Panchayati Raj in Rajasthan

After Independence, Rajasthan was the first state to establish Panchayati Raj. The scheme was inaugurated by then Prime Minister Nehru on October 2, 1959 in Bagdari Village of Nagaur district. Panchayati Raj in India aims to build democracy at grass-root level and signifies the system of rural self government. Panchayats are an effective vehicle for people’s participation in administration, planning and democratic process and so organisation of village Panchayats has been made a Directive Principle of State Policy (Article 40). After, 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act of 1992 these institutions have received Constitutional status.

73RD CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT ACT OF 1992

Significance of the Act:

The act has given a practical shape to Article 40 of the Constitution which says that, ‘The State shall take steps to organise village panchayats and endow them with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as units of self-government’ (DPSP). The act gives a constitutional status to the panchayati raj institutions. It has brought them under the purview of the justiciable part of the Constitution. In other words, the state governments are under constitutional obligation to adopt the new panchayati raj system in accordance with the provisions of the act.

Additionally, neither the formation of panchayats nor the holding of elections at regular intervals depends on the will of the state government any more. The act transfers the representative democracy into participatory democracy. It is a revolutionary concept to build democracy at the grass-root level in the country.

Major Features of the Act:

  • This act has added a new Part-IX to the Constitution of India. It is entitled as ‘The Panchayats’ and consists of provisions from Articles 243 to 243O. Additionally, the act has also added Eleventh Schedule to the Constitution which contains the 29 functional items of the panchayats.
  • The provisions of the act can be grouped into two categories-Compulsory and Voluntary. The compulsory (mandatory or obligatory) provisions of the act have to be included in the state laws creating the new panchayati raj system. The voluntary provisions, on the other hand, may be included at the direction of the states.
  • Gram Sabha:
    • The act provides for a Gram Sabha as the foundation of the Panchayati Raj system. It is a body consisting of  all the registered voters in the area of the panchayat.
    • A Gram Sabha may exercise such powers and perform such functions at the village level as the Legislative of a State may, by law, pro-vide. (Article 243A).
    • There shall be at least two meetings of the Gram Sabha every year.
    • The quorum for a meeting of the Gram Sabha shall be one-tenth of the total number of members
  • Three-Tier System:
    • The act provides for three-tier system of Panchayati Raj in every state with Panchayats at village, intermediate and district level. In Rajasthan nomenclature used is:
      Panchayat System in Rajasthan
  • Elected members & chairpersons:
    • All members of the Panchayats at village, intermediate and district level shall be elected directly by the people.
    • Sarpanch of Gram Sabha is elected directly adult voters.
    • The chairpersons of panchayats at intermediate & district level shall be elected indirectly – by and from amongst the elected members. Manner of election of Chairpersons at village level is decided by State legislative assembly.
  • Elections to the Panchayats : The superintendence, direction and control of the preparation of electoral rolls for, and the conduct of, all elections to the Panchayats shall be vested in a State Election Commission.
  • Duration of Panchayats: Every Panchayat unless sooner dissolved under any law for the time being in force, shall continue for five years from the date appointed for its first meeting and no longer.
  • Reservations of Seats:
    • Seats shall be reserved for-(a) the Scheduled Castes; and (b) the Scheduled Tribes; in every Panchayat in ratio of population.
    • Not less than one-third (including the number of seats reserved for women belonging to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribe/of the total number of 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 a Panchayat.
  • Exempted Areas:  The Act did not apply to Jammu & Kashmir and certain scheduled areas in some states. However, the act provided power to Parliament to extend the Act to these scheduled areas with certain special provisions. Under which, Parliament passed “The Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 or PESA Act“. Rajasthan passed its conformity legislation in accordance with PESA on 30th Sept. 1999.
  • Finance Commission: The Finance Commission shall be constituted under Article 243-I to review the financial positions of Panchayati Raj Institutions and make recommendations to the Governor.

Panchayats in Rajasthan:

Rajasthan has a three-tier system of Panchayati Raj with 33 Zila Parishads (District level), 295 Panchayat Samities (Block level) and 9900 Panchayats (Village level, comprising of a village or a group of villages).

Each Zila Parishad has territorial constituencies. A Zila Parishad having population upto 4 lacs has 17 constituencies and in case the population exceeds 4 lacs, then for every one lac, the number of constituencies increases by two. The 33 Zila Parishads at present have 1014 constituencies.

Similarly, Panchayat Samities also have territorial constituencies. A Panchayat Samiti having population upto one lac consists of 15 constituencies and in case the population exceeds one lac then for every 15000 or part thereof in excess of one lac the number of constituencies increases by two. The 295 Panchayat Samities are presently divided into 6236 constituencies.

Each Panchayat has been divided into wards. The 9900 Panchayats at present have 108953 wards.

Composition of Panchayats in Rajasthan:

Gram Panchayat:

  •  A Sarpanch, and Directly elected Panchas from as many wards as are determined.

Panchayat Samiti:

  • Directly elected members from as many territorial constituencies.
  • All members or the Legislative Assembly of the State representing constituencies which comprise whole or partly the Panchayat Samiti area.
  • Chairpersons of all the Panchayats falling within the Panchayat Samiti]

Zila Parishad:

  • Directly elected members from as many territorial constituencies as are determined.
  • All members of the Lok Sabha and of the State Legislative Assembly representing constituencies which comprise wholly or partly the Zila Parishad area.
  • All members of the Rajya Sabha registered as electors within the Zila Parishad
  • Chairpersons of all Panchayat Samities falling within the Zila Parishad area

Implementation of PESA in Rajasthan

Rajasthan passed its conformity legislation in accordance with PESA on 30th Sept. 1999. The details of notified FSA/PESA areas in the State of Rajasthan as under:

  • Number of PESA District (Fully & Partly covered): 5
  • Number of PESA Blocks: 26
  • Number of PESA Panchayats: 4544
  • Number of PESA Villages: Not available

References:

  • PESA in Rajasthan: PDF
  • The Rajasthan Panchayati Raj Act, 1994 – Website
  • Panchayat Election Rule: PDF