The Gist of Kurukshetra: April 2014
Panchayati Raj – Three Tier System in India
The Panchayati Raj is a South Asian Political system mainly
in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. The world “Panchayat” literally means
“assembly” of five wise and respected elders chosen and accepted by the local
Panchayati Raj is a system of governance in which gram
Panchayats are the basic units of administration. Mahatma Gandhi advocated
Panchayati Raj, a decentralized form of government. It is the oldest system of
local government in the Indian sub continent. 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 Indian constitution with the 73rd
Amendment 1992 to accommodate the idea. In the history of Panchayati Raj in
India, on 24th April, 1993, the constitution (73rd Amendment) Act 1992 came into
force to provide constitutional status to the Panchayati Raj institutions.
The Three-Tier System of Panchayati Raj in India
The states of Goa, Jammu and Kashmir, Mizoram, Meghalaya,
Nagaland and Sikkim have two-tier Panchayats – one at the village level and the
second at the zila or District level. In all other states Panchayati Raj is a
three-tier system-village as first level, block or janapad as second level and
zila or district as the third level.
Village is the basic unit of Panchayati Raj Institutions. It
is generally a revenue unit. The unit of local government here is called village
Panchayat. In the structure of the Panchayati Raj, the village Panchayat is the
lowest unit. The Panchayat chiefly consists of representatives elected by the
people of the village.
Only the persons who are registered as voters and do not hold
any office of profit under the government are eligible for election to the
Panchayat. The persons convicted by the court for criminal offences are
disqualified from election of the Panchayat.
There is also provision for co-option of two women and one member of the
Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, if they do not get adequate
representation in the normal course.
The Panchayat as a body is accountable to the general body of
the village known as Gram Sabha which meets at least twice a year. The Gram
Panchayat must present its budget, accounts of the previous year and annual
administrative report before the Gram Sabha. Furthermore, it has to secure the
latter’s approval of the village production plan, proposals for taxation and
development programmes before they are enforced by the Panchayat.
Every Panchayat elects a president or Sarpanch and a
Vice-President or Up-Sarpanch. The Sarpanch occupies a pivotal position in gram
Panchayat system. He supervises and coordinates the various activities of the
Panchayat. The Panchayat secretary and the village level worker are the two
officers at the Panchayat level to assist the Sarpanch in administration
1. Mandatory Function: Sanitation, conservancy and
drainage, prevention of public nuisances, drinking water, construction and
maintenance of village roads, public buildings, registration of births and
deaths, maintenance of cremation and burial grounds, rural electrification,
poverty alleviation programme, preparation of annual budget and development
plans, construction and maintenance of cattle sheds, ponds etc. social farm
forestry, fuel and fodder, slaughter focuses, public parks and playgrounds,
agriculture, poultry and fisheries etc.
2. Discretionary Functions: Agriculture, animal
husbandry and dairy development, minor irrigation, small scale industries,
housing, electricity and non-conventional energy, rural development programmes,
education cultural affairs and heritage, public health etc.
Source of Revenue
A gram Panchayat fund has been created on the pattern of
consolidated fund of the state. All money received by the Gram Panchayat like
contribution of grants made by the State Government, Union Government, Zila
Parishad and all sums received by the Panchayat in the form of taxes, rates,
duties, fees, loans, fines and penalties, compensation, court decree, sale
proceeds and income from Panchayat etc. go into that fund. Village Panchayats
have been empowered to levy taxes of fees on subjects like houses and buildings,
professions, trades, callings and employments, fees on registration of vehicles,
fairs and meals, sanitary arrangement, water, tax, lighting tax, tax on sale of
Block or Union is the second or intermediate level of local
self government in rural India. It has been named differently in different
states. In Andhra Pradesh, it is known as Mandal Parishad, in Assam, it is known
as Anchalik Panchayat, in Bihar, Jharkhand, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Tripura,
West Bengal, Maharashtra, Orissa, Punjab and Rajasthan t is known as Panchayat
Samiti ad so on.
Usually, a Panchayat Samiti consists of 20 to 60 villages depending on area
and population. The Panchayat Samiti generally consists of the following:
1. About twenty members elected by and from the Panches of all the Panchayats
falling in the block area.
2. Two women members and one member each from the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled
Tribes to be co-opted.
3. Two local persons possessing experience of public administration, which may
be beneficial for the rural development.
4. Representatives of the co-operatives working within the jurisdiction of the
5. One representative elected by and form the members of each small municipality
lying within the geographical limits of a block.
6. The members of the State and Union legislatures representing the area are to
be taken as associate members.
The President of the Panchayat Samiti is the Pradhan, who is elected by an
electoral college consists of all members of the Panchayat Samiti and all the
Panchas of the Gram Panchayat falling within the panchas areas.
Besides the Pradhan, the Up-pradhan is also elected. The
Pradhan convenes and presides over the Panchayats in making plans and carrying
out production programmes. He ensures the implementation of the decision and
resolutions of the Samiti and its standing committees. He exercises
administrative control over the Vikas Adhikari (BDO) and his staff. He is a
member of the Zila Parishad by virtue of his office as a Pradhan. He is the
ex-officio chairman of the standing committees of the Samiti.
As the Chief Executive Officer of the Panchayat Samiti, the
Block Development Officer is entrusted with the responsibility for implementing
the resolutions of the Samiti and its Standing Committees. He prepares the
budget of the Samiti and places it before the Samiti for approval. Preparing the
annual report of the Samiti and sending it to the Zila Parishad and State
Government also comes within the purview of his responsibility. He is
accountable to the president of the Samiti for his action.
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