The U.P. Panchayat Raj Act, 1947
This Blog is written by Akshara Lagisetty from Amity University, Mumbai. Edited by Prakriti Dadsena.
The Panchayati Raj Institution system is the Rural Local Self Government in India. In the urban areas, the administration of the government is easier to function as all the functionaries are available and dispose of the issues in a timely manner, whereas in the rural areas where the administrative functionaries are difficult to reach and their issues go unnoticed or cannot be easily addressed. So in order to bridge the gap between the rural areas and the state government is one the reason why the Panchayati Raj Institution system was set up.
This system helped the rural areas to set up a local government which helps in decentralizing the government and helps in encouraging the local people to participate in the decision-making about the development of their villages.
Uttar Pradesh is the 5th largest state and has about 20.42 crores of people making it the most populous state of the country. Uttar Pradesh covers around 2.41 lakh sq. Km of the area which accounts for 7.3% of the country. The country is heavily based on agricultural income and the state is divided into 4 zones based on the economy, western region, central region, eastern region, and Bundelkhand.
Article 40 of the Indian Constitution is one of the Directive Principles of State Policy where is provides that
- Organisation of village panchayats 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.
Taking this article into consideration the United Provinces Panchayat Raj Act 1947, on August 15, 1949 established panchayats in the state.
THE EVOLUTION OF THE ACT
In 1947 when the act was initially established there were 35000 panchayats and 8000 panchayat courts were established by the state and by 1955 the panchayat courts were increased to 72,409 and the courts were renamed to ‘Nyaya Panchayat courts’.
In the year 1961-62, on the recommendation of the Balwant Rai Mehta Committee the three-tier Panchayati system had stated
• Gram Panchayat: Village level
• Mandal Parishad or Block Samiti or Panchayat Samiti: Block level
• Zila Parishad: District level
In the year 1988, the act was amended to accommodate 30 percent of representations of women were made in the village panchayats. There was also envisaged that at least one SC or ST woman should be represented in every village panchayat.
In 1992 the panchayat was given constitutional status bypassing the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992 which was ratifies by 17 state assemblies. The amendment was inserted in the 9th part of the constitution. Some of the main features are
1. To ensure uniformity the three-trier system was made permanent.
2. To constitute panchayat in every state
3. To provide compulsory quota to women, ST, SC, and OBC.
4. To organize and structure the gram sabha and other functionaries of the panchayat
5. To set the term of the panchayat and many more.
According to the act Gram Sabha is defined in Section-2 (g) where it states
“Gram Sabha” means a body, established under Section 3, consisting of persons registered in the electoral rolls relating to a village comprised within the area of Gram Panchayat
Gram Sabha – The State Government shall, by notification in the official Gazette, establish a Gram Sabha for a village or group of villages by such name as may be specified; Provided that where a Gram Sabha is established for a group of villages, the name of the village having the largest population shall be specified as the name of the Gram Sabha.
A Gram Sabha basically consists of all the citizens of the village who are eligible to be part of an electoral roll i.e. above 18 years. It is known as the soul of the panchayat institute. Gram Sabha is considered as a general assembly of the village or sometimes a group of villages. The function of the gram sabha is to assess the needs on which the gram panchayat can undertake the work. The gram sabha can also review the decisions of the decisions taken by the gram panchayat, discuss the budget, financial statements, and expenditure.
Not only that, the gram sabha is required to hold a general meeting twice a year, 1st meeting when the Kharif Crop is harvested in the month of January and another is when the Rabi crop is harvested in the month of August. The general meeting is presided over by the Pradhan, Head of the Gram Panchayat. There can be extraordinary general meetings be conducted but not without the written requisition of at least 1/5th members of the gram sabha and within 30 days after receiving the requisition the meeting can be conducted.
Gram Panchayat is defined in the Section-12 of the Act. The gram panchayat should be named after that panchayat area but if there are a group of villages then the village which has the most population, the gram panchayat will take that village’s name.
