In 1956, the National Development Council appointed a committee under Balwant Rai Mehta, which submitted its report in 1957 in which it recommended :
- A 3 – tier structure consisting of Zila Parishad at the District Level, Panchayat Samiti at the Block Level and Gram Panchayat at the Village Level.
- Genuine transfer of power & responsibility to these institutions.
- Adequate resources to them.
- All social & economic development programs channelized through these.
- The 3 – tier system of Panchayat Raj was 1st adopted by Rajasthan ( Nagaur District ) on Oct 2, 1959.
- This was followed by Andhra Pradesh, Bihar Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, UP & West Bengal.
Three Tier System
It envisages Panchayat at the village level, Panchayat Samitis at the block level & Zila Parishad at the district level.
a. Village Panchayat
- Consists of elected representatives of the people.
- Membership varies from 5 – 31.
- Seats reserved for SC, ST, women, etc.
- Chairman is elected from among its members, known as ‘Sarpanch’.
- The Panchayat is accountable for all its actions to the Gram Sabha, the general body of villagers.
- Gram Sabha consists of all the adults residing within the jurisdiction of the Panchayat.
- It exercises general supervision over the working of the Panchayat & lays down necessary guidelines for its working.
- The block, consisting of 20 – 60 villagers is administered through a Panchayat Samiti, consisting of indirectly elected members of village panchayat.
- The chairman of Panchayat Samiti is called ‘Pradhan’.
c. Zila Parishad
- It is the top level of the 3 – tier structure.
- Elect its chairman from amongst its members who is known as the District Collector.
- Appointed in Dec, 1977 by the Janta government
- Submitted its report in 1978, which said :
- Replacement of 3 – tier system by 2 – tier system consisting of Mandal Panchayats at the base ( consisting of a group of villages comprising a population of 15,000 to 20,000 ) & the Zila Parishad at the top.
- To reduce the dependence of Panchayati Raj Institutions on State govt, by giving them powers to collect certain taxes like profession tax, entertainment tax, etc in their areas.
- Suggested the setting up of Social Justice Committee in each Zila Parishad to protect the interests of vulnerable sections of society.
- Favoured the open participation of political parties in the working of Panchayati Raj Institutions.
- Panchayati Raj institutions to be constituted through direct elections, with reservation as well.
- Fixed term of 5 yrs, & if dissolved earlier, elections must be held within 6 months.
- They are authorized to make laws concerning economic & social development of villages. These have been listed in the eleventh schedule & comprise 29 subjects.
Reservation for women in PRIs in India
- The Union Cabinet of the Government of India, on 27 August 2009, approved 50% reservation for women in PRIs (Panchayati Raj Institutions).
- The Indian states which have already implemented 50% reservation for women in PRIs are Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.
- As of 25 November 2011, the states of Andhra Pradesh, Chhatisgarh, Jharkhand, Kerala, Maharastra, Orissa, Rajasthan and Tripura also reserve 50% of their posts for women.