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Local Government

One of the Directive Principles of State Policy in the Constitution directed the Union and State Governments to try to take steps to organise village panchayats and give them such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to act as units of self-government panchayati raj was not taken up seriously by the states. However, they are now given Constitutional status.

73rd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992 – 11th Schedule
Compulsory Provisions:
• Organisation of Gram sabha
– Creation of 3 tier panchayati raj at District, Block & Village level
– All the seats in panchayati raj shall be filled by people chosen by direct elections from territorial constituencies in panchayat areas.
– Minimum age for contesting for elections to panchayats is 21 years, for fixed 5 years tenure.
– Reservation of seats for SC/ ST in panchayats shall be in proportion of their population
– Reservation of women in Panchayats is upto 33 %.
– Each state is to constitute a state election commission to conduct elections & state finance commission every 5 years to review financial positions of the panchayats.

Voluntary Provisions:
• Providing reservation for backward classes
• Giving voting rights to members of union & state legislatures in these bodies
• Giving panchayats financial autonomy & powers to levy taxes, fees etc.

SALIENT FEATURES OF THE ACT
Gram Sabha
• Adult people (above 18 years) register in electoral rolls relating to a village comprised within the area of Panchayat.
• Meet twice a year (April 13 & Oct 3) & exercise functions as state legislature determines.
• In other words, Gram sabha is village assembly of registered voters within panchayat area to discuss issues related to their areas.

3 Tier Systems
• PART IX of the Constitution envisages a three-tier system. Act provides for a 3 tier system of panchayati raj in every state that is Panchayats at village, intermediate & district level.
• To introduced the democracy at grass root level all the seats in a Panchayat shall be filled by persons chosen by direct election from territorial constituencies in the Panchayat area. The electorate has been named Gram Sabha consisting of persons registered in the electoral rolls relating to a village comprised within the area of a Panchayat.
• However, a state having population less than 20 lakhs may not have intermediate level.
• Members of Rajya Sabha, Lok Sabha & state assembly in district may be included in intermediate level panchayat, in which they are registered as an elector.

Election of Members & Chairperson
• All the members of the panchayat at village, intermediate & district levels shall be elected directly by the people.
• Chairperson of panchayat (at intermediate & district levels) shall be elected indirectly by & among the elected members thereof.
• Chairperson of panchayat at village level shall be elected in such a manner as the state legislature determines.

Reservation of Seats
• Article 243D provides that -Reservation of seats of SC & ST (at all 3 levels) shall be in proportion of, their population to total population in panchayat area. If, for example, the Scheduled Castes constitute 30% of the population and the Scheduled Tribes 21%, then 30% and 21% seats shall be reserved for them, respectively.
• Further, state legislature shall provide for reservation of offices of chairperson in panchayat at all levels for SCs & STs.
• Reservation of not less than 1/3rd of total no. of seats for women, including number of seats reserved for women belonging to SCs & STs.
• Further, not less than 1/3rd of total no. of offices of chairperson in the panchayats at each level shall be reserved for women.
• Reservation of offices of Chairpersons, These reservations favouring the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes shall cease to be operative when the period specified in Article 334. A State may by law also reserve seats or offices of Chairpersons in the Panchayat at any level in favour of backward classes of citizens.

Reservation of offices of Chairpersons:
Duration of Panchayats
• Every panchayat shall continue for 5 yrs from the date of its 1st meeting
• It can be dissolved earlier in accordance with the procedure prescribed by the state legislature
• In case, it is dissolved earlier, elections must take place within 6 month of its dissolution.

Qualification (Art. 243 F):
• Same as state legislature but must have attained a minimum age of 21.
• The only difference is that a person who has attained the age of 21 years will be eligible to be a member (in case of State Legislature the prescribed age is 25 years-Article 173).
• Shall be qualified as a member of panchayat by any law made by state legislature

Powers & Functions (Arts. 243G-243H):
• It is for the state legislature to determine as to what powers are to be assigned to the panchayats to enable them to function as an institution of self-government.
• Powers shall be assigned mainly for social justice & economic development with regards to 29 matters, included in 11th schedule.

Financial matters (Art. 280):
State legislature may:
• Authorise a panchayat to levy, collect & appropriate taxes, duties tolls & fees
• Assign to panchayat to appropriate taxes, duties, tolls & fees levied & collected by state government
• Provide for making grants in aid to panchayats from consolidated fund of India
• Provide for constitution of funds for crediting money to panchayats.

