Local Self-government in India - Panchayati Raj system in India and Municipality system


The local government is the third level of the government. In India, there are mainly two types of Local government- Panchayats in rural areas and Municipalities in urban areas.

1. Panchayati Raj in India

It is the lowest layer of government in India. It was constitutionalized by the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act of 1992. Panchayats play a vital role in the social life of the village and also resolved minor disputes among villagers.

After independence different committees were formed to frame the structure of local government in India.

Balwant Rai Mehta Committee (1957)

It suggested the three-tier structure of Panchayati raj. These three tiers of Panchayati raj are - Gram Panchayat at the Village level, Panchayat Samiti at the block level, and Zila Parishad at the district level. Balwant Rai Mehta was a parliamentarian who devised the idea of the Panchayati Raj in India and is also known as the 'father of the Panchayati Raj system in India'.

The Ashok Mehta Committee (1978)

It was formed by the government to review Panchayati raj in 1978. It recommended the two- tier system. These two-tiers are - Zila parishad at district level and Mandal panchayat at village level.

G V K Rao Committee (1985)

It was set up by the planning commission in 1985. It recommended that Panchayati Raj institutions should be recognised, protected, and preserved. It also recommended setting up of Nyaya panchayats.

LM Singhvi Committee (1986)

It was set up by the Rajiv Gandhi government in 1986. It recommended financial power for Village panchayats and also recommended setting up of judicial tribunals to resolve the controversies related to Panchayati raj institutions.

2. Panchayats

The 73rd amendment to the Constitution was enacted in 1992. It came into force on 24 April 1993. This act has added a new Part-IX titled “Panchayats” to the Constitution of India. The provisions of the Panchayati Raj are mentioned in Articles 243 to 243 O.

Under this act, State governments are under constitutional obligation to adopt the new Panchayati raj system.

3. Features of 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act

i. Three-Tier System

It adopted the three-tier system at the village, intermediate, and district levels.

The panchayat for a village includes Gram Sabha, Gram Panchayat, and Nyaya Panchayat.

(a) Gram Sabha: It consists of all adult residents within a village or group of villages. It is a general body of the panchayats. Article 243(A) contains the provision of the Gram Sabha.

(b) Gram Panchayat: The members of a Gram Panchayat are directly elected by the people. The number in the Gram Panchayat is fixed according to the population of the villages.

(c) Nyaya Panchayat: It solves the local disputes. The jurisdiction of Nyaya Panchayat varies in different states.

ii. Panchayat Samiti

It is the second tier of the Panchayati raj system. It acts as a link between the Gram Panchayat and a Zila Parishad. Sarpanchs of gram panchayats is the ex-officio members of Panchayat Samitis. Panchayat Samiti is headed by Block Development Officer.

iii. Zila Parishad

It is the uppermost layer of the Panchayati raj system. Chairpersons of Panchayat Samitis are ex-officio members of Zila Parishads. It looks after development works in the entire district and submits the development plans to the state government for the entire district.

iv. Elections of Panchayats

All the members of Panchayats at the village, intermediate, and district levels are elected directly by the people. The chairperson at the intermediate and district level are elected indirectly.

Any person who attained the age of 21 years can contest the election of Panchayats.

The election of the panchayats is conducted by the State Election Commission. The state legislature can make any provision related to the election of panchayats.

v. Reservation of Seats in Panchayats

The act provides reservation of seats for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in every panchayat. The act provides the reservation of not less than one-third of the total number of seats for women.

vi. Term of Panchayats

It has a fixed tenure of five years. In case the panchayat is dissolved before its term of five years, fresh elections must be held within six months.

vii. Powers and Functions of the Panchayats

  • The state legislature can give power and responsibilities to the panchayats for the implementation of the schemes. It can entrust the power to prepare the plans for economic development and social justice in the region.
  • The state legislature can authorise panchayats to levy and collect taxes, duties, tolls and fees. It can also provide a grant to panchayats from the consolidated fund of the state.
  • The State Finance Commission can distribute the net proceeds of the taxes, duties, and toll between states and panchayats.

viii. Exempted areas of the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act

The provision of this act doesn’t apply to the states of Nagaland, Meghalaya, Mizoram and certain other areas. The act is not applicable to the tribal areas of these states. The hill areas of Manipur and Darjeeling district of West Bengal are also exempted from this act.

4. Municipalities

The local government institutions in the towns and cities are called Municipalities, and Municipal Corporations. It is responsible to provide basic facilities like water supply, drainage, garbage disposal, public health in the cities and towns.

The first such Municipal Corporation was set up in the former Presidency Town of Madras in 1688, followed by similar corporations in the then Bombay and Calcutta in 1726. 

It is responsible for the local urban development and management of civic facilities.

