Panchayat:Repo18/Law Manual Page0087


Chapter II of the Act provides for Grama Sabha in a village or group of villages. A study of the provisions commencing from Pat IX and the Eleventh Schedule of the Constitution to the Act and the different Rules would show that the Grama Sabha is the basic unit at the grass-root level where the common man's voice will be herd in matters relating to his grievance. That self government institution is where the weakest of the weak is empowered to raise questions in relation to governance through that institution and the implementation of schemes for economic development in the area to which a Grama Sabha relates and social justice policies are definitely matters of concern for every individual citizen who comes to the Grama Sabha. That citizens is entitled to know about the grants for economic development. He has the right under the Constitution and laws to ensure for his society that implementation of schemes for economic development is appropriately carried out. This includes the requirement to avoid pilferage. In this era when much is spoken about illegal siphoning of public funds, the right of the citizens to ask for the accounts in the Grama Sabha is among the most cherished entitlements that he has under the Constitution and the Act. If the exercise of such constitutional and statutory right is sought to be crippled by threat or criminal force, that would debase the very concept of the Grama Sabha and its strength as an institution of self government.-Joby George v. Thomas V-2012 (2) KHC 476 (DB).

Etymologically the word "democracy" has Greek origin, derived from two Greek words, 'demos' meaning people and 'kratos' meaning rule, strength. In Greece the reference to democracy is to the middle of the 5th/4th century BC, in Athens. However, democracy and democratic institutions have their roots in ancient India right from Vedic age (Circa 3000 - 1000 BC). 'Sabha' and Samiti' are two such democratic institutions referred at several places in Rigveda. Grama Panchayat was the cradle of domestic democracy, 'Panchayat' literally means 'Council of Five'. That too has its origin in ancient India. A village council of the residents of the village consisting of the elders known as Panchayat or Gramasangha performed administrative and judicial functions in the villages. Sometimes such Panchayats or Gramasanghas were manned by elected representatives also. There are references to Gramasanghas in Manusmriti, Kautilya's Arthasastra and Mahabharata. Valmiki's Ramayana speaks of the Ganapada, a federation of village republics. The membership in Ganapada was restricted to those persons who were committed to the general welfare of the people. It is pertinent and interesting to note that membership was specifically denied to 'durjana', people who are not interesting to note that membership was specifically denied to 'durjana', people who are not interested in the welfare of others and people who do not possess good qualities in life. Thus it can be seen that the village panchayats manned by 'sajjana' had an unbroken continuity in India throughout her long history and that is the source and basis of democracy in this country. Democracy thus became one of the basic features of Indian Constitution. – Varghese V.V. and Another v. Kerala State Election Commission and Another - 2009 (3) KHC 42 (DB): 2009 (3) KLT 1 : 2009 (2) KLJ 516: ILR 2009(3) Ker.9. It is true that as per Rule 3 (a) of the Kerala Panchayat Raj (Manner of Service of Notices) Rules, 1996, service of individual notice to the person who is intended to be served with notice has been contemplated. But Rule 3 of the Kerala Panchayat Raj (Manner of Service of Notices) Rules, 1996 applies only in cases where the Panchayat Raj Act or Rules or Bye-laws made thereunder requires the Panchayat to serve notices to a person. The Panchayat Raj Act does not insist on service of notice of Grama Sabha meetings to the persons who constitute the Grama Sabha as per Section 3(2) or to the head of the families within the area of the Grama Sabha. (Para 7) – Mavoor Grama Panchayath and Another v. Ombudsman and Others - 2007 (4) KHC 803 : 2007 (4) KLT 886.

7[3A. Powers, functions and rights of the Grama Sabha.- (1) Grama Sabha shall, in such manner and subject to such procedure, as may be prescribed, perform the following powers and functions, namely:-