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Subject: Political Science

Project on:


Submitted To: Submitted By:

Dr. Monika Srivastava Vandana Verma

Assistant Professor B.A.LLB (Hons.), Sem-II

Political Science Section B, Roll No 161

I take this opportunity to express my profound gratitude and deep regards to my guide
Assistant Professor Dr. Monika Srivastava for her exemplary guidance, monitoring
and constant encouragement to give shape to this project. Guidance given by her time
to time shall carry me a long way in the journey of life on which I am about to

I also take this opportunity to express a deep sense of gratitude to my seniors who
share their cordial support, valuable information and guidance, which helped me in
completing this task through various stages.

Lastly, I thank the almighty, my parents, and friends for their constant encouragement
without which this project would not have been possible.












The Panchayati Raj in India generally refers to the system introduced by

constitutional amendment in 1992, although it is based upon the traditional panchayat

system of South Asia. The modern panchayati raj and its gram panchayats are not to
be confused with the extra-constitutional khap panchayats (or caste panchayats) found
in northern India. While the panchayati raj system was formalized in 1992, leading up
to that change, a number of Indian committees studied various ways of implementing
more decentralized administration.

Mahatma Gandhi advocated panchayati raj as the foundation of India's political

system, it would have been a decentralized form of government where each village
would be responsible for its own affairs. The term for such a vision was Gram Swaraj
("village self-governance"). Instead India developed a highly centralized form of
government. However, this has been moderated by the delegation of several
administrative functions to the local level, empowering elected gram panchayats.
There are significant differences between (1) the traditional panchayati raj system, (2)
that envisioned by Gandhi, and (3) the system formalized in India in 1992.

In India, the Panchayati Raj now functions as a system of governance in which gram
panchayats are the basic unit of local administration. The system has three levels:

Gram Panchayat (village level),

Mandal Parishad or Block Samiti or Panchayat Samiti (block level) and

Zila parishad (district level).

It was formalized in 1992 by the 73rd amendment to the Indian Constitution

Various Committees on Panchayati Raj:

Balwant Rai Mehta : 1957

V.T.Krishnammachari : 1960

Takhatmal Jain Study Group: 1966

Ashok Mehta Committee : 1977

G.V.K Rao committee :1985

Dr.L.M.Singhvi Committee:1986


The Balwant Rai Mehta Committee, headed by MP Balwant Rai Mehta, was a
committee appointed by the Government of India in January 1957 to examine the
working of the Community Development Programmed (1952) and the National
Extension Service (1953) and to suggest measures for their better working. The
recommendations of the committee were approved by NDC in January 1958 and this
set the stage for the launching of Panchayati Raj Institutions throughout the country.
The committee recommended the establishment of the scheme of democratic
decentralization which finally came to be known as Panchayati Raj. Establishment of
a 3-tier Panchayati Raj system - Gram Panchayat at the village level, Panchayat
Samiti at the block level, and Zila Parishad at the district level.

The panchayat raj system was first adopted by the state of Rajasthan in Nagaur district
on 2nd Oct 1959. The second state was Andhra Pradesh, while Maharashtra was the
Ninth state. This system was adopted by state governments during the 1950s and 60s,
as laws were passed to establish panchayats in various states. It also found backing in
the Indian Constitution, with the 73rd amendment in 1992 to accommodate the idea.
The Amendment Act of 1992 contains provision for devolution of powers and
responsibilities to the panchayats, both for the preparation of economic development
plans and social justice, as well as for implementation in relation to 29 subjects listed
in the eleventh schedule of the constitution.

The panchayats receive funds from three sources:

Local body grants, as recommended by the Central Finance Commission

Funds for implementation of centrally sponsored schemes

Funds released by the state governments on the recommendations of the State

Finance Commissions

In the history of Panchayati Raj, in India, on 24 April 1993, the Constitutional (73rd
Amendment) Act 1992 came into force to provide constitutional status to the
Panchayati Raj institutions. This act was extended to Panchayats in the tribal areas of
eight states, namely Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra,
Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Rajasthan starting 24 December 1996. Currently, the
Panchayati Raj system exists in all the states except Nagaland, Meghalaya and
Mizoram, and in all Union Territories except Delhi. The Balwant Rai Mehta
Committee was a committee appointed by the Government of India in January 1957
to examine the working of the Community Development Programmed (1952). The
Act aims to provide a 3-tier system of Panchayati Raj for all States having a
population of over 2 million, to hold Panchayat elections regularly every 5 years, to
provide seats reservations for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and women; to
appoint a State Finance Commission to make recommendations regarding the
financial powers of the Panchayats and to constitute a District Planning Committee, to
prepare a development plan draft for the district.