The gram panchayat is an elected body. It consists of elected members amongst the gram sabha. The members are called Panches and also ahead who is called Pradhan. The number of Panches will depend upon the population of the Gram Sabha.
|Up to 1000||9|
|2000 – 3000||13|
|More than 3000||15|
To carry out the various functions of the Gram panchayat the members must form different committees to support the functions. Some of the committees are-
• Siksha Samiti- Main responsibility is to provide primary and higher primary education and also informal education,
• Nirman Karya Samiti- Responsible for construction-related activities,
• Jal Prabandhan Samiti- Responsible for providing clean and drinking water, water management,
• Niyojan Evam Vikas Samiti- This committee takes care of the development and planning committee which responsible to prepare a plan to carry out functions of agriculture, animal husbandry.
• Swasthya Evam kalyan Saiti- This is a health and welfare committee that takes care of medical treatment, social welfare, and family welfare, and ST, SC and OBC welfare.
• Prasashanik Samiti- Responsible for administration of employees and ration shops.
PRADHAN and UP-PRADHAN
Prandhan and Up-Pradhan are defined in the Section-11A of the act where it states that they are the chairperson of the Gram Panchayat, state government reserved offices of Pradhan of SC, ST and OBC.
According to Section-11b Pradhan is elected by the persons registered in the electoral rolls for the territorial constituencies of the Panchayat area from amongst themselves. And Section-11c talks about the election of UP-Pradhan, they shall be elected by the members of the Gram Panchayat from amongst themselves in such manner as may be prescribed.
The Nyaya Panchayat means Justice Panchayat which solves legal conflicts right at the village level. The Nyaya Panchayat should settle all civil and criminal cases 6 weeks after they have been instituted. The cases which are allowed to be tried in the Nyaya Panchayat are mentioned in the Annexure 10 of the act.
The act made provision for the establishment of nyaya panchayat for each circle. A Circle is defined in the Section-2d
‘Circle’ means the area within which a Nyaya Panchayat exercises jurisdiction under Section 42;
Each circle comprises as many areas subject to the jurisdiction of the Gram Panchayat, provided that the areas as far as possible are contiguous.
On the basis of the directions given by the director of the Panchayats the district Magistrate must ascertain-
(1) Number of circles formed based on the division of the district for the establishment of the Nyaya Panchayat
(2) How much area to be incorporated in each circle
The Nyaya Sabha consists of members of Gram Panchayat and the number of panches depends upon the number of gram sabha each nyaya panchayat comprise.
|Number of Gram Sabhas the Nyaya Panchayat comprise.||Total number of Panches to be elected|
|2 Gram Sabhas||5 panches to be elected from each panchayat|
|3 Gram Sabhas||3 initially from each panchayat and concerned and the remaining Panch from the Gram Sabha with the highest population|
|More then 12 Gram Sabhas||One Panch shall be selected initially from each Gram Panchayat, and the remaining Panches must be selected one from each Gram Sabha based on population.|
|In other cases||Two Panches must be selected from each Gram Panchayat at first, then the remaining Panches must be appointed one from each Gram Sabha based on population.|
To become eligible for a panch in the Nyaya Panchyat,
1) Such a person should be able to read and write Hindi
2) Above 30 years of age
The term of such panch will begin on the date of the appointment and expires with the Gram Panchayat, from which he/she was appointed.
The act provides that there should be 2 persons elected as Sarpanch and the Sahayak Sarpanch. The panches of each Nyaya Panchayat must elect 2 members among themselves. They have to be capable of recording the proceedings. Sarpanch will confer with a power to form benches which consist of 5 people each to help with the cases.
The Kshettra Panchayat is defined in the Section-5 of the The U.P. Kshettra Panchayats And Zila Panchayats Adhiniyam, 1961. Each district is divided into blocks also known as khands and in each block there should be a Kshettra Panchayat.
According to Section-7 of The Uttar Pradesh Kshettra Panchayat and Zila Panchayat Adhiniyam, 196, each Kshettra Panchayat comprises of a chairperson who is called as Pramukh and also a Senior Up-Pramukh and Junior Up- Pramukh. These 3 people are elected by members of Kshettra Panchayats from amongst themselves.
