The term Panchayati Raj in India signifies the system of rural local self-government. It has been established in all the states of India by the Acts of the state legislatures to build democracy at the grass-root level. It is entrusted with rural development. It was constitutionalized through the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act of 1992.
RAI MEHTA COMMITTEE- In January 1957, the Government of India appointed a committee to examine the working of the Community Development Programme (1952) and the National Extension Service (1953) and to suggest measures for their better working. The chairman of this committee was Balwant Rai G Mehta. The committee submitted its report in 1957 and recommended the establishment of the scheme of democratic decentralization which ultimately came to be known as Panchayati Raj.
Rajasthan was the first state to establish Panchayati Raj. The scheme was inaugurated by the prime minister on October 2, 1959, in Nagaur District. Andhra Pradesh succeeded Rajasthan, which also adopted the system in 1959. Thereafter, most of the states adopted the system.
Though most of the states created Panchayati raj institutions by the mid-1960s. There were differences among states concerning the number of tiers, the relative position of Samiti and Parishad, their tenure, composition, functions, finances, and so on. For example. Rajasthan adopted the three-tier system while Tamil Nadu adopted the two-tier system. Further, in the Rajasthan- Andhra Pradesh Pattern, panchayat Samiti was powerful as the block was the unit of planning and development, while in the Maharashtra-Gujarat pattern, Zila Parishad was powerful as the district was the unit of planning and development.
Ashok Mehta Committee- In December 1977, the Janata Government appointed a committee on Panchayati raj institutions under the chairmanship of Ashok Mehta. It submitted its report in August 1978 and made 132 recommendations to revive and strengthen the declining Panchayati raj system in the country.
73rd Amendment Act of 1992 – This act has added a new Part- IX to the Constitution of India. This part is entitled ‘The Panchayats’ and consists of provisions from articles 243 to 243 O . In addition, the act has also added a new Eleventh Schedule to the constitution. This schedule contains 29 functional items of the panchayats.
The act has given a practical shape to Article 40 of the constitution which says 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”. This article forms a part of Directive Principles of State Policy.
The basic features discussed in the act are – Gram Sabha, Three- Tier system, Election of Members and Chairpersons, Duration of panchayats, Reservation of seats, Disqualifications, State Election Commission, Powers and Functions, Finances, and Audit of Accounts.
- Unscientific distribution of functions.
- Incompatible relation between the three tiers.
- Inadequate Finance.
- Lack of conceptual clarity
- Lack of cordial relations between officials and people.
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