The 3-tier system of Panchayati Raj consists of:

Village-level Panchayat

Block-level Panchayats

District-level Panchayats.

Powers and responsibilities are delegated to panchayats at the appropriate level:

Preparation of the economic development plan and social justice plan.

Implementation of schemes for economic development and social justice in

relation to 29 subjects given in the Eleventh Schedule of the Constitution.

To levy and collect appropriate taxes, duties, tolls and fees.

Block Level Panchayat

A panchayat samiti (block panchayat) is a local government body at the tehsil level.
This body works for the villages of the tehsil that together are called a "development
block". The panchayat samiti is the link between the gram panchayat and the district
administration. Just as the "tehsil" goes by other names in various part of India,
notably "mandal" and "taluka", there are a number of variations in nomenclature for
the block panchayat. For example, it is known as "mandal praja parishad" in Andhra
Pradesh, "taluka panchayat" in Gujarat, "mandal panchayat" in Karnataka, and
"panchayat samiti" in Maharashtra. In general, the block panchayat has the same form
as the gram panchayat but at a higher level.


Membership in the block panchayat is mostly ex-official, it is composed of all of the

sarpanchas (gram panchayat chairmen) in the panchayat samiti area, the MPs and
MLAs of the area and the sub-district officer (SDO) of the subdivision, co-opt
members (representatives of the SC/ST and women), associate members (a farmer of
the area, a representative of the cooperative societies and one from marketing
services), and some elected members. The panchayat samiti is elected for a term of
five years and is headed by a chairman and a deputy chairman.


The common departments in the Samiti are as follows:

General administration


Public work




Social welfare

Information technology,

Water Supply Dept.

Animal Husbandry and others.

There is an officer for every department. A government appointed Block Development

Officer (BDO) is the executive officer to the Samiti and the chief of its
administration.BDO is responsible for his work to the CEO of ZP.


Implementation of schemes for the development of agriculture and


Establishment of primary health centres and primary schools.

Supply of drinking water, drainage and construction/repair of roads.

Development of cottage and small-scale industries, and the opening of

cooperative societies.

Establishment of youth organisations.

District Level Panchayat

The governing of the system of advance system at district level in Panchayat Raj is
also popularly known as "Zila Parishad". Chief of administration is an officer of the
IAS cadre.

Provide essential services and facilities to the rural population

Supply improved seeds to farmers. Inform them of new farming techniques

Set up and run schools and libraries in the rural areas

Start Primary Health Centers and hospitals in villages. Start vaccination drives
against epidemics

Execute plans for the development of the scheduled castes and tribes. Run
ashramshalas for adivasi children. Set up free hostels for them

Encourage entrepreneurs to start small-scale industries and implement rural

employment schemes

Construct bridges, roads & other public facilities and their maintenance

Provide employment

Sources of income

Taxes on water, pilgrimage, markets, and many more. Fixed grant from the State
Government in proportion with the land revenue and money for works and schemes
assigned to the Parishad.

Village Level Panchayat

A gram panchayat is a village level administrative body. It has a Sarpanch as its

elected head. The members of the Gram panchayat are elected for a period of five
years. The members of the Gram Panchayat are elected by the members of Gram

Reservation for women in PRIs in India

The Union Cabinet of the Government of India, on 27 August 2009, approved 50%
reservation for constitution 73rd Amendment and Panchayati Raj in India

The Indian states Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra
Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Orissa, Rajasthan
and Tripura have implemented 50% reservation for women in PRIs. Majority of
candidates in these Panchayats are women. Currently 100% of elected members in
Kodassery Panchayat in Kerala are Women.


The 73rd Amendment 1992 added a new Part IX to the constitution titled The
Panchayats covering provisions from Article 243 to 243(O); and a new Eleventh
Schedule covering 29 subjects within the functions of the Panchayats.

Significance of the Amendment

This amendment implements the article 40 of the DPSP which says that State shall
take steps to organise village panchayats and endow them with such powers and
authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as units of self-government
and have upgraded them from non-justifiable to justifiable part of the constitution and
has put constitutional obligation upon states to enact the Panchayati Raj Acts as per
provisions of the Part IX. However, states have been given enough freedom to take
their geographical, politico-administrative and others conditions into account while
adopting the Panchayati Raj System.

