Evolution of Panchayati Raj

Balwant Rai Mehta Committee (1957) was the first committee that recommended the establishment of the scheme of ‘democratic decentralization’ which ultimately came to be known as Panchayati Raj. Some of the major recommendations made by the committee are:

    1. Establishment of a three-tier panchayati raj system
    2. The village panchayats should be constituted with directly elected representatives
    3. Planning and development should be entrusted to them
    4. Adequate resources should be transferred to these bodies
    5. Proper system should be put place in to realize the devolution of powers

Rajasthan was the first state to establish Panchayati Raj. It was inaugurated in 1959 in Nagaur district. Most of the states created the system in their states. However, there were wide-ranging differences between them. Some states had adopted two-tier system, others three-tier and four-tier. The manner of devolution of power was also varying across the country.

Ashok Mehta Committee (1977)

Was appointed by the Janata government to make recommendations to strengthen and revive these institutions which were becoming weak. Some of its main recommendations were:

  1. Three-tier system should be replaced with two-tier system
  2. A district should be the first point for decentralization
  3. ZP should be executive body
  4. There should be official participation of the political parties
  5. They should have compulsory powers of taxation
  6. Regular social audit
  7. Elections should be held within six months if Panchayati institutions are superseded
  8. A minister for Panchayati raj should be appointed at the state
  9. Reservation of seats for SC and ST
  10. Constitutional recognition to these institutions

GVK Rao committee (1985)

It was appointed by the Planning Commission. The committee observed that bureaucratization of these institutions as the major reason behind the lackadaisical performance of panchayati institutions. Some of the important recommendations made by the committee are:

  1. ZP should be unit for democratic decentralization
  2. PRI at the district and lower levels should be assigned an important role with respect to planning, implementation and monitoring
  3. A post of district development commissioner should be created. He should be in-charge of the development departments at district level
  4. Elections to PRI should be conducted regularly

LM Singhvi committee (1986)

It was appointed by the Rajiv Gandhi government. Some of the recommendations made by this committee vis-à-vis PRI include:

  1. It should be constitutionally recognized
  2. Nyaya panchayats should be established for a cluster of villages
  3. Placed emphasis on Gram Sabha as the centre for democratic decentralization
  4. Village panchayats should have more resources
  5. Judicial tribunals should be established to adjudicate judicial matters related to PRI