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Rajya Sabha TV In Depth – 74th Constitutional Amendment

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Rajya Sabha TV In Depth – 74th Constitutional Amendment


Year 2018 marks the 25th anniversary of the historic 73rd and 74th amendments to the Constitution of India that conferred constitutional status to local self governments in rural and urban areas and strengthened democracy at grass root levels. Prior to these amendments only states were recognized as sub-national entities while Union, State and Concurrent lists identified the domains of governance, policy making and legislation.

Analysis:

  • DEMOCRACY means that every person has a right to raise issues related to development of their region. Decentralization of power and local self government are crucial in this direction.
  • Municipal Governance in India has existed since 1687 (Madras Municipal Corporation) and later in 1726 (Calcutta and Bombay Municipal Corporation). During rule of British in India, Lord Ripon passed a resolution of Local Self Government.
  • The demands for participation of local residents living within villages and towns in decision making has been raised since India gained independence in 1947.
  • AMENDMENTS: To address the social, economic and political problems of the society, an elaborate procedure to amend the Constitution exists under Article 368 that includes three categories:
  1. First category: Excluded from the purview of Article 368, it requires a simple majority in the Parliament. Example: Delimitation of constituencies.
  2. Second category: Requires a prescribed ‘special majority’ in the Parliament. Example: Fundamental Rights
  3. Third category: Requires ratification by ½ of the states by a simple majority in addition to ‘special majority’ of the Parliament. Examples: 73rd and 74th amendments, election of the President, etc.
  • Thus, originally Indian Constitution had a preamble, 395 articles, 22 parts, 8 schedules and currently it has a preamble, 25 parts, 448 articles, 12 schedules, 5 appendices and 101 amendments. The 101st amendment, 2016 commenced on 1 July 2017 introduced the Goods and Services Tax.
  • Both 73rd amendment (for panchayats at village level) and 74th amendment (for local administration in the urban areas) are milestones in decentralization of power in India. They increased people’s participation in governance and made third tier of administration (after central and state levels) stronger and more effective.
  • Holding local body elections became a constitutional obligation by these amendments.
  • 74th AMENDMENT of 1992: It was passed by Parliament in December 1992 and came into force on 1 June 1993 adding Part IX A (Articles 243-P to 243-ZG) and 12th schedule in the Constitution.
  • 74th amendment provided a uniform law for all the municipalities in the nation. They were intended to become independent units of self-governance.
  • Article 243-Q: (Constitution of Municipalities)
  1. Nagar Panchayat: In areas of transition from rural to urban area.
  2. Municipal Council: For smaller urban areas (Tier-II town and population > 1 lakh).
  3. Municipal Corporation: For larger urban areas (In general, population > 1 million) like in Guwahati, Patna, etc.
  • Article 243R: (Composition of Municipalities) All of its members are directly elected by the people of the Municipal area which is divided into territorial constituencies (wards).
  • Article 243W: Powers, authorities and responsibilities of municipalities which includes urban planning, financial and social development, etc.
  • Article 243 Y: Constitution of Finance Commission which will recommend in relation to sharing of finances between state and municipality and determine grant in aids.
  • Article 243-ZA: State Election Commission (independent of Election Commission of India) conducts election for every Municipal Corporation (term of 5 years).
  • 73rd AMENDMENT of 1992: It came into force on 24 April 1993 adding Part-IX (Articles 243 to 243 O) and 11th Schedule in the Indian Constitution. It gave a constitutional status to the Panchayati Raj institutions and also a practical shape to Article 40.
  • Article 40: Based on Gandhian ideology, this Directive Principles of State Policy requires the state to organize village panchayats and endow them with necessary powers and authority.

TIMELINE OF PANCHAYATI RAJ INSTITUTIONS IN INDIA:

1952: Community development program started.

1957: Balwant Rai Mehta committee recommended a Three-level Panchayati Raj system at local level on a regular basis.

1959: Panchayati Raj system was first adopted in Nagaur district of Rajasthan. 

1977: Ashok Mehta committee recommended a Two-tier system in Panchayati raj system.            But, it could not be implemented.

1985: GVK Rao committee recommended strengthening the Zila Parishads.

1986: LM Singhvi committee recommended strengthening the Gram Sabha, regular elections of Panchayati Raj and constitutional status to them.

1992: 73rd and 74th Amendments Acts were passed and implemented in 1993.

Conclusion:

73rd and 74th Amendments provided a broad guideline to the states for organizing the governance of urban local bodies and rural bodies.  It ensures regular election, devolution of finances, authority to collect tax and some regular functions to such local bodies. They are a step towards realizing Mahatma Gandhi’s dream of ‘Gram Swaraj’.