Dear Members,

The 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Acts envisaged a major reform of governance by giving constitutional status to local bodies to plan for economic development and social justice. However effective devolution of power under Article 243G of the Constitution of India has not taken place, which has also been pointed out by the Second Administrative Reforms Commission.

Panchayats are meant to be autonomous institutions of self-government however they are treated as subordinate authorities at present. There is a wide variation in the devolution of powers to the Panchayats across states. Further power, authority and responsibilities of Panchayats as envisaged in the Article 243G could not be exercised, as the State Governments were unable to empower them to collect taxes under Article 243H and Finance Commissions were formed under Article 243-I to initiate measures to improve financial position of Panchayats. Hence panchayats are not in a position to undertake the responsibilities in respect of items stated in Schedule XI of the Constitution.

Government of India has initiated Centrally Sponsored Schemes in several areas, for example National Rural Health Mission initiated by Government of India in 2005, provides for centralized mission-mode approach to issues that are within the domain of Panchayats, according to the Constitution of India. Instead of following the normal route for funding as prescribed in Article 266 to 270 of the Constitution of India, Government of India disburses funds to State Health Societies, which disburses funds to District Health Societies and is passed on the Society offices at Block and Village levels. Unspent balances are parked in bank accounts, instead of remaining in Government treasuries. This is departure from fund-flow process envisaged in the Constitution; it disturbs federal structure and promote centralized control on development process, instead of decentralized one as envisaged in the Constitution.

There is need for reviewing Centrally Sponsored Schemes to enable State Governments to devolve power and functions to PRIs. Such review can be enforced through Public Interest Litigation (PIL) to the Supreme Court highlighting (a) 73rd amendment to the Constitution of India 1992 has remained unimplemented for last 22 years and there are limited efforts by the Central and State Governments towards allowing Panchayats to function as effective institution of self-governance, (b) Societies created to implement Centrally Sponsored Schemes transgress the jurisdiction of State Government departments, Panchayats and Municipalities and (c) Process of transfer of funds from Central Government to State Government contravenes Constitutional provisions.

Keeping the above in view, members are requested to comment and share their insights on:

· Whether it is necessary to seek time bound directions from Supreme Court to the State Governments to implement the 73rd Constitutional amendment?

· What are the administrative advantages /disadvantages of implementing Centrally Sponsored Schemes through Societies instead of departments of State Governments or through Panchayats?

· How many states have constituted Finance Commissions under article 243I? Are the findings of the State Finance Commissions constituted so far available in the public domain under article-4 of RTI Act?

Inputs by members would provide useful food for thought for a detailed study. Action Group/ round table discussion by Decentralization Community of Solution Exchange is possible in order to consider whether a Public Interest Litigation is required for empowerment of PRIs.

Dhirendra Krishna,
IA&AS (Retired)
New Delhi more  

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Politicians from Panchayat to Parliament went in buisy from the year of Land Ceiling Acts enactment . Present Resurvey and Settlement of Lands and Landed Properties definitely energize all Panchayats , Municipal administrations .
Of course , the present NDA trying to energize Panchayats to some extent selecting 100 Districts for upliftment from acute need . more  
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As in 1948 - 50 , during 1990 - 95 , there were Unique and excellent [1] Suggestions [2] Directions and [3] conclusions of absolute public interest which were metered from out of public ills and the ills in public administration including the negligence of the carry of the most essential and important public necessity oriented articles of the constitution .
All these are also set aside at the personal interest of political parties and now , to be REFORMED ONE BY ONE OR BATCH BY BATCH PLEASE . more  
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