Balwantrai Mehta committee recommended democratic decentralisation in 1957. Ashok Mehta committee 1977 to sought to revive this system. GVK Rao committee 1985 was appointed by the planning commission to strengthen and revitalise the panchayati raj system.

Finally the constitution amendment passed in 1992 [73 rd amendment] by Narasimhan Rao government added eleventh schedule to the constitution. 29 items have been placed in domain of panchayats.


Features of this amendment:

A.    Gram Sabha [village assembly]: Comprises all registered voters in the area of the panchayat. It can have powers and duties as the state legislature determines.

B.     Three tier system: At village-intermediate-district level in all districts of the country. However for states having population less than 20 lakh may not have intermediate level.

C.     Elections: All members’ at all three tiers shall be directly elected by the people. Chairpersons at top two tiers shall be indirectly elected by elected members at those tiers. State legislatures can make provision for election of chairperson at village level.

D.    Reservation of seats: at all levels reservation for seats shall be made for SC, ST, and Women. Also seat of chairperson too shall be reserved for them at all levels.

E.     Duration: All three tiers panchayats shall have 5 year term. But it can be dissolved earlier too. elections must be held within 6 months of dissolution but new panchayats shall be in power only for remainder of term of original panchayats had it not been dissolved. Also re-elections not needed if the period of power is less than 6 months.

F.      Qualifications: Candidate should be above 21 yrs. he / she shouldn’t be disqualified from participating in elections by any law of centre or state.

G.    State election commission shall be created with an election commissioner appointed by the governor. However he can be removed by following procedure for removal of state high court judge. SEC shall handle preparation of electoral rolls and conduction of elections.

H.    State legislature can endow the panchayati system with powers and duties as may be necessary to enable them to function as institutions of self government.

I.       State finance commission shall be appointed by the governor every 5 years to decide

a.       Principle for distribution of net proceeds of taxes between state and panchayats.

b.      grants in aid to panchayats from state consolidated fund

c.       determination of taxes that can be assigned to panchayats

d.      measures needed to improve their financial position

e.       any other matter referred by governor in matter of sound finance of panchayats

State legislature decides composition, qualification and method of selection of personnel. Governor places the report and action taken report to the house.

J.       Audits and accounting principles shall be laid by the state legislatures.

K.    President may direct application of this amendment to UT’s with modification or exceptions.

L.     Act doesn’t apply to Meghalaya, Nagaland, Mizoram, J&K, hill areas of Manipur and Darjeeling; scheduled areas and tribal areas of state [for this parliament has enacted panchayats extension to scheduled areas act [PESA act, 1996].

M.   Courts are barred from interference in electoral matters.


Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas Act, 1996:

1.   State legislation on panchayats shall be in consonance to their laws and practices for managing community resources.

2.  Gram Sabha shall have power to safeguard and preserve traditional practices, rights, customs and dispute resolution mechanism. It shall approve plans, projects, and schemes at village level before they are implemented. identify beneficiaries for poverty removal programs; certify utilisation of funds; acquisition of lands for developmental projects; resettlement and rehabilitation of affected people; recommend granting of mining leases for minor minerals;

3.      Reservation of seats shall be in proportion to their population; not less than 50% for ST; chairperson at all levels to be ST;

4.      State legislations shall ensure higher level panchayats don’t usurp authority of lower level panchayats

5.      Planning and managing minor water bodies the responsibility of panchayats at suitable levels.

Miscellaneous Facts - Maharashtra

  1. Sarpanch is the head of the gram Panchayat
  2. 7 to 17 panchas are present .
  3. Gram sevak or gram vikar adhikari is the secretary of the panchayat and calls the meetings of the Gram sabha. He is also the link between the government and the gram sabha.
  4. Minimum 2 meetings have to be held in a year - 14 April, 30 Oct.
  5. Panchayat Samiti is at the block level and headed by Chairman and deputy. The block development officer is the head of the Panchayat samiti.
  6. The zilla Parishad is at the district level and is headed by a President. He has term of 2.5 years. CEO of the Zilla parishad is the District collector but the Secretary of administration is the Deputy District collector.

Q. Local self-government can be best explained as an exercise in (UPSC CSAT 2017)

  1. Federalism

  2. Democratic decentralization

  3. Administrative delegation

  4. Direct democracy

Ans . B

  1. Decentralization of powers to local levels is the cause.

Q.Consider the following statements:
1. The minimum age prescribed for any person to be a member of Panchayat is 25 years.
2. A Panchayat reconstituted after premature dissolution continues only for the remainder period.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct? (UPSC CSAT 2016)

  1. 1 only

  2. 2 only

  3. Both 1 and 2

  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Ans . B

  1. Minimum age is 21 years, to contest election in Panchayat.

Q.Consider the following statements :
1. The Chief Secretary in a State is appointed by the Governor of that State.
2. The Chief Secretary in a State has a fixed tenure.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct? (UPSC CSAT 2016)

  1. 1 only

  2. 2 only

  3. Both 1 and 2

  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Ans . A

  1. Chief secretary is ‘chosen’ by CM. But he is ‘appointed’ by Governor. Because all the executive actions of the state are taken ‘by and in the name of the Governor

Q.With reference to the ‘Gram Nyayalaya Act’, which of the following statements is/are correct?
1. As per the Act, Gram Nyayalayas can hear only civil cases and not criminal cases.
2. The Act allows local social activists as mediators/reconciliators.
Select the correct answer using the code given below. (UPSC CSAT 2016)

  1. 1 only

  2. 2 only

  3. Both 1 and 2

  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Ans . B

  1. Panchayat Courts also function in some states under various names like Nyaya Panchayat, Panchayat Adalat, Gram Kachehri ,etc.,to decide civil and criminal disputes of petty and local nature.

  2. District court with consultation of DM, prepares panel of social workers to act as councilors.

Q.The fundamental object of Panchayati Raj system is to ensure which among the following?
1. People’s participation in development
2. Political accountability
3. Democratic decentralization
4. Financial mobilization
Select the correct answer using the code given below (UPSC CSAT 2015)

  • 1, 2 and 3 only

  • 2 and 4 only

  • 1 and 3 only

  • 1, 2, 3 and 4

Ans . C

  1. Financial mobilization was never the basis for the establishment of panchayati raj. Local financial mobilization (by way of octroi taxes etc. ) is the outcome of the establishment of the PRIs, not its objective.

  2. Political accountability can be ensured in any system which is democratic/rule-based, it need not necessarily be via a local body.

Q.‘Rashtriya Garima Abhiyaan’ is a national campaign to (UPSC CSAT 2016)

  1. rehabilitate the homeless and destitute persons and provide them with suitable sources of livelihood

  2. release the sex workers from their practice and provide them with alternative sources of livelihood

  3. eradicate the practice of manual scavenging and rehabilitate the manual scavengers

  4. release the bonded labourers from their bondage and rehabilitate them

Ans . C

  1. Rashtriya Garima Abhiyaan is an NGO-led movement for manual scavenger


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