As a land mark in the constitutional history of India, the constitution 73rd Amendment Act, 1992 has concerted the vision enshrined in the Article 40 in the Directive principles of state policy and has provided the Panchayati Raj Institutions a constitutional status. The Act has laid down board frame work and basic structural guidelines for the organization of the Panchayati Raj Institution. As local self-government and village administration is a State subject, the responsibility for organizing empowering the Panchayats suitably and adequately was left to the state legislatures.
Important guideline as provided in the Act is as under:
There shall be constituted in every state, panchayats at the village, intermediate and district level in accordance with the prevision of the Act. Panchayats at the intermediate level may not be constituted in a State having population not exceeding 20 lakhs. All seats in the Panchayats shall be filled by person chosen by direct election from territorial constituencies. Seat shall be reserved for (i) not less than one-third of the total number of seats reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes shall be reserved for women belonging to the Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes, as the case may be, (ii) not less than one-third (including the number of seats reserved for women belonging to the SC and ST) of the total number seats to be filled by direct election in every Panchayat shall be reserved for women and such seats may be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in Panchayat (iii) the office of the chairpersons in the Panchayat at the village or any other level shall be reserved for SC,ST and women (iv) not less than one third of the total number of offices of chairpersons in the Panchayats at each level shall be reserved for women, (v) reservation of seats in Panchayat or offices of chairpersons at any level may be made in favour of backward classes.
Unless earlier dissolved every Panchayat shall continue for 5 years. Election to Panchayats must take place regularly every five years. Panchayats shall prepare and implement plans for economic development and social justice. They shall have power to impose taxes, duties and fees. First during one year and then every 5th year the State Governor shall constitute a Finance Commission to review the financial position of the Panchayats and to recommend measures to improve it. Elections to Panchayats will be conducted by the State Election Commission.
A new Schedule, namely the Eleventh Schedule has been added to the constitution by virtue of this Act. It contains the list of subjects earmarked for the Pancyayati Raj Institutions.
Provisions for setting up grass root democratic institutions in urban area are contained in Constitution (74th Amendment) Act. The act says that there shall be constituted in every State (a) a Nagar Panchayat, (b) a Municipal Council and (c) Municipal Corporation. All seats in these institutions shall be filled by persons chosen by direct elections from the territorial constituencies in that area. However, State Government may be law provide for representations of persons with knowledge and experience in Municipal Administration.
Provisions for the reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, for women, for SC/ST women exit in the same pattern as in the panchayati Raj institutions.
Every Municipality unless earlier dissolved shall continue for 5 years from the date of its first meeting. Elections to new Municipality shall be held and completed before the expiry of the duration of the existing one. Unless disqualified under any law all persons of 21 years of age and above are entitled to membership of these institutions. State Government will legislate measures to endow the municipalities with all necessary powers to enable then to function as effective institutions of self-government. These institutions may also be saddled with responsibilities and power to levy, collect taxes, duties tolls and fees. Within one year from the commencement of this Act and thereafter every fifth year, the Governor of the State shall constitute a Finance Commission to examine and review3 the financial position of these institutions and to make recommendations to improve the same. Elections to Municipal institutions will be held under the direction and control of the State Election Commission.
In every district there shall be constituted a Direct Planning Committee to consolidate the plans prepared by Panchayats and Municipalities in the district, and the prepare draft development plan for the district as a whole. The law passed by Sate Legislatures will make provisions with respect to composition of Metropolitan Planning Committee, its functions and election of its members and chairperson.
Every Metropolitan Planning Committee shall, in preparing the draft development plan, have regard to plans prepared by Municipalities and Panchayats in the Metropolitan area and matters of common interest of these bodies. It shall forward the development plan to the State Government.
The twelfth schedule added to the Constitution enumerates the subjects earmarked for these urban institutions.
These institutions of Panchayatas and municipal bodies constitute the base of our democratic structure. They serve as the elementary training centers of democratic functioning. They are planned to provide every person an opportunity to participate in the self-government as well as local developmental activities.