Panchayat Finance Commissions:
Every five years, the State Government has to appoint a Finance Commission to review the financial position of the Panchayats and to make recommendations as to-
• The distribution between the State and the Panchayats of the net proceeds of taxes, duties, tolls and fees leviable by the State which may be divided between them and how allocation would be made among various levels of Panchayats;
• What taxes, duties, tolls and fees may be assigned to the Panchayats;
• Grant-in-aid to the Panchayats.
The report of the Commission, together with a memorandum of action taken on it, shall be laid before the State Legislature. These provisions are modeled on Article 280 which contains provisions regarding appointment of a Finance Commission for distribution of finances between the Union and the States.

State Finance commission:
Within 1 year of coming into force of this Act & henceforth every 5 years, state government (Governor) shall appoint a state finance commission, to review the financial positions of the panchayats & to suggest different means to enhance the same.

State Election commission (Art. 243k):
State election commissioner shall be appointed by governor to suprident, direct & control elections of panchayats including preparation of electoral rolls. He can be removed on the same grounds as a judge of HC & his tenure shall be determined by the Governor.
To ensure the Independence of the Commissioner it is laid down that State Election Commissioner can be removed only in the same manner and on the same grounds as Judge of a High Court. The State Legislatures have the power to legislate on all matters relating to elections to Panchayats.

Bar on interference by the courts (Art. 329):
• The act bars the interference by courts in electoral matters of the panchayats.
• It declares that validity of any law relating to delimitation of constituencies or allotment of seats to such constituencies cannot be questioned in any court.
• Further, no election to any panchayat is to be questioned except by an election petition, presented to such authority & in a manner provided by state legislature.

Exempted states & Areas
• Act does not apply to J & K, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Hill areas of Manipur, Darjeeling & certain other areas.
• However, parliament may extend its provisions to these areas under PESA, 1996 (Provision to panchayat extension to scheduled areas).

Urban Government

In our towns and cities, we have local government institutions that are called Municipalities and Municipal Corporations. An urban area is usually a compact and densely populated area. Municipal administration is necessary to provide basic civic facilities like water supply, drainage, garbage disposal, public health, primary education, construction and maintenance of roads and sanitation.

74th Amendment Act, 1992 – 12th Schedule
PART IXA gives, a constitutional foundation to the local self-government units in urban areas.
Institutions of self-government, called by a general name ‘municipalities’ are of three types:

Article 243Q makes it obligatory for every State to constitute such units. But if there is an urban area or part of it where municipal services are being provided or proposed to be provided by an industrial establishment in that area then considering also the size of the area and other factors the Governor may specify it to be an industrial township. For such an area it is not mandatory to constitute a Municipality.

Composition of Municipalities:
The members of a municipality would generally be elected by direct election. The Legislature of a State may by law provide for representation in a municipality of:
• Persons having special knowledge or experience in municipal administration,
• Members of Lok Sabha, State Assembly, Rajya Sabha and Legislative Council, and
• The Chairpersons of Committees constituted under Cl. (5) of Art. 243S. The Chairperson shall be elected in the manner provided by the Legislature.
All the members of municipality shall be elected directly by people of municipal area.
• For this purpose, each municipal area shall be divided into territorial constituencies known as wards
• State legislature may provide a manner of election of chairperson of municipality

Ward committees:
Consisting of 1 or more wards within the territorial area of municipality having population of 3 lakh or more. The State Legislature shall make provision with respect to its composition, territorial area and the manner in which the seats in a ward committee shall be filled.

Other Committees:
It is open for the State Legislature to constitute Committees in addition to the wards committees.

Reservations of seats:
a) For Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes: As in Part IX reservations of seats are to be made in favour of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in every Municipality. For SC, ST in every municipality, in proportion of their population, to total population in municipal area.
b) Reservation for women: Out of the total number of seats to be filled by direct elections at least 1/3rd would be reserved for women. This includes the quota for women belonging to Scheduled Castes and Tribes.
c) Reservation of offices of Chairpersons:
• It has been left to the State legislature to prescribe by law the manner of reservation of the offices of the Chairpersons of Municipalities.
• All reservations in favour of Scheduled Castes and Tribes shall come to an end with the expiry of the period specified in Art. 334.
• It is permissible for a State Legislature to make provisions for reservation of seats or offices of Chairpersons in favour of backward classes.

Duration – 5 years (Art. 243Q):
• Elections to constitute a municipality shall be completed well before the expiry of duration of 5 years (same as panchayats) & in case of dissolution, within 6 months from date of dissolution.
• A municipality constituted upon the dissolution of municipality before the expiration of its duration, it shall continue only for the remainder period, for which the dissolved municipality would have constituted, had it not been dissolved.
• 74th amendment also envisages setting up of committees for district planning, to consolidate the plans prepared by panchayats & municipalities in district & to prepare a draft development plan for the district as a whole.

