It is very essential to have local self-government for the real development of the country because local levels are the real areas where the policies and programs are to be executed and where the government will come to know the problems and issues in the existing policies etc. Therefore, India also brought local government through the 73rd and 74th Amendment Acts of the Constitution which includes both - the Panchayats and the Municipalities.
Here, In this article, we will talk about the Panchayats. We will learn about the development of Panchayati Raj, the Gram Panchayat system, functions of Panchayat, how village panchayat works, the Gram Panchayat definition, the difference between Gram Sabha and Gram Panchayat, Panchayat Samiti, Zila Parishad, and other related things. We hope these notes will help you to understand the basic unit of democracy.
Development of Panchayati Raj
Various committees have been formed to discuss the local governments or the Panchayat Raj system. For example Balwant Rai Mehta Committee and Ashok Mehta Committee. During the period of P.V. Narsimha Rao, 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act was passed by the Parliament in 1992 along with the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act also which added Part IX i.e The Panchayats and Part IX-A i.e. The Municipalities respectively.
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Gram Sabha is the largest as well as the primary body of the Panchayati Raj system. It is a permanent body mentioned in Article 243(b) of the Constitution of India. It is a group that is created for the welfare of the village which consists of people who are voters of that village. There can be one village or more than one village in a Gram Sabha.
The person who fulfills the following conditions can be the part of Gram Sabha:
It includes those persons who are more than 18 years of age and living in the village whose name is also written in the electoral roll of the village panchayat.
Powers and Functions
As per the Indian Constitution, The Gram Sabha exercises its functions and has powers as decided and Provided by the legislature of that state. The various powers and functions of the Gram Sabha are as follows:
Implementation of the development schemes and programs of the village panchayat.
It also identifies the beneficiaries of the various programs and schemes. If they fail to do so, then this task is done by the Gram Panchayat.
It requests support from the people of the village in various welfare schemes and programs in the form of cash or kind or both.
It supports the various mass education and family welfare programs and schemes.
It considers matters relating to levy of taxes or charges, etc., or any other matter referred by the Gram Panchayat.
Hierarchy of Panchayati Raj System
India follows the three-tier structure of the Panchayati Raj in the country i.e at the village level, intermediate level, and district level. These are discussed below:
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At the Village Level
At the village level, we have seen that Gram Sabha is a permanent and primary body which is headed by the Gram Panchayat. The Gram Panchayat is a temporary body that takes all the village responsibilities.
The whole village is divided into various wards and the representative of each ward is chosen who is called Panch or Ward Member. The head of the Panchayat is called the Sarpanch who is elected by the Gram Sabha. Thus, Gram Panchayat consists of all the Panch and Sarpanch who are elected for a term of 5 years. Besides these, there is one secretary also who is not elected like these members but appointed by the Government and this secretary is also a secretary of Gram Sabha and he calls all the meetings of the Gram Sabha and the Gram Panchayat and also keeps records of these meetings.
Functions of the Gram Panchayat
The main function of the Gram Panchayat is to implement and execute the various government schemes and programs.
Identifying the beneficiaries of various schemes and programs in case Gram Sabha fails to do so.
Levying and collection of local taxes.
Construction as well as maintenance of the public property in the village-like roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, etc.
At Intermediate Level
At the intermediate level, there is Panchayat Smiti which is also called Anchalik or Janpad or Block Panchayat. The intermediate level is also called the block level. Here, it is looked after by the Block Development Officer ( BDO ) who has a number of villages under him. There is no need for an intermediate level in the States having a population of fewer than 20 lakhs as per Article 243B of the Constitution of India.
At District Level
At this level, there is Zila Parishad. All the Block development officers of the state are answerable to the Zila Parishad. All the development plans are made by the Zila Parishad at the District levels with the help of Panchayat Samiti.
As per Article 243 ( C ) ( 2 ) of the Constitution of India, all the seats are filled with direct elections at all levels.
Seats of SCs and STs are reserved as per their proportion of the population.
⅓ seats are reserved for women and ⅓ of all the seats reserved for SCs and STs are also reserved for women.
Difference Between Gram Sabha and Gram Panchayat
The difference between the two bodies are given below: