By Akash Pandey :

Panchayati Raj is a system of rural self-government in India established in all the states of India by the acts of the state legislatures, constitutionalised through the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act of 1992.

Panchayati Raj was not a new concept to India, Indian villages had panchayat from the very ancient time which were having both executive and official powers and used to handle various issues like land distribution, tax collection, etc. Gandhiji also held the opinion of empowerment of panchayats for the development of rural he areas. Thus, recognising their importance our constitution makers included a provision for panchayats in part iv of our constitution (directive principle of state policy). Article 40 confers the responsibility upon the state to take up steps to organise village panchayat and endow them with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as units of self-government. The formal organisation and structure were firstly recommended by the Balwant Rai Committee 1957, which recommended the establishment of the scheme of democratic decentralisation, which ultimately came to be known as Panchayati raj. It recommended for a three-tier system at village, block and district level and it also recommended or direct election of village level panchayat. Rajasthan was the first state to establish Panchayati raj on October 2, 1959. At present Panchayati Raj System is in all states of India except Nagaland, Meghalaya and Mizoram, in all Union Territories except Delhi

Features of 73rd Amendment Act-

The 73rd amendment to the constitution enacted in 1992 added a new part 9 to the constitution. The silent features of these amendments are as follows.

1. Organisation of Gram Sabha.

2. Creation of a three tier Panchayati Raj structure at the district, block and village level.

3. Almost all post, at all level to be filled by direct elections.

4. Minimum age for contesting elections for the Panchayati Raj institution is 21 years.

5. The post of chairman at the district and block level should be filled by indirect elections.

6. There should be reservation of seats for scheduled caste and scheduled tribes in panchayat in proportion to their population, and for women in panchayats up to 1/3rd seats.

7. State Election Commission to be set up in each state to conduct elections to Panchayati raj institutions.

8. The tenure of Panchayati Raj institution is 5 years, if dissolved earlier, fresh election to be held within six months.

9. A State Finance Commission is to set up in each state every five year.

Composition of Panchayats-

The Panchayati Raj system is a three-tier structure based on direct election at all three tiers; village, intermediate and direct. Exemption from the intermediate tire is given to the small state having less than 20 lakh population. All members of a Panchayat are directly elected. However, if a state so decides, members of a State Legislature and Parliament may also be represented n district and middle level panchayat.

Powers and Responsibilities of Panchayats-

State Legislatures may endow Panchayats with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable the panchayats to become institutions of self-government at grassroots levels. Responsibilities may be given to them to prepare plan for economic development and social justice. Schemes of economic development and social justice with regard to 29 important matters mentioned in 11th schedule such as agriculture, primary and secondary education, health and sanitation, drinking water, welfare of weaker sections and so forth may be made by them.

Functions of Panchayat-

All Panchayati Raj institutions perform such function as are specified in state laws relating to Panchayati Raj. The civics functions relating to sanitation, cleaning of public roads, minor irrigation, public toilet, primary health care, vaccination, supply of drinking water, constructing publics well, rural electrifications, social health and primary and adult education are obligatory functions of village Panchayats. The optional functions depend on resources of the panchayats. They may or may not perform such function as tree plantation on road sides, setting up of breeding centres for cattle, organising child and maternity care, promotion of agriculture, etc. After the 73rd amendment, the scope of functions of gram panchayat was widened. Such important functions like preparation of annual development plan of panchayat area, annual budget, relief in natural calamities, and removal of encroachment on public lands and monitoring of poverty alleviation programs are now expected to be performed by Panchayat.

Panchayati Raj of Jharkhand-

Jharkhand came into existence on 15th November, 2000 as the 28th state if India. Following its constitution as a separate state, Jharkhand enacted its Panchayati Raj Act 2000 in accordance with the 73rd amendment to the constitution which of the Panchayat Extension to the Scheduled areas act, 1996 is applicable to the present state. Article 243M of the constitution exempting the fifth schedule areas from the implementation of the part xi of the constitution, provides that parliament might by law extend its provision to the schedule and tribal areas. In 1995, Parliament enacted the PESA Act, extending part xi of the constitution with bound modifications and exception to the Fifth Schedule Areas notified in 10 states which include Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Odisha. Gram Sabha and Panchayats, under PESA Act, have been bestowed with large powers, that embody approval of plan, programs and comes for social and economic development, obligatory consultation before acquisition of land within the schedule areas for development comes and before resettling or rehabilitating persons flagged by such comes mandatory recommendation before grant of prospecting licence on mining lease or grant of concessions for exploitation of minor minerals in regular areas. Panchayat and gram Sabha, within their regular areas are delivered with such power and authority as is also necessary to modify them to operate as establishments of self-government. PESA Act principally aims to get the tribal population from exploitation by creating gram Sabha and gram Council centres of self-governance and has led special thrust to empower gram Sabha that has not been given by the other act in any state.

PESA extended the mandates of local self-governance and decentralized planning that was implemented through the 73rd amendment in 1992 in Scheduled Areas. PESA was enacted to preserve the ethnicity of the Scheduled Areas residents and, therefore, empowered the Gram-Sabha’s for local self-governance maintaining their customs and traditions. The PESA Act not only provides autonomous powers to the Gram Sabha’s to protect and preserve their traditions but also to manage the community resources existing naturally. These include mandatory consultation in matters of land acquisition, ownership of forest produces and other natural resources, among others. Observing the detailed list of the executive power provided to the Gram Sabha’s under PESA, it can be confidently deduced that this Act guarantees the safeguard of culture and traditions of the tribal ethnicities of India and thereby preserving the rich heritage of tribals.

District, Block and Gram Panchayat under PESA in Jharkhand

Sl. No.DistrictTotal No. of BlockGram panchayat
6.West Sighbhum18216
7.East Sighbhum11231
8.Saraikela Kharsawan8136
Total 1312024

3 Districts partially comes under Schedule V Area

Sl. No.DistrictTotal no of BlockGram Panchayat
Total 447
Grand Total 1352071

In order to strengthen Panchayati Raj institutions as per the spirit of the constitution and therefore the Jharkhand Panchayati Raj act 2001 the department of Panchayati Raj has been taken many schemes like construction of Panchayati Bhawan, grants to Zila Parishad space, training to PRIs officers and staff, grand 2-gram Sabha at sector is additionally being undertaken. The major schemes being in force by the state department square measure Backward Region Grant Fund and Rajiv Gandhi Panchayat Abhiyan.

Recent Developments

In January 2021, the Jharkhand government granted six months extension to over 4,000 panchayat bodies by forming three-tier samities for their day-to-day operation. The extension period will end on July 31, before which either polls have to be held or all panchayat bodies would get dissolved. In case of the latter scenario, the department would face difficulty in utilization of funds meant for panchayat bodies and local area development at a time when the pandemic has hit the economy and resulted in rural distress. Recently, state rural development minister Alamgir Alam held a meeting with his officials to explore possibilities in this regard and prepare an alternative road map to keep panchayat bodies operational.

The department is considering two options — to provide extension of another six months or put the rural bodies under the administrative control of the state government, a move which Bihar government has adopted recently.


 1. Altogether, for the capacity building of the Gram Sabha specific funds, should be allocated as they play a major role in the planning, approval, and implementation of all the major schemes for natural resources.

2. To strengthen the participation of tribals, building awareness about rights and contributing to their socio-economic development. Advocacy at the policy level is also required so that the present policies can be brought in line with the tribal rights, not against them. Amendment of all the relevant laws of the different departments should be made to comply with PESA.

 3. The Gram Sabha in the scheduled areas should be under the provisions of PESA and promote developmental activities related to the management of natural resources through sustainable management practices.

4. A transparent and definite provision should be made in the Revenue Law through a notification under Para 5(1) of the Fifth Schedule for empowering the Gram Sabha to restore the unlawfully alienated land to the authorized legal person.

5. There should be an appropriate synchronization between the district and block departments for better convergence and linkage of FRA right holders which is poor in the state.

 6. Despite earlier clarifications by the Ministry, JFM areas are continued to be converted into CFR (Community Forest Resource) though it is envisaged determination of CFR by the Gram Sabha through a demand-driven approach securing their livelihoods.

 7. The numbers of FRA (Forest Right Act) Claim issued should be maintained Panchayat wise for all the districts so that it should not differ in different Reports by the same District Administration.

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