to evolve their own patterns suitable to local conditions.
  • Rajasthan was the 1st state to establish Panchayati Raj, in Nagaur district, October 2, 1959
  • 2nd was Andhra Pradesh, who adopted it
Ashok Mehta Committee – 1977
  • Janata Government appointed a committee on panchayati raj institutions
  • Recommendations
    1. Twotier system, zila parishad – district level, and mandal panchayat consisting of a group of villages
    1. Panchayati raj institutions have compulsory powers of taxation
G V K Rao Committee – 1985
  • The Committee to review the existing Administrative Arrangements for Rural Development and Poverty Alleviation Programmes under the chairmanship
L M Singhvi Committee – 1986
  • Rajiv Gandhi government appointed this committee to prepare a concept paper on ‘Revitalisation of Panchayati Raj Institutions for Democracy and Development’
Thungon Committee – 1988
  • A sub-committee of the Consultative Committee of Parliament was constituted to examine the political and administrative structure in the district for the purpose of district planning.
Gadgil Committee – 1988
  • Committee was constituted by the Congress party
  • This committee was asked to consider the question of “how best Panchayati Raj institutions could be made effective”.
  • Recommendations
    1. A constitutional status should be bestowed on the Panchayati Raj institutions.
    2. Establishment of a State Finance Commission
    3. Establishment of a State Election Commission
    4. Term of Panchayati Raj institutions should be fixed at five years
    5. Members of the Panchayats at all the three levels should be directly elected.
  • Rajiv Gandhi Government introduced the 64th Constitutional Amendment Bill in the Lok Sabha in July 1989
  • Rajya Sabha dropped the bill
  • National Front Government, in 1989 under Prime Minister V P Singh, announced that it would take steps to strengthen the panchayati raj institutions.
  • In June 1990, a two-day conference of the state chief ministers under the chairmanship of V P Singh was held to discuss the issues relating to the strengthening of the panchayati raj bodies.
  • Congress Government under prime minister P V Narasimha Rao, considered the matter of the constitutionalisation of panchayati raj bodies.
  • It drastically modified the proposals in this regard to delete the controversial aspects and introduced a constitutional amendment bill in the Lok Sabha in September, 1991.
  • This bill finally emerged as the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992 and came into force on 24 April, 1993
Significance of the Act
  • This schedule contains 29 functional items of the panchayats.
  • It deals with Article 243-G.
  • The act has given a practical shape to Article 40 of the Constitution
  • The provisions of the act can be grouped into two categories—compulsory and voluntary.
  • The compulsory provisions of the act have to be included in the state laws creating the new panchayati raj system.
Gram Sabha
  • The act provides for a Gram Sabha as the foundation of the panchayati raj system.
  • It is a village assembly consisting of all the registered voters in the area of a panchayat.
  • It may exercise powers and perform functions at the village level as the legislature of a state determines.
Three-Tier System
  • The act provides for a three-tier system of panchayati raj in every state
  • panchayats at the village, intermediate, and district levels.
  • It brings about uniformity in the structure of panchayati raj throughout the country.
  • State having a population not exceeding 20 lakh may not constitute panchayats at the intermediate level.
Election of Members and Chairpersons
  • All the members of panchayats at the village, intermediate and district levels shall be elected directly by the people.
  • Chairperson of intermediate and district levels shall be elected indirectly from amongst the elected members.
  • Chairperson of a panchayat at the village level shall be elected in such manner as the state legislature determines.
Reservation of Seats
  • The act provides for the reservation of not less than 1/3 of the total number of seats for women (including the number of seats reserved for women belonging the SCs and STs).
  • not less than 1/3 of the total number of chairpersons at each level shall be reserved for women.
Duration of Panchayats 
  • The act provides for a fiveyear term of office to the panchayat at every level.
  • Panchayat reconstituted after premature dissolution, remains in office only for the remainder of the period.
State Election Commission
  • Preparation of electoral rolls and the conduct of all elections to the panchayats shall be vested in the state election commission.
  • It consists of a state election commissioner to be appointed by the governor.
  • His conditions of service and tenure of office shall also be determined by the governor.
  • He can be removed from the office in same manner and on the grounds of a judge of the state high court
Finance Commission
  • The governor of a state shall, after every five years, constitute a finance commission
  • It review the financial position of the panachayats.
  • It shall make recommendations to the Governor
    1. The distribution between the state and the panchayats of the net proceeds of the taxes, duties, tolls and fees levied by the state.
    2. The grants-in-aid to the panchayats from the consolidated fund of the state.
    3. The measures needed to improve the financial position of the panchayats.
    4. Any other matter referred to it by the governor in the interests of sound finance of the panchayats.
Application to Union Territories
  • The president of India may direct that the provisions of this act shall apply to any union territory
Exempted States and Areas
  • The act does not apply to the states of J&K, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Mizoram and certain other areas.
  • These areas include,
    1. the scheduled areas and the tribal areas in the states
    2. the hill area of Manipur for which a district council exists
    3. Darjeeling district of West Bengal for which Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council exists.
Bar to Interference by Courts in Electoral Matters
  • It declares that the validity of any law relating to the delimitation of constituencies or the allotment of seats to such constituencies cannot be questioned in any court.
