Panchayati Raj System in India
National Panchayati Raj Day 2021: It is observed on 24 April every year. During the occasion, the best performing Panchayats/State/UTs are awarded under 5 categories of awards. These awards are Deen Dayal Upadhyay Panchayat Sashktikaran Puraskar, Nanaji Deshmukh Rashtriya Gaurav Gram Sabha Puraskar, Gram Panchayat Development Plan Award, Child-friendly Gram Panchayat Award, and e-Panchayat Puraskar for States/UTs only.
Panchayats have been one of the basic features of Indian society. As we know even Mahatma Gandhi advocated for panchayats and village republics. Since independence, we had multiple provisions of Panchayats in India from time to time finally reaching the epitome with the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act of 1992.
The Act aims to provide a three-tier system of Panchayati Raj, which consists of:
(a) Village-level Panchayats
(b) Block-level Panchayats
(c) District-level Panchayats
Main Features of the 73rd Amendment Act
• Gram Sabha may exercise such powers and perform such functions at the village level as the Legislature of a State may, by law, provide.
• There shall be constituted in every State, Panchayats at the village, intermediate, and district levels in accordance with the provisions of this Part.
• Panchayats at the intermediate level may not be constituted in a State having a population not exceeding twenty lakhs
• All the seats in a Panchayat shall be filled by persons chosen by direct election from territorial constituencies in the Panchayat area and, for this purpose, each Panchayat area shall be divided into territorial constituencies in such manner that the ratio between the population of each constituency and the number of seats allotted to it shall, so far as practicable, be the same throughout the Panchayat area.
- The Legislature of a State may, by law, provide for the representation of the Chairpersons of the Panchayats at the village level, intermediate level or, in the case of a State not having Panchayats at the intermediate level, in the Panchayats at the district level
Reservation of Seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes:
Article 243 D provides that seats shall be reserved for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes. In every Panchayat, the reservation of seats shall be in proportion to their population. Out of the seats so reserved not less than one-third of the total number of seats reserved shall be reserved for women belonging to the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes respectively.
Reservation for Women- Not less than one-third of the total number of seats reserved for women belonging to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes to be filled by direct election in every Panchayat shall be reserved for women.
Reservation of offices of Chairpersons- The offices of the Chairpersons in the Panchayats at the village or any other level shall be reserved for the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes, and women in such a manner as the Legislature of a State may, by law.
Disqualifications of Members:
A person shall be disqualified for being a member of a Panchayat, if he is so disqualified by or under any law for the time being in force for the purposes of elections to the Legislature of the State concerned; and if he is so disqualified by or under any law made by the Legislature of the State.
Powers, Authority, and Responsibilities of Panchayat:
State Legislatures have the legislative powers to confer on Panchayats such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as institutions of self-government. They may be entrusted with the responsibility of preparing plans and implementation of schemes for economic development and social justice.
Powers to Impose Taxes and Financial Resources
A state may by law authorise a Panchayat to levy, collect, and appropriate taxes, duties, tolls, fees etc. It can also assign to a Panchayat various duties, taxes etc. collected by the State Government. The grants-in-aid may be given to the Panchayats from the Consolidated Fund of the State.
Panchayat Finance Commissions:
Within one year from the commencement of the Constitution (73rd Amendment Act, 1992), constitute a Finance Commission, to review the financial position of the Panchayats and to make recommendations to the Governor.
Urban Local Bodies in India
In contemporary times, as urbanization has grown and at present, rapidly growing, the necessity of urban governance is inevitable, which too evolved gradually since British times and has taken a modern shape in post-independence times. With the 74th Amendment Act of 1992, the system of urban local governance has been constitutionally recognized.
Main Features of the 74th Amendment Act
1. There shall be constituted in every State, (a) a Nagar Panchayat (b) a Municipal Council for a smaller urban area; (c) a Municipal Corporation for a larger urban area.
2. All the seats in a Municipality shall be filled by persons chosen by direct election from the territorial constituencies in the Municipal area known as wards.
3. The Legislature of a State may, by law, provide the representation in a Municipality of persons having special knowledge or experience in Municipal administration;
members of the House of the People and the members of the Legislative Assembly of the State; members of the Council of States and the members of the Legislative Council; the Chairpersons of the Committees.
4. Constitution of ward committee
5. Seats shall be reserved for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in every Municipality
6. Not less than one-third of the total number of seats reserved shall be reserved for women belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
7. A State may, by law, endow the Municipalities with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as institutions of self-government
8. The Legislature of a State may, by law authorise a Municipality to levy, collect and appropriate such taxes, duties, tolls and fees.
9. There shall be constituted in every State at the district level a District Planning Committee to consolidate the plans prepared by the Panchayats and the Municipalities in the district and to prepare a draft development plan for the district as a whole.
10. The Legislature of a State may, by law, make provision with respect to the composition of the Metropolitan Planning Committees;
Types of Urban Local Bodies
1. Municipal Corporation
3. Notified Area Committee
4. Town Area Committee
5. Cantonment Board
7. Port trust
8. Special purpose agency
So, the introduction of the Panchayati Raj system was a good step in conveying the message of democracy to every village of the country.