Panchayats (Part IX – Art 243)
A gram panchayat is the cornerstone of a local self-government organisation in India of the panchayati raj system at the village or small-town level and has a sarpanch as its elected head.
The failed attempts to deal with local matters at the national level caused, in 1992, the reintroduction of panchayats for their previously used purpose as an organisation for local self-governance. There are about 250,000 gram panchayats in India.
Gram panchayats are panchayats at base level in Panchayat Raj Institutions (or PRIs), governed by the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act, which is concerned with Rural Local Governments.
Composition of Panchyat
- Block level panchayat is only in states with population > 2 mm.
- Reservations for SCs and STs will be in proportion of their population. > 50% reservation ok. ≥ 33% seats be reserved for women.
- A state can make provisions by enacting state laws for similar reservations for the offices of chairpersons of gram panchayat and above levels. Reservations for other backward classes can be made at any level by state laws enacted by states.
- All members who are qualified to be chosen for state legislature qualify for panchayats apart from age where 21 years old is minimum for panchayat (25 years for MLA). Any dispute over qualification will be handled by an authority prescribed in state laws.
Also Read: Municipalities
Powers of Panchyat
- Their powers are as determined by states by enacting laws. 11th schedule (has 29 items) is merely recommendatory in nature.
- A state may by law empower panchayats to levy taxes. It may also assign some taxes / give grants.
Additional Panchyati Raj Institution (PRI) related bodies:
- State finance commission / Panchayat finance commission: Every 5 years a state finance commission will be appointed which reviews financial position of the panchayats and makes recommendations for – (a) distribution of taxes levied by states between state and panchayats. (b) state taxes to be assigned to panchayats. (c) grants to the panchayats from the consolidated fund of state. (d) allocation of resources among various panchayats at all levels. The commission’s report together with action taken shall be laid down before the legislature.
- Central Finance Commission: He will receive the recommendations of state finance commissions. Based on these recommendations, he will recommend the measures needed to augment the consolidated fund of a state to supplement the resources of PRIs in the state.
- State election commissioner: He is appointed by the governor. He can be removed only like a judge of High Court. He shall be bound by the state laws related to elections to PRIs. No court can interfere in matters of delimitation of constituencies, allotments of reserved seats etc.