Qualification for membership (Art. 243V):
• All persons who are qualified to be chosen to the State legislature shall be qualified for being a member of a Municipality.
• There is an important difference. Persons who have attained the age of 21 years will be eligible to be a member.
• While the constitutional requirement is that for election to the State legislature of a State a person must have attained the age of 25 years.

Powers, authority and responsibilities of Municipalities (Art. 243W):
Legislatures of States have been conferred the power to confer on the Municipalities all such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as institutions of self-government. It has specifically been mentioned that they may be given the responsibility of:
• Preparation of plans for economic development and social justice,
• Implementation of schemes as may be entrusted to them, and
• In regard to matters listed in the 12th Schedule. This schedule contains 18 items, e.g., Urban Planning, Regulation of Land Use, Roads and Bridges, Water Supply, Public Health, Fire Services Urban Forestry, Slums, etc.

Powers to impose taxes and financial resources:
A State Legislature may by law authorise a Municipality to levy, collect and appropriate taxes, duties, tolls etc. The law may lay down the limits and prescribe the procedure to be followed. It can also assign to a Municipality various taxes, duties etc. collected by the State Government. Grants-in-aid may be given to the Municipalities, from the Consolidated Fund of the State.

Panchayat Finance Commission (Art. 243-I):
The financial position of the Municipalities and make recommendations as to-
• The distribution between the State and the Municipalities of the net proceeds of taxes, duties, tolls and fees leviable by the State which may be divided between them and how allocation of shares amongst various levels of Municipalities.
• The taxes, duties, tolls and fees may be assigned to the Municipalities.
• Grant-in-aid to the Municipalities
• The measures needed to improve the financial position of the Municipalities.
• Any other matter that may be referred to it by the Governor.

Elections of Municipalities (Art. 243K):
The power of superintendence, direction and control of:
• The preparation of electoral rolls for, and
• The conduct of all elections to the Municipalities.
State Legislatures have been vested with necessary power to regulate by law all matters relating to elections to Municipalities.

Bar to interference by courts in electoral matters (Art. 243 ZA):
• The courts shall have no jurisdiction to examine the validity of a law, relating to delimitation of constituencies or the allotment of seats made under Art. 243ZA.
• An election to a Municipality can be called in question only by an election petition which should be presented to such authority and in such manner as may be prescribed by or under any law made by the State Legislature.

Committees for (a) District Planning and (b) Metorpolitan Planning:
Apart from giving constitutional recognition to Municipalities the 74th Amendment lays down that in every State two committees shall be constituted.
At the district level a District Planning Committee. At the district level a District Planning Committee (Art.243ZD).

In every metropolitan area a Metropolitan Planning Committee (Art.243 ZB):
The composition of the committees and the manner in which the seats are to be filled are to be provided by a law to be made by the State Legislature. But it has been laid down that,-
• In case of the District Planning Committee at least 4/5th of the members shall be elected by the elected members of the district level Panchayat and of the Municipalities in the district from amongst themselves. Their proportion would be in accordance with the ratio of urban and rural population of the district.
• In case of Metropolitan Planning Committee at least 2/3rd of the members of the committee shall be elected by the Members of the Municipalities and Chairpersons of the Panchayats in the Metropolitan area from amongst themselves. The proplortion of seats to be shared by them would be based on the ratio of the population of the Municipalities and the Panchayats in the area.

The State legislature would by law make provision with respect to:
• The functions relating to district planning that may be assigned to the district committees, and
• The manner in which the Chairperson of a district committee may be chosen.
The Committee shall prepare and forward the development plan to the State Government. In regard to the Metropolitan Planning Committee which is to prepare a development plan for the whole Metropolitan area the State Legislature may by law make provision for:
• The representation of the Central and State Governments and of such organisations and institutions as may be deemed necessary,
• The functions relating to planning and co-ordination for the Metropolitan area,
• The manner in which the Chairpersons of such committees shall be chosen.
• The development plan shall be forwarded to the State Government.

Addition to the duties of the Finance Commission under Article 280:
This part adds one more function to the duties cast on the Finance Commission appointed by the President under Art.280. The Commission will make recommendations in regard to the measures needed to augment the Consolidated Fund of a State to supplement the resources of the Municipalities in the State on the basis of the recommendations made by the State Finance Commission.

(Finance commission, Election commission, duties same as Panchayats)

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