What was 73rd Amendment Act? What are the objectives and Constitutional Provisions of the Panchayati Raj? What are the salient features of Panchayati Raj? Read here to know more about Panchayati Raj.
Panchayati Raj is the oldest system of local government in the Indian subcontinent. Panchayati Raj Institutions as local government units have existed in India for a long time.
However, it was only in 1992 officially established by the Indian Constitution as the third level of India’s federal democracy through the 73rd Amendment Act.
Although the Rajiv Gandhi and VP Singh governments attempted to grant the PRI constitutional status, Narasimha Rao’s administration was the only one to succeed thanks to the adoption of the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act.
What is the 73rd amendment act? (Panchayati Raj)?
The 73rd Amendment Act was enacted by the Indian national government in 1992 to address these issues and improve local self-governance. Both houses agreed on the legislation, and it became law on April 24th, 1993.
The 73rd Amendment envisages the Gram Sabha as the foundation of the Panchayat Raj System to perform functions and powers entrusted to it by the State Legislatures.
A three-tier Panchayat Raj System at the village, intermediate, and district levels is provided by the amendment. With the help of this clause, India’s Panchayati Raj system became uniform. At every level of the Panchayat, there is a provision for the reservation of seats for SCs and STs.
Objectives of the 73rd Amendment Act
- The 73rd Amendment Act’s primary goal was to democratically decentralise authority and resources from the centre to locally elected officials in order to increase citizen participation in governance.
- Its goal relates to Article 40 of the constitution, which calls for the state to set up village panchayats and give them the requisite authority and powers to function as self-governing entities.
Constitutional Provisions of Panchayati Raj
- Through this amendment, the constitution gained the 11th schedule, which listed 29 Panchayat-related topics.
- Additionally, Part IX, which included provisions from Articles 243 to 243 O, was introduced to the Constitution by this measure.
- The state governments were now required by this modification to implement the new Panchayati Raj system in conformity with the act’s stipulations.
Salient features Panchayati Raj
1. Gram Sabha:
- It is a village assembly consisting of all the registered voters in the area of a panchayat.
- It can perform such functions as the state legislature entrusts it with
2. Three-tier system:
- It suggests PRI at the village, intermediate and district levels. Thus, bringing uniformity to the PRI.
- However, states having a population of less than 20 lakh may not setup PRI
- All the members at the village, intermediate and district levels shall be elected directly by the people.
- The chairperson of the intermediate and district level shall be indirectly elected chairman of the panchayat shall be elected in such a manner as the state legislature provides for
4. Reservation of seats:
- In every Gram Panchayat, seats must be set aside for members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The percentage of these seats to the total number of seats in the Panchayat that will be filled through direct election must be as close to equal as possible.
- Women from Scheduled Castes or, where applicable, Scheduled Tribes must have access to at least one-third of the seats that are set aside for them.
- Not less than one-third (including the number of seats reserved for women belonging to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes) of the total number of seats to be filled by direct election in every Gram Panchayat shall be reserved for women and such seats may be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in a Gram Panchayat in such manner as may be prescribed.
- The above reservation is provided for the position of chairperson tooThe act also authorizes the legislature of the state to make any reservations for backward classes
5. Duration of Panchayats:
- Every level of panchayat is given a five-year term of office under the statute. PRI, however, may be dissolved prior to the end of the natural term.
- Before the PRI’s natural term expires or, in the event of its dissolution, before a period of six months has passed since that date, new elections must be held.
6. Qualification & Disqualification:
- A person shall be disqualified for being chosen as or for being a member of the panchayat if he is so disqualified:
- Under any law for the time being in force for the purpose of elections to the legislature of the state concerned.
- No person can be disqualified on the ground that he is less than 25 years of age if he has attained the age of 21 years.
- All questions related to disqualification shall be referred to such authority as the state legislature determines.
7. State election commission:
- The state election commission shall be in charge of overseeing, directing, and controlling the creation of electoral rolls and the conduct of all panchayat elections.
- The governor will name a state election commissioner. He cannot be dismissed from his position other than in the way and for the reasons specified for dismissing a judge.
- The state legislature has the authority to establish rules on all aspects of panchayat elections.
8. Powers and functions:
- The state legislature may endow the panchayats with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as institutions of self-government.
- The state legislature may authorize a panchayat to levy, collect and appropriate taxes, provide for making grants-in-aid to the panchayats, provide for the constitution of funds for crediting all money of the panchayats.
10. Finance Commission:
- The governor has the authority to establish an annual finance commission to review the panchayats’ financial standing, recommend improvements, and make recommendations on any other issues the governor refers to the commission.
- It shall make recommendations on the following matters:
- The distribution between the state and the panchayats from the net proceeds of taxes
- Determination of taxes, duties, tolls and fees that may be assigned to the panchayats
- Grants-in-aid to the panchayats from the consolidated fund of the state
- The state legislature will establish the FC’s composition and qualifications.
- Based on the state’s finance commission’s findings, the central finance commission will also provide recommendations on how to consolidate the panchayat’s financial situation.
- The state legislature may provide the manner for auditing PRI.
12. Application to UT:
- The president of India may direct that provisions of this act shall apply to any union territory subject to such modification as he may specify.
13. Exempted areas:
- It does not apply to Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya, scheduled areas and the tribal areas, hill area of Manipur, and Darjeeling district of WB.
- However, parliament may extend the provisions of this part to even these exempted areas with modifications as it may specify.
- In this regard, parliament has enacted, ‘The provisions of the Panchayat (Extension to the scheduled areas) Act, 1996.
14. Bar to interference of court:
- The act bars the interference by courts in the electoral matters of panchayats. It also mentions the delimitation related to PRI cannot be questioned by the court.
- Even election petitions shall be entertained based on such mechanism as specified by the state legislature.
15. 11th schedule:
- The Act inserted a new schedule which contained areas that come under the purview of the PRI.
Result of the 73rd Amendment (Panchayati Raj)
Local self-government in the nation has significantly improved as a result of the 73rd Amendment’s passage.
The central government chose to recognise April 24 as National Panchayati Raj Day every year in 2010 to commemorate this and further bolster the institutions.
The Gram Panchayat (at the village level), the Mandal Parishad/Panchayat Samiti/Block Samiti (at the block level), and the Zila Parishad are the three levels at which the formalised Panchayati raj operates today (at the district level).
This amendment is based on the Gandhian Principle of the DPSP, which advocated for decentralised democracy, or the idea that individuals should make their own decisions. Gandhiji advocated the third level of government that can understand the problems of the people of the village at the grassroots level.
If we would see our dream of Panchayat Raj, i.e., true democracy realized, we would regard the humblest and lowest Indian as being equally the ruler of India with the tallest in the land.— Mahatma Gandhi
Article written by: Aseem Muhammed