Audit of Accounts of Panchayats
Functions of the State Election Commission
- 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 consisting of a State Election Commissioner to be appointed by the Governor.
- Subject to the provisions of any law made by the Legislature of a State, the conditions of service and tenure of office of the State Election Commissioner shall be such as the Governor may by rule determine provided that the State Election Commissioner shall not be removed from his office except in like manner and on the like grounds as a judge of a High Court and the conditions of service of the State Election Commissioner shall not be varied to his disadvantage after his appointment.
- The Governor of a state shall, when so requested by the State Election Commission, make available to the State Election Commission such staff as may be necessary for the discharge of the functions conferred on the State Election Commission by clause (1).
- Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the Legislature of a State may, by law, make provisions with respect to all matters relating to, or in connection with, elections to the Panchayats.
It deals with the details regarding Panchayats which are largely not important for our purposes. From the reading of the articles as stated above, certain features relating to the Panchayati Raj Institutions may be summed as under:
- The Gram Sabha or village assembly as a deliberative body has been envisaged as the foundation of the Panchayati Raj System having a population of over 2,000,000.
- A uniform three-tier organization of panchayats at village (Gram Panchayat ï¿½ GP), intermediate (Panchayat Samiti ï¿½ PS) and district (Zila Parishad ï¿½ ZP) levels.
- All the seats in a panchayat are to be filled by elections from respective territorial constituencies. 4. Not less than one-third of the total seats for membership as well as office of chairpersons of each tier has to be reserved for women.
- Reservations for the scheduled castes and tribes (SCs and STs) have to be provided at all levels in proportion to their population in the Panchayats.
- To supervise, direct and control the regular and smooth elections to panchayats, a State Election Commission has to be constituted in every State and UT.
- There is a provision for a State Finance Commission in every State/UT, for every five years, to suggest measures to strengthen finances of PRIs.
- For promoting bottom-up planning, the District Planning Committee (DPC) in every district has been accorded constitutional status.
- A list of 29 items has been given in Eleventh Schedule of the Constitution. Panchayats are expected to play an effective role in planning. The list of 29 items includes, among others, agriculture, land improvement, animal husbandry fisheries, a rural social forestry, Khadi and village industries, rural housing, drinking water, fuel and fodder, bridges, ferries, waterways, rural electrification, poverty development, public distribution system and the like. At present, (2014) there are over 3 lakh elected representatives at all levels of the panchayati system, one-third (1,039,058) of which are women.
These members represent more than 237,426 Gram Panchayats, 6326 intermediate level tier and 593 district panchayats. The new panchayats cover about 96 percent of Indiaï¿½s more than 5.8 lakh villages and nearly 99.6 percent of rural population. The Scheduled Castes number in PRIs is over 5 lakhs and the Scheduled Tribes number, in PRIs at all levels is over 3 lakhs. The lack of adequate fund, apathy at the rural level, the division of power with duplication and triplication, the state interference in one or the other are some drawbacks of PRIs. Decentralization hardly is effective. The poor does not get social justice. The conditions of the scheduled castes and tribes have not improved in any substantial manner.
Some of the major problems faced by the Panchayati Raj institution (PRIs) can be stated, briefly, as follows: (i) Matters relating to planning continue to be with either the state governments or the Centre. (ii) The PRIs do not enjoy financial and administrative autonomy. (iii) The role of the PRIs is secondary and subsidiary, for it depends on the regime exercising state powers. (iv) The PRIs have only responsibilities of implementation, with no rights or powers given by them. (v) For all practical purposes, the PRIs become the vote bank institutions, entrenched in local politics, always. (vi) Devolution of powers at the grassroots level remains vague. (vii) Accountability of the PRIs falls short of expectations of the concerned rural people.
Written by princy