(IGP) GS Paper 1 - Indian Polity & Governance - "Panchayati-Raj Institutions"

Integrated Guidance Programme of General Studies for IAS (Pre)

Subject - Indian Polity & Governance
Chapter : Panchayati-Raj Institutions

Panchayati-Raj Institution

  • Government enacted the 73rd Constitution Amendment Act, which was passed by Parliament in 1992 and became effective from 24th April 1993 after the required number of State Legislatures ratified the same.
  • Act added Part - IX to the Constitution of India. It is entitled as ‘The Panchayats’ and consists of provisions from articles 243 to 243-O. The Act gave Constitutional shape and teeth to Article 40 of the Constitution.Mandatory and Discretionary Powers

Mandatory and Discretionary Powers

The Act mandatory (compulsory) and discretionary (voluntary) provisions: The distinction between the two is that mandatory provisions contain the word “shall”. In the discretionary provisions, on the other hand, the word “may” is used.

Important mandatory provisions are:

The establishment in every state (except those with populations below 2 million) of panchayats at the village, intermediate and district levels (Article 243B)

  • direct, elections to all- seats in the panchayats (lowest elective tier) at all levels (Article 243 C)
  • compulsory elections to panchayats every five years
  • If a panchayat is dissolved prematurely, elections must be held within six months, with the newly elected members serving the remainder of the five year term (Article 243E)
  • reservation of seats in all panchayats at all levels for SC/ST (Article 243D)
  • reservation of one—third of all seats in all panchayats at all levels for women, with the reservation for women applying to the seats reserved for SC/STs (Article 243D)
  • indirect elections to the position of panchayat chairperson at the intermediate and district levels (Article 243C)
  • reservation of the position of panchayat chairperson at all levels for SC/STs in proportion to their share in the state population (Article 243D)
  • reservation of one-third of the positions of chairperson at all three levels for women (Article 243D)

Following are the discretionary provisions:

  • Transfer of powers and functions to Gram Sabha.
  • Mode of election of chairperson of a panchayat at village level.
  • Reservation of OBCs.
  • To decide the taxes, duties, tolls and fees for which a panchayat shall be authorised.
  • To make provision for maintenance of accounts and auditing of panchayats.

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  • Panchayati Raj is a three-tier structure of democratic institutions at district, block and village levels namely, Zila Prishad, Panchayat Samiti and Village Panchayats respectively; is a system of local self government aimed at securing gramswaraj; is based on the philosophy of decentralization ; enables pail participative governance; is a suitable institutional arrangement for achieving rural development through people’s initiative.
  • Panchayats as local self government institutions and vehicles of development have been part of the Indian system of governance since ancient times.

Lord Ripon’s Resolution on local self-government laid the foundation of local self- government in rural India. The 1882 Resolution was important for two reasons

  • it set out general principles for development of local institutions in the future and
  • provided the rationale behind functions of local bodies.

Balwant Rai Mehta Committee (1957)

  • Balwant Rai Mehta Committee (1957) was set up to review the working of the CD programme. It observed that lack of - people’s participation stands at the root of the failure of the CD programme.
  • It suggested ‘democratic decentralization’ and village reconstruction through the introduction of a three tier system of panchayats. The committee felt that democratic government composed of controlled and directed by popular representation of the local areas is necessary the local level. The Report strongly recommended that training requirements of Panchayat personnel should be given high priority.

Ashok Mehta Committee

  • Ashok Mehta Committee to review and report on the PR1s. It suggested change in the Balwant Rai Mehta pattern of PRIs. The three- tier system of PRIs was to be replaced by a two- tier i.e. Zilla Parishad at the district level and Mandal Panchayat (consisting of a number of villages) below it; five year term should not be cut short; district should be the first point of decentralization; etc.

G.V.K. Rao Committee

G.V.K. Rao Committee- was set up by the Planning Commission in 1985. It recommended for the revival of Panctiayati Raj institutions and highlighted the need to transfer powers to democratic bodies at the local level. The two important suggestions that this committee made were:

  • That the ‘district’ should be the basic unit of planning and programme implementation and
  • Zilla Parishad could, therefore, become the principal body for the management of all development programmes which can be handled at that level.

