Panchayati Raj in ndia has a four way structure i.e. Gram Sabha or Village Assembly, Gram Panchayat, Panchayat Samiti, and Zilla Parishad.
Gram Sabha or Village Assembly
Gram Sabha constitutes the lowest level of Panchayati Raj. Each village with a population of 200 or more has a Gram Sabha. For a group of very small villages, a common Gram Sabha exists.
- Composition of Gram Sabha: A Gram Sabha consists of all the adults i.e. voters (persons above the age of 18 years) living in the area of a Gram Panchayat i.e., village or a group of small villages. TheGram Sabha has been now recognized as a legal body.
- Functions of Gram Sabha: The main functions of Gram Sabha are to review the annual accounts of Panchayat. Discuss audit, administrative reports of its Panchayat and schemes for Panchayat works. Discuss the tax proposals and accept community service and voluntary labour. The members of Gram Sabha elect the members of Gram Panchayat. In one year at least two meetings of the Gram Sabha are held. In its first meeting the Gram Sabha considers the budget of the Gram Panchayat. In its second meeting it considers the reports of the Gram Panchayat. A Gram Sabha elects the members of its Panchayat and also the Chairperson of Panchayat. It is a real grassroots level institution. The states have now tried to ensure a continued operation of all the Gram Sabha in their areas.
The village Panchayat is the executive committee of Gram Sabha. It is the most important unit of rural local self-government. All the voters living in the area of the Panchayatdirectly elect its members. Infect, members of each Gram Sabha elect the members of the Panchayat. It acts as the local government of the village. There are approximately 2,25,000 Gram Panchayats in India.
- Composition: The membership of a Village Panchayat is Between 5 to 31. In most of the states, a village Panchayat has 5 to 9 members. The members of the Panchayat are called Panches. All the voters of a village elect them by a secret ballot. In every Panchayat, 1/3rd of seats are reserved for women. Seats are also reserved for persons belongScheduled Castes and Schedule Tribes.
- Sarpanch: The Sarpanch (Mukhia) of the Panchayat is directly elect by all the voters of the village. Some Sarpanch officers are now reserved for women, and some for persons belong to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Sarpanch calls the meetings of the Panchayat and presides over these. He is to call at least one meeting of the Panchayat per month. The Panches can also request him for calling a special meeting. He has to call such a special meeting within three days. Sarpanch keeps the records of the meetings ofPanchayat. The Panchayat can assign any special function to him. The members of the Gram Sabha directly elect all members of a Panchayat including the Sarpach are directly electrets by the members of the Gram Sabha.
- Method of Working of Panchayat: A village Panchayat carries out its work by passing resolutions. The Sarpach convenes and presides over the meetings of the Panchayat. He exercises control over Panchayat administration. The Panchayat functions through its four or five committees. The Sarpanch is a member and President of each committee. The other members of committees are elected by the Panches from amongst themselves.
- Quorum and Method of taking decisions: A majority of members of the Panchayat constitutes the quorum. Consensus or majority takes all decisions. Sarpach can cast a casting vote in case of a tie.
Power and Functions of Gram Panchayat
A village Panchayat works for satisfying the needs of its area in respect of the following matters to upkeep of public places, sanitation and drains. Wells, water pumps, springs, ponds and tanks for the supply of drinking water and washing and bathing ghats. To burial and cremating the grounds. Building is public places and streets. It is relief for poor. It is public health and sanitation. It also organized and Celebrate of public festivals other than religious festivals. It is improve of the breeds of animals used for agricultural or domestic purpose. Public gardens, playgrounds, establishment and maintenance or recreation parks, organization of game sand spots, supply of sports materials and holding of tournaments. It Libraries and read the rooms. Register of the sales or cattle’s. It develops the agriculture and village industries and Start and maintains a grain found for the cultivators and lending them seeds for sowing purposes. It is construct, repair and maintenance of public places and buildings of public utility. In is respect of allotment of places for preparation and conservation of manure. A village Panchayat has the power to make necessary rules. It can levy some taxes and collect some fees. It also earns income form Panchayatproperty. Gram Panchayat has also the power to settle small disputes among the people of the village.
Panchayat Samiti is the second and middle tier of the Panchayati Raj. In different states it is known by different names. Madhya Pradesh calls it the Janapada Panchayat, Assam the Anchalik Panchayat, Tamil Nadu, the Panchayat Union Concil, and U.P. the Kshetra Samiti. The Taluka level body is known in Gujrat as the Taluka Panchayat and in Karnataka as the Taluka Development Board. Uts most popular name however, happens to be Panchayat Samiti. A Panchayat Samiti is created at the block level. Each block consists of the areas of several Panchayats.
- Membership of Panchayat Samiti: Six or ten members of a Panchayat Samiti are elected directly by the voters of all the constituencies falling within the area of the Panchayat Samiti. One meber of the Panchayat Samiti is elected for a population unit of 15000, elected representatives of the Sarphanchs of the Panchayats of the Block; Locla MLAs andMLCs and persons representing women, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes whose seats stand reserved.
