Gram Panchayat, is the executive organ of the Gram Sasan/Sabha. It is the most important unit of rural local government.
It is directly elected by all the voters living within the area of the Panchayat. There is approximately 225000 Gram Panchayats in India.
The membership of the Gram Panchayat varies considerably from 5 to 31. In most of the States, Gram Panchayats have 5 to 9 members but in UP from 16 to 31 members and in Orissa 11 to 25 members.
The members of the Panchayat i.e., Panches are elected by all the voters by a secret ballot. In all the States, 1/3rd of seats are reserved for women. Special representation through reservation for the Scheduled Castes and Schedule Tribes also exists in all the States.
Sarpanch, of the Gram Panchayat is directly elected by the voters of the panchayat area. Some Sarpanch offices (1/3rd) are now reserved for women candidates. Likewise, members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes also enjoy reservations in respect of the offices of the Sarpanch in a district.
A Gram Panchayat is a deliberative cum executive body. It transacts its business by passing resolutions. The Sarpanch convenes, presides over and conducts the meetings of the Panchayat. Upon the signed request of ⅓rd of the members of Grama Panchayat a requisitioned meeting can be held.
The notice for a meeting of the Grama Panchayat including agenda of the proposed meeting is to be sent to all the Panches. He exercises control over its administration. He exercises the powers that are delegated to him by the Panchayat. Atleast one meeting of Gram Panchayat in a month is compulsory.
The Panchayat, functions through four or more committees. The Sarpanch is the ex-officio member and President of each committee. The other members are elected by the members from amongst themselves. The members of a Panchayat can request the Sarpanch for a special meeting.
A majority of members of the Panchayat constitutes the quorum. All decisions are taken by consensus or majority. Sarpanch can cast a casting vote in case of a tie.
V. Legal Status:
A Gram Panchayat is a corporate body having perpetual succession and a common seal. It has the power to acquire, hold and dispose of property and to enter into contracts.