L.M. Singhvi Committee

  • The Government of India set up in 1986 L.M. Singhvi Committee to prepare a concept paper on the revitalisation of the Panchayati Raj institutions. It recommended that the Panchayati Raj should be constitutionally recognised, protected and preserved, by the inclusion of a new chapter in the Constitution.

Gram Sabha

  • Gram Sabha means a body consisting of the electorate of the village
  • Intermediate level means a level between the village and district levels
  • specified by the Governor of a State by public notification

Art. 243A

  • Art. 243A says that the powers exercised by and the functions performed by Gram Sabha are devolved to them by State Legislature. Gram Sabha has the responsibility to take decisions in common public interest, and to monitor the performance of elected representatives and government officials.

Art. 244 H and 243-I

Art. 244 H and 243-I deal with the financial provisions. Art. 243-I says that the Legislature of a State may:

  • Authorize a Panchayat to levy, collect and appropriate such taxes, duties, tolls and fees in accordance with such procedure and subject to such limits;
  • assign to a Panchayat such taxes, duties, tolls and fees levied and collected by the State Government for such purposes and subject to such conditions and limits;

Art. 244

  • Art. 244 deals with Constitution of Finance Commission to review financial position of i.e. Panchayats: The Governor of a State shall, 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.

State Finance Commission

  • Its composition, qualifications of its members and the manner in which they shall be selected; and functions of the Commission are laid down by law by the State Legislature.

Art. 243K

  • Art. 243K relates to elections to the Panchayats
  • The superintendence, direction and control of the preparation of electoral rolls for, and the conduct of, all elections to the Panchayats shall be vested in a State Election Commission consisting of a State Election Commissioner to be appointed by the Governor.

District Planning Committees (DPSc)

  • DPCs should be constituted as per Article 243 ZD in all states except Jammu & Kashmir, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and the NCT of Delhi. All states must accordingly enact legislations for constitution of the DPCs and issue notifications bringing them into effect.


  • The DPC is generally composed of elected members of the local bodies within the district, both rural and urban, as well as some nominated members.
  • The number of members varies with the population size of the districts larger the population, more the members.
  • The ratio of members from Panchayats and ULBs is based on the ratio in which the population of the district is divided between rural and urban areas

Functions, Role and Responsibilities of DPCs

  • The DPC is envisaged to play a nodal role in the district planning process by consolidating rural and urban plans prepared by the villages and towns in the district and then preparing a draft development plan for the district on the basis of the plans so received from within the district:

Consolidation of rural and urban plans

  • Consolidation of rural and urban plans is one of the key tasks of the DPC and is also of great significance in the light of urban expansion into rural areas.


  • The Parliament passed Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 to extend the provisions of the 73rd Constitutional Amendment to the Schedule V Areas of the country.
  • The Fifth Schedule covers Tribal areas (scheduled areas) in 9 states of India namely Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Orissa and Rajasthan.
  • Bihar had Scheduled Areas before the formation of Jharkhand but after the bifurcation, the tribal population in Bihar is insignificant.

PESA came into force in 1996. Under the Act, the Gram Sabha has been vested with powers for

  • Ownership of minor forest produce
  • Development, plans approval
  • Selection of beneficiaries’ under various programmes
  • Consultation on land acquisition
  • Manage minor water bodies
  • Control mineral leases

Panchayatraj and Rural Development

  • PRIs which are local self government institutions enable rural development planning in an effective way.
  • The momentum to empowers PRIs and give them Constitutional status began after the JRY programme was started.
  • MNREGA is being implemented by the Panchayats.
  • Panchayats have a critical role in the operationalization of the NRHM.
  • PRI participation can he achieved through the following, stages.
  • Participation in decision making
  • Participation in implementation of development programmes and projects;
  • Participation in monitoring and evaluation of development programmes;
  • Participation in sharing the benefits of development
  • Participation in the popularization of the programme

For Detail Description, Analysis and More MCQs of the Chapter Buy this Study Notes:

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