Panchayat:Repo18/Law Manual Page0080

25. Women and child development.

26. Social welfare, including welfare of the handicapped and mentally retarded.

27. Welfare of the weaker sections, and in particular, of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribe

28. Public distribution system.

29. Maintenance of community assets.

*STATEMENT OF OBJECTS AND REASONS OF THE CONSTITUTION (SEVENTY-THIRD AMENDMENT) ACT, 1992

The Statement of Objects and Reasons accompanying the Constitution Amendment Bill was as follows:

1. Though the Panchayat Raj Institutions have been in existence for a long time, it has been observed that these institutions have not been able to acquire the status and dignity of viable and responsive people's bodies due to a number of reasons including absence of regular elections, prolonged supersessions, insufficient representation of weaker section like Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and women, inadequate devolution of powers and lack of financial resources.

2. Article 40 of the Constitution which enshrines one of the Directive Principles of State Policy lays down 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. In the light of the experience in the last forty years and in view of the short-comings which have been observed, it is considered that there is an imperative need to enshrine in the constitution certain basic and essential features of Panchayat Raj Institutions to impart certainty, continuity and strength to them.

3. Accordingly, it is proposed to add a new part relating to Panchayats in the constitution to provide for, among other things, Gram Sabha in a village or group of villages, constitution of Panchayats at the village and intermediate level, if any, and the offices of Chairpersons of Panchayats at such levels; reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in proportion to their population for membership of Panchayats and office of Chairpersons in Panchayats at each level; reservation of not less than one-third of the seats for woman; fixing tenure of 5 years for Panchayats and holding elections within a period of 6 months in the event of supersession of any Panchayat; disqualification for membership of Panchayats; devolution by the State Legislature of powers and responsibilities upon the Panchayats with respect to the preparation of plans for economic development and social justice and for the implementation of development schemes; sound finance of the Panchayats by securing authorisation from State Legislatures for grants-in-aid to the Panchayats from the Consolidated Fund of the State, as also assignment to, or appropriation by, the Panchayats of the revenues of designated taxes, duties, tolls and fees; setting up of a Finance commission within one year of the proposed amendment and thereafter every 5 years to review the financial position of Panchayats; auditing of accounts of the Panchayats; powers of the State Legislatures to make provisions with respect to election to Panchayats under the superintendence, direction and control of the chief electoral officer of the state; application of the provision of the said part to Union territories; excluding certain S of the provisions of the said part; continuance of existing laws and Panchayats until one year from the commencement of the proposed amendment and barring interference by Courts in electoral matters relating to Panchayats.

4. The Bill seeks to achieve the aforesaid objectives.