Salient Features

Gram Sabha: Gram Sabha is a body consisting of all the persons registered in
the electoral rolls relating to a village comprised within the area of Panchayat
at the village level. Since all the persons registered in electoral rolls are
members of Gram Sabha, there are no elected representatives. Further, Gram
Sabha is the only permanent unit in Panchayati Raj system and not constituted
for a particular period. Although it serves as foundation of the Panchayati Raj,
yet it is not among the three tiers of the same. The powers and functions of
Gram Sabha are fixed by state legislature by law.

Three Tiers of Panchayati Raj: Part IX provides for a 3 tier Panchayat system,
which would be constituted in every state at the village level, intermediate
level and district level. This provision brought the uniformity in the
Panchayati Raj structure in India. However, the states which were having
population below 20 Lakh were given an option to not to have the
intermediate level. All the members of these three level are elected. Further,
the chairperson of panchayats at the intermediate and district levels are
indirectly elected from amongst the elected members. But at the village level,
the election of chairperson of Panchayat (Sarpanch) may be direct or indirect
as provided by the state in its own Panchayati Raj Act.

Reservation in Panchayats: There is a provision of reservation of seats for SCs

and STs at every level of Panchayat. The seats are to be reserved for SCs and
STs in proportion to their population at each level. Out of the Reserved Seats,
1/3rd has to be reserved for the women of the SC and ST. Out of the total
number of seats to be filled by the direct elections, 1/3rd have to be reserved
for women. There has been an amendment bill pending that seeks to increase
reservation for women to 50%. The reserved seats may be allotted by rotation
to different constituencies in the Panchayat. The State by law may also
provide for reservations for the offices of the Chairpersons.

Duration of Panchayats: A clear term for 5 years has been provided for the
Panchayats and elections must take place before the expiry of the terms.
However, the Panchayat may be dissolved earlier on specific grounds in
accordance with the state legislations. In that case the elections must take
place before expiry of 6 months of the dissolution.

Disqualification of Members: Article 243F makes provisions for

disqualifications from the membership. As per this article, any person who is
qualified to become an MLA is qualified to become a member of the
Panchayat, but for Panchayat the minimum age prescribed is 21 years.
Further, the disqualification criteria are to be decided by the state legislature
by law.

Finance Commission: State Government needs to appoint a finance

commission every five years, which shall review the financial position of the
Panchayats and to make recommendation on the following: The Distribution
of the taxes, duties, tolls, fees etc. levied by the state which is to be divided
between the Panchayats. Allocation of proceeds between various tiers. Taxes,
tolls, fees assigned to Panchayats Grant in aids. This report of the Finance
Commission would be laid on the table in the State legislature. Further, the
Union Finance Commission also suggests the measures needed to augment the
Consolidated Funds of States to supplement the resources of the panchayats in
the states.

Powers and Functions of 11th Schedule: The state legislatures are needed to
enact laws to endow powers and authority to the Panchayats to enable them
functions of local government. The 11th schedule enshrines the distribution of
powers between the State legislature and the Panchayats. Further, the state
legislature can authorize the Panchayats to collect and appropriate suitable
local taxes and provide grant in aids to the Panchayats from the Consolidated
Funds of the states.

Audit of Accounts: State Government can make provisions for audit of

accounts of the Panchayats.

Elections: Article 243K enshrines the provisions with respect to elections of

the Panchayats. This article provides for constitution of a State Election
Commission in respect of the Panchayats. This State Election Commission
would have the power to supervise, direct and control the elections to the
Panchayats and also prepare the electoral rolls. The article maintains the
independence of the election commission by making provisions that the
election commissioner of this commissioner would be removed only by

manner and on same grounds as a Judge of the High Court. If there is a dispute
in the Panchayat elections, the Courts have NO jurisdiction over them. This
means that the Panchayat election can be questioned only in the form of an
election petition presented to an authority which the State legislature by law
can prescribe. (Important) The election commissioner for this reason is to be
appointed by the Governor. The terms and conditions of the office of the
Election commissioners have also to be decided by the Governor.

Applications to Union Territories : Provisions of Panchayats shall be

applicable to the UTs in same way as in case of the states but the President by
a public notification may make any modifications in the applications of any

Exempted areas and states: The provisions of part IX are not applicable to the
following: Entire states of Nagaland, Meghalaya and Mizoram Hill areas in
the State of Manipur for which District Councils Further, the district level
provisions shall not apply to the hill areas of the District of Darjeeling in the
State of West Bengal which affect the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council. The
reservation provisions are not applicable to Arunachal Pradesh.

