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Constitutionalisation Of PRI

Though Rajiv Gandhi government and VP Singh government made efforts to entrust constitutional status to the PRI, the goal was....

Though Rajiv Gandhi government and VP Singh government made efforts to entrust constitutional status to the PRI, the goal was achieved only during the time of Narasimha Rao government through the passage of 73rd constitutional amendment act.

Rajiv Gandhi Government

  • The Rajiv Gandhi Government introduced the 64th Constitutional Amendment Bill in the Lok Sabha in July 1989 to constitutionalize panchayati raj institutions and make them more powerful and broad based.
  • Even though the Lok Sabha passed the bill in August 1989, the Rajya Sabha did not approve it.
  • The bill was vehemently opposed by the Opposition on the ground that it sought to strengthen centralization in the federal system.

V P Singh Government

  • The National Front Government, soon after assuming office in November 1989 under the Prime Ministership of V P Singh, announced that it would take steps to strengthen the panchayati raj institutions.
  • In June 1990, a two-day conference of the state chief ministers under the chairmanship of V P Singh was held to discuss the issues relating to the strengthening of the panchayati raj bodies.
  • The conference approved the proposals for the introduction of a fresh constitutional amendment bill.
  • Consequently, a constitutional amendment bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha in September 1990. However, the fall of the government resulted in the lapse of the bill.

Narasimha Rao Government

  • The Congress Government under the prime minister P V Narasimha Rao once again considered the matter of the constitutionalisation of panchayati raj bodies.
  • It drastically modified the proposals in this regard to delete the controversial aspects and introduced a constitutional amendment bill in the Lok Sabha in September, 1991.
  • This bill finally emerged as the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992 and came into force on 24 April, 1993.
  • The Lok Sabha passed this bill on December 22, 1992, and the Rajya Sabha on December 23, 1992. Subsequently, it gained approval from 17 state assemblies and received the president’s assent on April 20, 1993.

Salient features of the act

Gram Sabha

  • It is a village assembly consisting of all the registered voters in the area of a panchayat
  • It can perform such functions as the state legislature entrusts it with

Three-tier system: It suggests PRI at village, intermediate and district level. Thus, bringing uniformity in the PRI. However, states having a population less than 20 lakh may not setup PRI.


  • The people shall directly elect all the members at the village, intermediate, and district levels.
  • The indirect election process shall determine the chairperson of the intermediate and district levels.
  • The state legislature shall determine how to elect the chairman of the panchayat.

Reservation of seats:

  • Reserved seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in each Gram Panchayat will approximate total directly elected seats.
  • At least one-third of the total reserved seats must be allotted to women from Scheduled Castes or Tribes.
  • At least one-third of direct election seats in every Gram Panchayat, including women from Scheduled Castes and Tribes, must be reserved for women. As prescribed, various constituencies within a Gram Panchayat shall allocate these seats in rotation.
  • The above reservation is provided for the position of chairperson too
  • The act also authorizes the legislature of the state to make any reservations for backward classes

Duration of Panchayats:

  • The act provides for a five-year term of office to the panchayat at every level. However, it is possible to dissolve PRI before the natural term expires.
  • Fresh elections to the PRI should be held:
    • Before the expiry of the natural term
    • In case of dissolution, before the expiry of a period of six months from the date of its dissolution


  • A person stands disqualified for panchayat membership if they incur disqualifications as specified.
    • Under any law for the time being in force for the purpose of elections to the legislature of the state concerned
    • No person can be disqualified on the ground that he is less than 25 years of age if he has attained the age of 21 yeas.
    • The state legislature determines the authority to which all questions related to disqualification shall be referred.

State election commission:

  • The state election commission shall hold the authority for overseeing, directing, and controlling the preparation of electoral rolls and the execution of all elections to the panchayats.
  • State election commissioner will be appointed by the governor. They can only remove him from the office as specified for the removal of a judge.
  • The state legislature may make provision with respect to all matters relating to elections to the panchayats.

Powers and functions: State legislature may endow the panchayats with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as institutions of self-government.

Finances: State legislature may authorize a panchayat to levy, collect and appropriate taxes, providing for making grants-in-aid to the panchayats, provide for constitution of funds for crediting all money of the panchayats.

Finance Commission:

  • Every year, the governor empowers the establishment of a finance commission that reviews the financial position of the panchayats, proposes necessary measures to enhance the PRI, and offers recommendations on any matters referred to it by the governor.
  • It shall make recommendations on the following matters:
  1. Distribution between the state and the panchayats from the net proceed of taxes
  2. They conduct the determination of taxes, duties, tolls, and fees that may be assigned to the panchayats.
  3. Grants-in-aid to the panchayats from the consolidated fund of the state.
  • Central finance commission will also make recommendation on how to consolidate the financial position of the panchayat of a state based on the report of finance commission of the state
  • State legislature will provide for the composition, qualification of the FC.

Audit: State legislature may provide the manner for auditing of PRI.

Application to UT: The president of India may direct that provisions of this act shall apply to any union territory subject to such modification as he may specify.

Exempted areas: It does not apply to Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya, scheduled areas and the tribal areas, hill area of Manipur, Darjeeling district of WB. However, parliament may extend the provisions of this part to even these exempted areas with modification as it may specify. In this regard, parliament has enacted, ‘Provisions of the Panchayat (Extension to the scheduled areas) Act, 1996.

Bar to interference of court: The act bars the interference by courts in the electoral matters of panchayats. It also states that the court cannot question the delimitation related to PRI. The state legislature shall define the mechanism upon which it will entertain election petitions.

11th schedule: The act inserted a new schedule which contained areas that come under the purview of the PRI.

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Read also: Evolution Of Panchayati Raj

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