  • It further lays down that no election to any panchayat is to be questioned except by an election petition presented to such authority and in such manner as provided by the state legislature.
Eleventh Schedule
  • It contains the following 29 functional items placed within the purview of panchayats
1. Agriculture, including agricultural extension
2. Land improvement, implementation of land reforms, land consolidation and soil conservation
3. Minor irrigation, water management and watershed development
4. Animal husbandry, dairying and poultry
5. Fisheries
6. Social forestry and farm forestry
7. Minor forest produce
8. Small-scale industries, including food processing industries
9. Khadi, village and cottage industries
10. Rural housing
11. Drinking water
12. Fuel and fodder
13. Roads, culverts, bridges, ferries, waterways and other means of communication
14. Rural electrification, including distribution of electricity
15. Non-conventional energy sources
16. Poverty alleviation programme
17. Education, including primary and secondary schools
18. Technical training and vocational education
19. Adult and non-formal education
20. Libraries
21. Cultural activities
22. Markets and fairs
23. Health and sanitation including hospitals, primary health centres and dispensaries
24. Family welfare
25. Women and child development
26. Social welfare, including welfare of the handicapped and mentally retarded
27. Welfare of the weaker sections, and in particular, of the scheduled castes and the scheduled tribes
28. Public distribution system
29. Maintenance of community assets
Compulsory Provisions
  1. Organisation of Gram Sabha in a village or group of villages.
  2. Establishment of panchayats at the village, intermediate and district levels.
  3. Direct elections to all seats in panchayats at the village, intermediate and district levels.
  4. Indirect elections to the post of chairperson of panchayats at the intermediate and district levels.
  1. 21 years to be the minimum age for contesting elections to panchayats.
  2. Reservation of seats (both members and chairpersons) for SCs and STs in panchayats at all the three levels.
  3. Reservation of one-third seats (both members and chairpersons) for women in panchayats at all the three levels.
  1. Fixing tenure of five years for panchayats at all levels and holding fresh elections within six months in the event of supersession of any panchayat.
  2. Establishment of a State Election Commission for conducting elections to the panchayats.
  3. Constitution of a State Finance Commission after every five years to review the financial position of the panchayats.
 Voluntary Provisions
  • Authorizing panchayats to levy, collect and appropriate taxes, duties, tolls and fees.
  • The provisions of Panchayats are not applicable to the 5th Schedule areas.
  • Parliament may extend these provisions to such areas
  • Parliament has enacted the “Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act”, 1996, popularly known as the PESA Act or the Extension Act.
  • At present, 10 states have 5th Schedule Areas.
  • These are: Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Chhatisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and Rajasthan.
Objectives of the Act
  • To extend the provisions of panchayats to the scheduled areas with certain modifications
  • To provide selfrule for the bulk of the tribal population
  • To have village governance with participatory democracy and to make the gram sabha a nucleus of all activities
  • To evolve a suitable administrative framework consistent with traditional practices
  • To safeguard and to preserve the traditions and customs of tribal communities
Features of the Act
  • Every Gram Sabha shall be competent to safeguard and preserve the traditions and customs of the people, their cultural identity, community resources and the customary mode of dispute resolution.
  • Every Gram Sabha shal approve of the plans, programmes and projects for social and economic development before they are taken up for implementation by the Panchayat at the village level
  • Gram Sabha responsible for the identification of beneficiaries under the poverty alleviation and other programmes.
  • The reservation of seats in the Scheduled Areas in every Panchayat shall be in proportion to the population of the communities for whom reservation is sought to be given under Part IX of the Constitution.
  • However, the reservation for the Scheduled Tribes shall not be less than one-half of the total number of seats.
  • all seats of Chairpersons of Panchayats at all levels shall be reserved for the Scheduled Tribes.
  • The state government may nominate such Scheduled Tribes which have no representation in the Panchayat at the intermediate level or the Panchayat at the district level.
  • But such nomination shall not exceed 10% of the total members to be elected in that Panchayat.
  • The prior recommendation of the Gram Sabha or the Panchayats at the appropriate level shall be mandatory for grant of concession for the exploitation of minor minerals by auction or licence.
  • Panchayats in the Scheduled Areas with such powers and authority need to function as institutions of self-government
  • The State Legislature follow the pattern of the 6th Schedule to the Constitution administrative arrangements in the Panchayats at district levels in the Scheduled Areas.
  • Across the country, States have not given adequate attention to fiscal empowerment of the Panchayats.
  • Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are the states which are considered to be progressive in PRIs empowerment but even there, the Panchayats are heavily dependent on government grants.
Single Stage
  • J&K – Halqa Panchayats
  • Meghalaya (don’t have panchayat )
  • Mizoram  (don’t have panchayat )
  • Nagaland  (don’t have panchayat )
Two Stage
  • Arunachal Pradesh
  • Goa
  • Sikkim
Four Stage
  • Assam
  • Tripura
  • This bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on 22 December, 1992, and Rajya Sabha on 23 December, 1992.
  • Later, it was approved by the 17 state assemblies and received the assent of the president on 20 April, 1993.
  • Madhya Pradesh holds 1st panchayat elections under the 73rd Amendment dispensation on 30 May 1994