Continuance of Existing Laws: Any provision of any law relating to

Panchayats in force in a State immediately before the commencement of the
Constitution (Seventy-third Amendment) Act, 1992, which is inconsistent with
the provisions of this Part, shall continue to be in force until amended or
repealed by a competent Legislature or competent authority. Bar on
Interference by Courts Article 243 O bars the courts to interfere in the
Panchayat Matters. The validity of any law relating to the delimitation of
constituencies or the allotment of seats to such constituencies cannot be
questioned in a court. No election to any Panchayat is to be questioned except
by an election petition presented to such authority and in such manner as
provided by the state legislature.


The positive impact of the 73rd Amendment in rural India is clearly visible as it has
changed power equations significantly. Elections to the Panchayats in most states are
being held regularly. Through over 600 District Panchayats, around 6000 Intermediate
Panchayats and 2.3 lakh Gram Panchayats, more than 28 lakh persons now have a
formal position in our representative democracy. Still, this bill lacks the proper
definition of the role of the bureaucracy. It does not clearly define the role of the state

government. On practical level, people are illiterate in India and they are actually not
aware of these novel features. The Panchayats are dominated by effluents in some
parts of the country. The 3 tiers of the Panchayati Raj have still very limited financial
powers and their viability is entirely dependent upon the political will of the states.


Illeteracy has been one of the most glaring stumbling blocks in achieving the laid
down goals of the new panchayati raj system. There is a fair chance that many of the
women responsibilities elected to all the three tiers of PRIs may be illiterate. Further,
several social handicaps, most of the females representatives of these institutions do
not feel at ease to visit the government offices for various works and their authority is
exercised by others.

Many States have not delegated the powers and functions to the PRIs in the true spirit
of 73rd Constitutional Amendment. Even if the functions have been delegated, the
required powers to execute the said functions are not with the PRIs. There is a general
reluctance on part of the bureaucrats and the ministers and MLAs to share their
existing powers and authority with the newly created PRIs. As a result, while on paper
the delegation has taken place, actually the PRIs are not in a position to perform the
assigned functions. In other words, the objective of empowerment of people and
women at the village-level not been achieved.

There is a general lack of man power in the PRIs, particularly at the village level with
a limited number of officials, even after the complete devolution of powers; it may
become difficult for the PRIs to look after all the works assigned to them by the State
government. Unless the PRIs are equipped with adequate staff to discharge their
functions, the objectives set forth under the 73rd amendment may not be achieved.

Approach Paper to the Tenth Five Year Plan, 2002-07 had dealt with the PRIs at the
great length. It observed that the objective of enhancement of participation and
empowerment at the village level was not achieved. It was also observed that the
excessive controls at the three tiers have rather been found to be counter-productive.
The Approach Paper has also made certain recommendation on the basis of
experience of the previous few years. Some of the important recommendations made
were enable the states for amending the Constitution, to abolish Block level or the
district level tier, as the excessive control is proving counter-productive.

Union finance Commission funds and other PRI development funds from the centre
may not be released to the states required orientation to the elected representatives so
that the let down objectives are achieved

Even the strategies opposed by the 11th plan revolve around:

Improving panchayat raj institutions

Strengthening the administrative machinery

Convergence of resources.

Alternated delivery mechanism.

Removing bottle necks in scheme guidelines.

Monitoring indicators for the 11th plan reflect on providing one electrified school
building in each village panchayat,1 library with books , 1 drinking water source in
each panchayat ,linking up SHGs that have obtained revolving fund with credit
assistance and increasing resources to the rural local bodies.

The above would reveal that the policy makers at the highest level are fully aware that
the goals of the empowerment have not been met fully and a serious thinking is
required to be done by the union as well as the state governments. But it would also
be wrong to conclude that the situation is hopeless. There are many success stories
and at many places female and SC/ST representative have done a wonderful job in the
PRIs. The objective of empowerment is not far from being achieved. But some
procedural and legislative changes may be necessary are the attitudinal changes.


Need to transfer all centrally sponsored schemes to state governments.

Panchayati Raj should have the power to raise their own resources to meet the
resource crunch.

They should hold periodic elections.

Need to delimit the role of bureaucracy to promote local leadership.

Need to constitute DPCs on the lines of MP.

Need to dismiss parallel bodies of center and the states.


The need of hour is a paradigm shift. Till now panchayati raj institution have been
taken as the third tier of development. Now it should be made the 1st tier of

In this age of LPG reformers have treated PRIs as a sideshow rather it should be made
the fulcrum of fulcrum of reform process. Hence, they will lose the status of toothless
tigers or papers tigers. Gandhijis dream of poorna swaraj via a gram swaraj would
become a reality.

Something has to be done and fast for at stake is strengthening of grassroots
democracy and providing opportunities to subaltern besides upholding the supremacy
of the constitution.