The Panchayats functions and responsibilities with special reference to 73rd and 74th Constitutional amendments

The 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Acts, 1992, which gave Constitutional status to panchayati raj institutions (PRIs) and urban local bodies (ULBs) respectively, in both letter and spirit in order to bring about greater decentralisation and increase the involvement of the community in planning and implementing schemes and, thus, increase accountability.

The Amendments left important matters such as implementation, service delivery (including local capacity building) and transfer of responsibilities and powers to rural local bodies at the discretion of the state legislatures. Consequently, while expenditure responsibilities of local bodies are extensively enhanced, there is no law to ensure a corresponding assignment of funds to match the additional responsibilities.

Panchayats and Municipalities will be “institutions of self-government”.

1. Basic units of democratic system-Gram Sabhas (villages) and Ward Committees (Municipalities) comprising all the adult members registered as voters.

2. Three-tier system of panchayats at village, intermediate block/taluk/mandal and district levels except in States with population is below 20 lakhs (Article 243B).

3. Seats at all levels to be filled by direct elections [Article 243C (2)].

4. Seats reserved for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) and chairpersons of the Panchayats at all levels also shall be reserved for SCs and STs in proportion to their population.

5. One-third of the total number of seats to be reserved for women. One third of the seats reserved for SCs and STs also reserved for women. One-third offices of chairpersons at all levels reserved for women (Article 243D).

6. Uniform five year term and elections to constitute new bodies to be completed before the expiry of the term. In the event of dissolution, elections compulsorily within six months (Article 243E).

7. Independent Election Commission in each State for superintendence, direction and control of the electoral rolls (Article 243K).

8. Panchayats to prepare plans for economic development and social justice in respect of subjects as devolved by law to the various levels of Panchayats including the subjects as illustrated in Eleventh Schedule (Article 243G).

9. 74th Amendment provides for a District Planning Committee to consolidate the plans prepared by Panchayats and Municipalities (Article 243ZD).

10. Funds: Budgetary allocation from State Governments, share of revenue of certain taxes, collection and retention of the revenue it raises, Central Government programmes and grants, Union Finance Commission grants (Article 243H).

11. Establish a Finance Commission in each State to determine the principles on the basis of which adequate financial resources would be ensured for panchayats and municipalities (Article 243I).

 

The civic functions relating to sanitation, cleaning of public roads, drains and ponds, public toilets and lavatories, primary health care, vaccination, supply of drinking water, constructing public wells, street lighting, social health and primary and adult education, etc. are obligatory functions of village panchayats. The optional functions depend on the resources of the panchayats. They may or may not perform such functions as tree plantation on road sides, setting up of breeding centres for cattle, organising child and maternity welfare, promotion of agriculture, etc.

The State Finance Commissions are required to recommend financial support from the state and principles for determination of taxes, tolls and fees that could be assigned to or appropriated by the local bodies

Article 243I of the Indian Constitution prescribes that the Governor of a State shall, as soon as may be within one year from the commencement of the Constitution (Seventy-third Amendment) Act, 1992, and thereafter at the expiration of every fifth year, constitute a Finance Commission to review the financial position of the Panchayats and to make recommendations to the Governor as to

The principles which should govern

  1. The distribution between the State and the Panchayats of the net proceeds of the taxes, duties, tolls and fees leviable by the State, which may be divided between them under this Part and the allocation between the Panchayats at all levels of their respective shares of such proceeds;
  2. The determination of the taxes, duties, tolls and fees which may be assigned as, or appropriated by, the Panchayats;
  3. The grants-in-aid to the Panchayats from the Consolidated Fund of the State;
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