India has a long history and strong tradition of democratic institutions since ancient times. These institutions have been grounded on the prevailing social and political organisation of the local habitations.
The Panchayats, especially the village or Gram Panchayats have always played a vital role in day to day governance of the rural community. The Constitution of India also recognized it and the Article 40 of the Directive Principles of State Policy lays down that -“The State shall take steps to organize village panchayats and endow them with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as units of self-government”.
LOCAL SELF GOVERNMENT:
• The term “Local Government” or “Local-self government’ means the government by freely elected local bodies which are endowed with power, discretion and responsibility to be exercised and discharged by them, without control over their decisions by any other higher authority.
• Article 2+3 relating to definitions has defined various terms as follows: “District” means a district in a State; “Gram Sabha” means a body consisting of persons registered in the electoral rolls relating to a village comprised within the area of Panchayat at the village level; “Intermediate level’ means a level between the village and district specified by the Governor of a State by public notification to be the intermediate level for the purposes of this Part; “Panchayat” means an institution of self-government constituted under article 243B for the rural areas; “Panchayat Area” means the territorial area of a Panchayat; “Population” means the population as ascertained at the last preceding census of which the relevant figures have been published; “Village” means a village specified by the Governor by a public notification to be a village for the purposes of this Part and includes a group of villages so specified.
73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments:
73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments were passed by Parliament in December, 1992. Through these amendments local self-governance was introduced in rural and urban India. The Acts came into force as the Constitution (73rd Amendment) Act, 1992 on April 24, 1993 and the Constitution (74th Amendment) Act, 1992 on June 1, 1993. These amendments added two new parts to the Constitution, namely, 73rd Amendment added Part IX titled “The Panchayats” and 74th Amendment added Part IXA titled “The Municipalities”. The Local bodies-Panchayats’ and ‘Municipalities’ came under Part IX and IXA of the Constitution after 43 years of India becoming a republic.
Salient Features of the 73rd and 74th Constitution Amendment Acts Panchayat and Municipalities will be “institutions of self-government”
1. Basic units of democratic system Gram Sabha’s (villages) and Ward Committees (Municipalities) comprising all the adult members registered as voters.
2. Three-tier system of panchayat at village, intermediate block/taluk/mandal and district levels except in States with population is below 20 lakh 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. Onethird 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 Panchayat 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 Panchayat 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). lish a Finance Commission in each State to determine the principles on the basis of which adequate finance would be ensured for panchayats and municipalities (Article 243I)
73rd and 74th Amendments provide a broad guidelines to state for organizing the governance of urban local bodies.
• It ensures regular elections, devolution of finance, authority to collect tax and regular functions to such local bodies.
• They are a step towards realising Mahatma Gandhi’s dream of ‘GRAM SWARAJ’.
Local self government emphasis on 73rd and 74th Amendment
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