Describe the salient features of the Rural and Urban Local Governance under the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Act.

The acts give a constitutional status to the panchayati raj institutions/Municipalities. It has brought them under the purview of the justiciable part of the Constitution. In other words, the state governments are under constitutional obligation to adopt the new system in accordance with the provisions of the act. Consequently, neither the formation nor the holding of elections at regular intervals depend on the will of the state government any more.

The provisions of the act can be grouped into two categories—compulsory and voluntary. The compulsory (mandatory or obligatory) provisions of the act have to be included in the state laws creating the new system. The voluntary provisions, on the other hand, may be included at the discretion of the states. Thus the voluntary provisions of the act ensures the right of the states to take local factors like geographical, politico–administrative and others, into consideration.

Even after conferring the constitutional status and protection through the 73rd and 74th Amendment Acts (1992) and , the performance of the Local Bodies have not been satisfactory and not upto the expected level. The various reasons for this sub-optimal performance are as follows:

  1. Lack of adequate devolution: Many States have not taken adequate steps to devolve 3Fs (i.e., functions, funds and functionaries) to the PRIs to enable them to discharge their constitutionally stipulated function.
  2. Excessive control by bureaucracy: In some States, the Gram Panchayats have been placed in a position of subordination.
  3. Tied nature of funds: This has two implications. The activities stated under a certain scheme are not always appropriate for all parts of the district. This results in unsuitable activities being promoted or an underspend of the funds.
  4. Overwhelming dependency on government funding: A review of money received and own source funds shows the overwhelming dependence of Panchayats on government funding. When Panchayats do not raise resources and instead receive funds from outside, people are less likely to request a social audit.
  5. Reluctance to use fiscal powers: An important power devolved to GP (Gram Panchayat) is the right to levy tax. Very few Panchayats use their fiscal power to levy and collect taxes. The argument pushed by Panchayat heads is that it is difficult to levy tax on your own constituency, especially when you live in the community.
  6. Status of the Gram Sabha: Empowering the Gram Sabhas could have been a powerful weapon for transparency, accountability and for involvement of the marginalized sections. However, a number of the State Acts have not spelt the powers of Gram Sabhas nor have any procedures been laid down for the functioning of these bodies or penalties for the officials.
  7. Creation of Parallel Bodies: Often, Parallel Bodies (PBs) are created for supposedly speedy implementation and greater accountability. PBs usurp the legitimate space of Local Governments and demoralize the Local Governments by virtue of their superior resource endowments.
  8. Poor Infrastructure: A large number of Local Governments in the country do not have even full time Secretary.

Synopsis

PaperAPPSC Group 1 Mains 2020 – Paper III: Polity, constitution, Governance, Law, and Ethics
Question5 (b). Describe the salient features of the Rural and Urban Local Governance under the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Act.
SourceIndian Polity by M Laxmikanth
ChaptersLocal Government – Panchayat Raj and Municipalities

Analysis

Two questions 3(a) and 5(b) are almost same. But to delineate the answers for both questions, Provisions of Constitutional Amendment Acts can be written for question 3(a) whereas the actual performance with some provisions can be noted for question 5(b).