Panchayati Raj

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Panchayati Raj

Ensures the direct participation of people at the grass root level.

In 1956, the National Development Council appointed a committee under Balwant Rai Mehta, which submitted its report in 1957 in which it recommended :

  • A 3 – tier structure consisting of Zila Parishad at the District Level, Panchayat Samiti at the Block Level and Gram Panchayat at the Village Level.
  • Genuine transfer of power & responsibility to these institutions.
  • Adequate resources to them.
  • All social & economic development programs channelized through these.

The 3 – tier system of Panchayat Raj was 1st adopted by Rajasthan ( Nagaur District ) on Oct 2, 1959.

This was followed by Andhra Pradesh, Bihar Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, UP & West Bengal.

Three Tier System

It envisages Panchayat at the village level, Panchayat Samitis at the block level & Zila Parishad at the district level.

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a. Village Panchayat

  • Consists of elected representatives of the people.
  • Membership varies from 5 – 31.
  • Seats reserved for SC, ST, women, etc.
  • Chairman is elected from among its members, known as ‘Sarpanch’.
  • The Panchayat is accountable for all its actions to the Gram Sabha, the general body of villagers.
  • Gram Sabha consists of all the adults residing within the jurisdiction of the Panchayat.
  • It exercises general supervision over the working of the Panchayat & lays down necessary guidelines for its working.

b. Block & Panchayat Samiti

  • The block, consisting of 20 – 60 villagers is administered through a Panchayat Samiti, consisting of indirectly elected members of village panchayat.
  • The chairman of Panchayat Samiti is called ‘Pradhan’.

c. Zila Parishad

  • It is the top level of the 3 – tier structure.
  • Elect its chairman from amongst its members who is known as the District Collector.

Ashok Mehta Committee

Appointed in Dec, 1977 by the Janta government

Submitted its report in 1978, which said :

  • Replacement of 3 – tier system by 2 – tier system consisting of Mandal Panchayats at the base ( consisting of a group of villages comprising a population of 15,000 to 20,000 ) & the Zila Parishad at the top.
  • To reduce the dependence of Panchayati Raj Institutions on State govt, by giving them powers to collect certain taxes like profession tax, entertainment tax, etc in their areas.
  • Suggested the setting up of Social Justice Committee in each Zila Parishad to protect the interests of vulnerable sections of society.
  • Favoured the open participation of political parties in the working of Panchayati Raj Institutions.

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In Dec, 1992 73rd constitutional amendment was passed to decentralize the power, down to village level. It said ( envisaged ) :

  • Panchayati Raj institutions to be constituted through direct elections, with reservation as well.
  • Fixed term of 5 yrs, & if dissolved earlier, elections must be held within 6 months.
  • They are authorized to make laws concerning economic & social development of villages. These have been listed in the eleventh schedule & comprise 29 subjects.

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