The Panchayati Raj System is the first tier or level of democratic government.
The term Panchayati Raj in India signifies the system of rural local self-government. It was constitutionalised through the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act of 1992.
The development of the village was the immediate problem faced by our country after independence. Hence the Community Development Programme was launched in 1952 with a view to carrying out the integral rural development work.
Rajasthan was the first state to set up Panchayati Raj System in 1959 followed by Andhra Pradesh.
Main Provisions of 73rd Amendment Act :
This act has added a new Part-IX to the Constitution of India. It is entitled as ‘The Panchayats’ and consists of provisions from Articles 243(A) to 243 (O). In addition, the act has also
added a new Eleventh Schedule to the Constitution. It contains 29 functional items of the panchayats.
Fixing tenure of five years for Panchayats at all levels and holding fresh elections withing six months in the event of supersession of any Panchayat.
Reservation of 1/3 seats (both members and chiarpersons) for women in Panchayats at all the levels.
The Act provides for a three-tier systerm of the Panchayati Raj in the states namely:
(i) Gram Panchayat at the Village level.
(ii) Panchayat Samiti at the Block level.
(iii) Zila Parishad at the District level.
Part IX of the Constitution mentions the compulsory
provisions for the Pachayati Raj Institutions:
Compulsory Provisions for Panchayati Raj Institutions :
1. Organisation of Gram Sabha in a village or group of villages.
2. Establishment of Panchayats at the village, intermediate and district levels.
3. 21 years to be the minimum age for contesting elections to Panchayats.
4. Reservation of seats (both members and chairpersons) for SCs and STs in Panchayats at all the three levels.
5. Reservation of one-third seats (both members and chairpersons) for women in Panchayats at all the three levels.
6. 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.
7. Establishment of a State Election Commission for conducting elections to the Panchayats.
8. Constitution of a State Finance Commission after every five years to review the financial position of the panchayats.
Organisational Struture :
(i) Gram Panchayat at the Village level
The members of the Gram Panchayat are elected by the Gram Sabha. The Pradhans (Presidents) of the Gram Sabha are the ex-officio members of the Gram Panchayat.
Note: Gram Sabha means a body consisting of persons registered in the electoral roles relating to a village comprised within the area of Panchayat at the village level.
(ii) Panchayat Samiti at the Block level The Panchayat Samiti has many Gram Panchayats under it. All the Presidents of the Panchayats within the Block are the ex officio members of the ‘Panchayat Samitis’.
(iii) Zila Parishad at the District level Zila Parishad is an apex body under the Panchayati Raj. It co-ordinates the activities of the various Panchayat Samitis. Zila Parishad actually makes developmental plans at the district level. With the help of Panchayat Samitis, it also regulates the money distribution among all the Gram Panchayats.
Committees on Panchayati Raj :
Balwant Rai Mehta Committee:
In January 1957, the Government of India appointed a committee to examine the functioning of the Community Development Programme (1952).
One of its major recommendations was a three-tier Panchayati Raj System.
Ashok Mehta Committee :
In December 1977, the Government of India appointed a committee on Panchayati Raj Institutions under the chiarmanship of Ashok Mehta.
It recommended the three-tier system of the Panchayati Raj should be replaced by a two-tier system.
LM Singhvi Committee :
? In 1986, Rajiv Gandhi Government appointed a committee on the ‘Revitalisation of Panchayati Raj Institutions for Democracy and Development under the chairmanship of L.M. Singhvi.
Urban Local Governance :
The term ‘Urban Local Government’ in India signifies the governance of an urban area by the people through their elected representatives. 74 th Amendment of 1992
This act has added a new Part IX-A to the Constitution of India. It consists of provisions from Articles 243-P to 243-ZG. In addition, the act has also added a new Twelfth Schedule to the Constitution.
The Amendment has added 18 new Articles relating to urban local bodies in the Constitution.
The institutions of self government are called by a general name “Municipalities”.
Three Types of Municipalities: The act provides for the constitution of the following three types of municipalities in every state:
A nagar panchayat for a transitional area, that is, an area in transition from a rural area to an urban area.
A municipal council for a smaller urban area.
A municipal corporation for a larger urban area.
Composition: All the members of a municipality shall be elected directly by the people of the municipal area. For this purpose, each municipal area shall be divided into territorial constituencies to be known as wards. The state legislature may provide the manner of election of the chairperson of a municipality.
Reservation of Seats: The act provides for the reservation of seats for the scheduled castes and the scheduled tribes in every municipality in proportion of their population to the total population in the municipal area. Further, it provides for the reservation of not less than one-third of the total number of seats for women (including the number of seats reserved for woman belonging to the SCs and the STs).
Duration of Municipalities: The act provides for a fiveyear term of office for every municipality. However, it can be dissolved before the completion of its term.
Powers and Functions: The state legislature may endow the municipalities with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as institutions of selfgovernment.
Major function of municipalities: The preparation and implementation of plans for economic development and social justice
Finances: The state legislature may (a) authorise a municipality to levy, collect and appropriate taxes, duties, tolls and fees; (b) assign to a municipality taxes, duties, tolls and fees levied and collected by state government; (c) provide for making grants-in-aid to the municipalities from the consolidated fund of the state.
District Planning Committee: Every state shall constitute, at the district level, a district planning committee to consolidate the plans prepared by panchayats and municipalities in the district.
Metropolitan Planning Committee: Every metropolitan area shall have a metropolitan planning committee to prepare a draft development plan. Types of urban government Municipal Corporation Municipal corporations are created for the administration of big cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bangalore and others. They are established in the states by the acts of the concerned state legislatures, and in the union territories by the acts of the Parliament of India.
A municipal corporation has three authorities, namely, the council, the standing committees and the commissioner. It consists of the councillors directly elected by the people. The council is headed by a mayor. He is assisted by a deputy mayor. He presides over the meetings of the council. The standing committees are created to facilitate the working of the council, which is too large in size.
The municipalities are established for the administration of towns and smaller cities. Like a municipal corporation, a municipality also has three authorities, namely, the council,
the standing committees and the chief executive officer.
It consists of the councillors directly elected by the people. The council is headed by a president/chairman. He is assisted by a vice-president/vice-chairman. He presides over the meetings of the council. The standing committees are created to facilitate the working of the council.