- Reservation of Seats: In every Panchayat Samiti, seats are reserved for women and persons belong to SCs and OBCs. Not more than 1/3rd of all seats stand reserved for SCs, are reserved for women belong to SCs. 1/3rd or seats, out of the total number of directly elected seats of a Panchayat Samiti are reserved for woman.
- Meetings and Tenure: The term of each Panchayat Samiti is five years in all states. A Panchayat Samiti usually meets at least six times in one year. There cannot be a gap of more than two months between its two meetings. A meeting of Panchayat Samiti is either ordinary or special. The date of every meeting is fixed by the Chairman of thePanchayat Samiti and in his absence by the Vice-Chairman.
- Chariman and Vice Chairman of the Panchayat Samiti: Its very first meeting, each Panchayat Samiti elects two fo tis members as Chairman and Vice-Chairman. Chairmanshipsof at least 1/3rd Panchayat Samitis stand reserved for women members. Likewise, some of the offices of Chairman stand reserved for members belonging to SCs. The tenure of the Chairman is equal to the tenure of the Panchayat Samiti. The members of a Panchayat Samiti can remove the Cahirman by passing a resolution supported by 2/3rd majority.
- Quorum: Quorummeans the minimum number of members who must be present in a meeting of the Panchayat Samiti. It case the presence is less than the minimum required, the meeting of the Panchayat Samiti cannot take any decision.
- BDO/BDPO: a Block Development and Panchayat Officer and a term of Block Extension officers who are specialists in various fields help Every Panchayat Samiti in its work.
Powers of a Panchayat Samiti
Development of Animal Husbandry, Agriculture, Fisheries, Rural health, Sanitation Program, It helps Construction, repairs and maintenance of inter village roads and culverts on such roads and other means of communication. It establish the community information, recreate centers, establish youth organizations, Mahila Mandals, Farmer Clubs, Villages Clubs and establish popularization of libraries. It promotes the co-operation by helping the establishment and strengthening of service co-operative, industrial, irrigation, farming and other cooperative societies.
Funds of a Panchayat Samiti
Their resources mainly consist of a share in the land or local fee and duty on transfer of property, community development grants and funds allotted by the State government or Zilla Parishad for various schemes these resources are grossly inadequate.
The Zilla Parishad
It is the top tier of the Panchayati Raj. It operates at district level. It looks after the development of the rural areas of the district. Zilla Parishad is a legal body. It has the power to acquire, hold and dispose of property. It can enter into contracts.
- Composition of Zilla Parishad: It has the 10 to 25 directly elected members from all the constituencies falling within the rural area covered by a Zilla Parishad. Approx. 50000 rural people elected one representative. All chairmen of Panchayat Samities are falling within the area of the Zilla Parishad. MPs and MLAs whose names stand registered as voters in any constituency of the area of Zilla Parishad.
- Reservation of Seats: In every Zilla Parishad some seats are reserved for SCs, STs, OBCs, and women. The ratio of reserved seat is in proportion to the population of SCs. 1/3rd directly elected seats are reserved for women. In the case of OBCs, one seat is reserved in case their population living in the Zilla Parishad area in 20% or more of the total population.
- Chairman and Vice Chairman of Zilla Parishad: The main function of the Zilla Parishad Chairman is to preside over the meetings of the Zilla Parishad. He exercises administrative supervision and control over the chief executive officer and other officials of the Zilla Parishad. The Zilla Parishad can assign him any duty. He supervises the financial administration of the Zilla Parishad.
- Quorum for Meetings: The majority of total membership of a Zilla Parishad is the quorum for it’s meeting.
- Meetings: The Zilla Parishad meets once in three months. Its special meeting can also be held when requested in writing by 1/3rd of its members. The Chairman has to call such a special meeting within 15 days of receipt of such a request.
- Committees of the Zilla Parishad: The Zilla parishad functions through a number of standing committees. Each committee is in charge of specified subjects. The members of these committees are elected from amongst the members of the Zilla Parishad. The Chairman of the Zilla Parishad is a member of all the Standing committees.
Functions of the Zilla Parishad
Main functions of Zilla Parishad are development of agriculture, setup and maintain warehouses, train the farmers, land reclamation and conservation, development of Irrigation, water utilization in an optimum way, rural electrification, development of animal husbandry, develop of cold storage facilities, small scale and cottage industries, spreading of education, Celebration of national festivals, encouragement of small savings and to perform such functions as may be given to it by the state government.
Funds of Zilla Parishad
All money received constitutes a fund called the Zilla Parishad Fund. Funds of the Zilla Parishad are kept in the government Treasury or Sub-treasury or in a bank. The Secretary of the Zilla Parishad signs all order of expenditure or cheques against the Zilla Parishad Funds.