The Constitution (Seventy-Third Amendment) Act, 1992

FOCUS

The Constitution (Seventy-Third Amendment) Act, aimed at strengthening India’s Panchayati Raj institutions, came into effect on April 20, 1993. It inserted Part IX into the Constitution, which advanced the Directive Principles of State Policy, especially Article 40 that covers the organising of village panchayats as units of self-government. Part IX consists of Articles 243–243(o) and the Eleventh Schedule.

This Act stipulates the creation of governing structures at the village, intermediate and district levels. It ensures democratic structures by mandating regular elections and a fixed tenure for members. The powers and responsibilities of these bodies are determined by the state legislature. 

    FACTOIDS

  1. What is a panchayat under this Act?

    Article 243(d) defines a panchayat as an institution of self-government for rural areas that can be constituted at the village, intermediate and district levels. For the purposes of this Act, the governor of each state specifies through a public notification what constitutes a village and an intermediate-level area. Panchayat members are chosen from each constituency by direct election, and the ratio of the constituency’s population and the seats it is allotted in the panchayat is the same for all constituencies.

  2. What is a gram sabha

    Article 243(b) defines a gram sabha as a general assembly of people on the electoral roll within the area covered by the village-level panchayat. 

  3. What are the powers and functions of gram sabhas and panchayats? 

    The powers and functions of gram sabhas and panchayats are determined by state legislatures. Panchayats can prepare plans for economic development and social justice, and implement schemes related to these matters and others in the Eleventh Schedule. The state legislature has the power to audit a panchayat’s accounts.

  4. What is the tenure of a panchayat? 

    A panchayat works for five years from the date of its first meeting. Elections are held after five years or within six months of the dissolution of the panchayat. 

  5. Is there reservation for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and women in panchayats? 

    Proportional reservation of seats in panchayats is guaranteed to the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs). (That is, the ratio of the panchayat’s reserved seats and the total number of seats is the same as the ratio of the SC/ST population and the panchayat area’s total population.) Of these reserved seats, 33 per cent must be reserved for SC and ST women. The Act also says that no less than 33 per cent of a panchayat’s total seats should be reserved for women. The state legislature determines the reservation for SCs, STs and women for the post of the panchayat chairperson. 

  6. Does this amendment to the Constitution apply to Scheduled Areas? 

    This amendment introduces Part IX into the Constitution and its provisions do not apply to Scheduled Areas and tribal areas (Article 244, Schedules V and VI), the states of Nagaland, Meghalaya and Mizoram, hill areas with district councils in Manipur, and hills areas in Darjeeling district of West Bengal. However, parliament has the power to make a law that will extend the Act to Scheduled Areas and tribal areas. In 1996, it passed the Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 or PESA, thereby extending the provisions of this Act to Scheduled Areas.

    Factoids and Focus by Vasundhara Kamath. 

AUTHOR

Ministry of Law and Justice

COPYRIGHT

Government of India, New Delhi

PUBLICATION DATE

20 Apr, 1993

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