The other members comprise of
1. Members of Rajya Sabha and Legislative Council of Uttar Pradesh who who are registered as electors within the block
2. Members of Lok Sabha and Legislative Assembly of the State representing constituencies which comprise wholly or partly the block
3. All Pradhans of the Gram Panchayats in the block
4. Elected members, elected from the territorial constituencies
In the Kshettra Panchayat there is also a chief executive officer who is called Khand Vikas Adhikari. The function of this officer is to execute the decisions and resolutions of the Kshettra Panchayat and its committees. The kshettra panchayat must constitute committees to enable the functioning of the Panchayat. The term of the committees is one year. They are-
• Siksha Samiti– Main responsibility is to provide primary and higher primary education and also informal education,
• Nirman Karya Samiti– Responsible for construction-related activities and quality assurance purposes
• Jal Prabandhan Samiti– Responsible for providing clean and drinking water, water management,
• Niyojan Evam Vikas Samiti– This committee takes care of the development and planning committee which responsible to prepare a plan to carry out functions of agriculture, animal husbandry.
• Swasthya Evam kalyan Saiti– This is a health and welfare committee that takes care of medical treatment, social welfare, and family welfare and especially for women and children.
• Prasashanik Samiti– Responsible for administration of employees at the block level and ration shops.
Zila Panchayat is formed at the District Level. Every Zila Panchayat consists of an Adhyaksha, who is its Chairperson and
a) Pramukhs of all Kshettra Panchayatsin the district;
b) Elected members, elected from the territorial constituencies;
c) Members of the Lok Sabha and the State Legislative Assembly representing constituencies that comprise any part of the Panchayat area;
d) Members of the Rajya Sabha and members of the Legislative Council of Uttar Pradesh, who are registered as electors within the panchayat area.
According to Section 19 of The Uttar Pradesh Kshettra Panchayats and Zila Panchayats Adhiniyam, 1961 the Adhyaksha and Upadhyaksha are elected by the members amongst themselves.
The Zila Panchayat also has to form committees in order to carry all of its functions simultaneously, the committees are
1. Siksha Samiti– Main responsibility is to provide primary and higher primary education and also informal education,
2. Nirman Karya Samiti– Responsible for construction-related activities,
3. Jal Prabandhan Samiti– Responsible for providing clean and drinking water and state woned taps; water management,
4. Niyojan Evam Vikas Samiti– This development and planning committee prepares the zilla panchayat which is responsible to prepare a plan to carry out functions of agriculture, animal husbandry.
5. Swasthya Evam kalyan Saiti– This is a health and welfare committee that takes care of medical treatment, social welfare, and family welfare, and especially women and children welfare at the district level.
6. Prasashanik Samiti– Responsible for administration of employees at the district level and ration shops.
The term of these committees expires with the zilla panchayat , through 1/3rd of its members of the committee retire every year.
According to Section-32 of the U.P. Panchayat Raj Act, the gaon fund will be subject to the annual estimate of the income and expenditure passed under section-41 of this act, these funds will be used by the gram sabha, gram panchayat and their committees to carry out their functions.
As per the Section-32 (2), The following shall be credited to the Gaon Fund.
(a) The proceeds of any tax imposed under this Act.
(b) All sums handed over by the State Government to the 3 [Gram Panchayat.] (c) The balance, if any, standing to the credit of the village Panchayat previously in existence under the Village Panchayat Act.
(d) All sums ordered by a Court [or required under any law] to be placed to the credit of the Gaon Fund.
(e) All sums received under Section 104.
(f) The sale proceeds of all dust, dirt, dung, or refuse including the dead bodies of animals collected by the servants of the Gram Panchayat.
(g) Such portion of the rent or other proceeds of nazul property as the State Government may direct to be placed to the credit of the Gaon Fund.
(h) Sums contributed to the Gaon Fund by any [Zila Panchayat] or other local authority.
(i) All sums received by way of loan or gift.
(j) Such other sums as may be assigned to the Gaon Fund by any special or general order to the State Government.