There are eight types of urban local governments in India–

  • Municipal Corporation,
  • Municipality,
  • Notified Area Committee,
  • Town Area Committee,
  • Cantonment Board,
  • Township,
  • Port trust, and
  • Special purpose agency

5. Features of 74thConstitutional Amendment Act

The system of urban government was constitutionalised through the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act of 1992. It has added Part IX-A titled “The Municipalities” to the Constitution of India. This part has provisions related to the Municipalities.

Article 243-P to 243-ZG deals with the function, power, and organisation of the ‘Municipalities’.

The act provides three types of municipalities in every state. These are as follows:

(a) Nagar panchayat for a transitional area from a rural area to an urban area

(b) A municipal council for a smaller urban area

(c) A municipal corporation for a larger urban area

i. Municipal council

It is established for the administration of smaller towns and cities. It is also known as Municipal committee, City Municipality, etc. Municipal councils are set up by the concerned state legislature in states and by the Parliament in the Union Territories.

It consists of the councillors, which are directly elected by the people. It is headed by a President. The chief municipal officer is responsible for the general administration of the municipality.

ii. Municipal Corporation:

It is established for the administration of big cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bangalore, etc.

Municipal Corporations are set up by the concerned state legislature in states and by the Parliament in the Union Territories.

A Municipal Corporation has three authorities. These are as follows:

  • The Council: It is headed by the Mayor. It consists of the Councillors directly elected by the
  • People.
  • Standing committees: It deals with public works, education, health, taxation, and finance.
  • Municipal commissioners: He is the chief executive authority of the Municipal Corporation.

iii. Composition of the Municipality

The members of the municipality are elected directly by the people of the municipal area. Each Municipal area is divided into wards. Wards Committees are formed from more than one ward.

iv. Elections of Municipality:

The elections of the Municipalities are conducted by the State Election Commission. The state legislature can make any provision related to the election of Municipalities.

v. Term of Municipality

The tenure of Municipality is of five years but it can be dissolved before the completion of its term. In case the Municipality is dissolved before its term of five years, fresh elections must be held within six months.

vi. Reservation of Seats in Municipality

There is a provision of the reservation of seats for the scheduled castes and the scheduled tribes in every municipality in the proportion of their population.

One-third of seats are reserved for women. The state legislature can reserve the offices of chairpersons in the municipalities for SCs, STs,  and women.

vii. Powers and Functions of the Municipality

  • The functions of Municipality are generally classified into obligatory and discretionary types.
  • The obligatory function includes the supply of water, construction and maintenance of roads, street lighting, drainage and sewerage work, and other public works.
  • The discretionary functions are those that a municipal body may take up if funds permit. It includes the construction and maintenance of rescue homes and orphanages, housing for low -income groups, etc.
  • It is responsible for the implementation of schemes for economic development and social justice.
  • Municipal corporations and municipalities raise their revenues through taxes, fees and fines and tolls. It also receives grants from the state government.
  • The State Finance Commission can distribute the net proceeds of the taxes, duties, and toll between states and Municipalities.
  • The urban local bodies can also raise loans from financial institutions or other bodies only with the approval of the state government.

viii. Exempted areas of the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act

The provisions of the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act don’t apply in scheduled areas of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, and Rajasthan.

It doesn’t apply to the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council of West Bengal and the tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram.

6. District Planning Committee

A District Planning Committee is set up in each state for the implementation of the plans prepared by panchayats and municipalities in the district. It also prepares a development plan for the district.

Metropolitan Planning Committee: It prepares a development plan for the metropolitan area. It submits its development plan to the state government.

Need to Know Facts:

  • Rajasthan was the first State to establish Panchayati Raj in 1959 in Nagaur district.
  • The second state to adopt Panchayati Raj System was Andhra Pradesh (1959).
  • Gujarat is the first state to introduce Balika Panchayats.
  • National Panchayati Raj Day is celebrated in India on 24 April. 
  • Currently, there are more than 2.6 lakhs panchayats in India.
  • Under DPSP, Article 40 says that the State shall take steps to organise village panchayats and endow them with such powers and, authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as units of self-government.
  • BMC is the richest municipal corporation in India.
  • In terms of population, BMC is the largest municipal corporation. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Panchayati Raj System in India and Municipality

Who is known as the father of Panchayati Raj in India?

Balwant Rai Mehta is known as the father of Panchayati Raj in India.

Which is the first State to establish Panchayati Raj?

Rajasthan was the first state to establish Panchayati Raj in Nagaur district.

Which is the largest municipal corporation in terms of population?

BMC is the largest municipal corporation in terms of population.

Which constitutional amendment act inserted Part IX "Panchayats" in the Indian Constitution?

73rd Constitutional Amendment Act inserted Part IX "Panchayats" in the Indian Constitution.

Which schedule to the Indian Constitution is related to the Municipalities?

Schedule 12 of the Indian Constitution is related to the Municipalities.

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