(k) All sums received by the Gram Panchayat from any individual or corporation or the State Government under Section 24 or any other law.
(l) All sums received by way of grants-in-aid from the consolidated fund of the State.
Section- 32A provides for the institution of the Finance commission. The function of the finance commission is to determine and review the financial status of the Gram Panchayat, Kshettra Panchayat and Zila Panchayat and to make recommendations to the Governor as to-
(a) the principles which should govern –
i- the distribution between the State and the Gram Panchayats, Kshettra Panchayats and Zila Panchayats of the net proceeds of the taxes, duties, tolls, and fees leviable by the State, which may be divided between them and the allocation between the Gram Panchayats, Kshettra Panchayats and Zila Panchayats of their respective shares of such proceeds;
ii- the determination of the taxes, duties, tolls, and fees which may be assigned to, or appropriated by the Gram Panchayats, Kshettra Panchayats, and Zila Panchayats;
iii- the grants-in-aid to the Gram Panchayats, Kshettra Panchayats and Zila Panchayats;
(b) the measures needed to improve the financial position of the Gram Panchayats, Kshettra Panchayats and Zila Panchayats;
(c) any other matter referred to the Financial Commissions by the Governor in the interest of sound finance of the Gram Panchayats, Kshettra Panchayats, and Zila Panchayats;
Finance Commission are conferred with the power of-
(a) call for any record from any officer or authority;
(b) summon any person to give evidence or produce a record; and
(c) such other powers as may be prescribed;
The finance commission n is constituted by the governor after every 5-year expiration. The commission comprises of Chairmen and other members who possess such qualifications shall be elected. Every recommendation made by the Finance Commission under this section, along with an explanatory memorandum on the action taken on it, shall be brought before both Houses of the State Legislature by the Governor.
SUCCESS OF THE ACT
The act is a tremendous success in Uttar Pradesh. The motive of this act was to make ordinary people to participate in the development of their place and help to bridge the gap between the State government and the villages so that by implementing the schemes and plans made for the rural area they can receive all the benefits possible.
The increase in the literacy rate has been seen in many rural areas. Especially in Uttar Pradesh, the illiteracy rate has been tremendously decreased which showed significant change in society. The Department of education, management information system (DISE) has released that the 90% of primary schools were established after the implementation of the act in the rural areas, and also the there was extensive development in the building of infrastructure for primary schools which abled the functioning and imparting of education in the villages of Uttar Pradesh which was possible only with the active involvement of Gram Panchayats.
Health services were one of the key areas where the rural people had issues because there were hardly any hospitals available in the suitable distance always had to travel long in order to get treatment. In order to solve this transportation problem, Samajwadi Swastha Sewa was introduced to provide speedy transportation to the hospital for free of cost and available any time of the day. There were ambulances in every block and district and 2 ambulances at every district headquarters. This significant development was due to the active functioning of the panchayats and their committees and state and central government.
Agriculture is the main source of income in rural areas. In the years 1954-60, the panchayats played an active role by participating in the green revolution and become self-sufficient with regard to food. Gram Panchayat also arranged agriculture efforts to help the farmers with useful advice in helping to improve their crops and income.
Due to the panchayats many villages have electricity. There was a significant change in the pace of the development. Panchayats also helped in developing infrastructure by building toilets, setting up sound drainage systems. There was also seen the increase in issuing of Aadhar card, ration card and maintenance of quality in the ration shops, and construction of roads to connect with the highways and the main road.
This was all done because of the active participation of the panchayats. But when noticed this was all possible because people chose to participate and take initiative to represent their areas for better facilities and benefits for their fellow citizens. It was also seen there was a significant increase in the participation and representation of the women, SC, ST, and OBC in the panchayats.
Panchayati Raj Institutions provide rural villagers in India with a chance to participate in village planning processes, participate in schemes being implemented by the government, and directly interact with their elected representatives to ensure that their interests are effectively served and their money is properly spent.
The introduction of the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992 which provided the constitutional status to the act shows the significance and the importance of the act. The development brought by the right implementation of this act is extraordinary but still has scope for improvement.