Constitutionalisation of PRI

Though Rajiv Gandhi government and VP Singh government made efforts to entrust constitutional status to the PRI, the goal was achieved only during the time of Narasimha Rao government through the passage of 73rd constitutional amendment act

Salient features of the act

Gram Sabha

  • It is a village assembly consisting of all the registered voters in the area of a panchayat
  • It can perform such functions as the state legislature entrusts it with

Three-tier system: It suggests PRI at village, intermediate and district level. Thus, bringing uniformity in the PRI. However, states having a population less than 20 lakh may not setup PRI


  • All the members at the village, intermediate and district level shall be elected directly by the people.
  • The chairperson of the intermediate and district level shall be indirectly elected
  • Chairman of the panchayat shall be elected in such a manner as the state legislature provides for

Reservation of seats:

  • Seats shall be reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in every Gram Panchayat, and the number of seats so reserved shall bear, as nearly as may be, the same proportion to the total number of seats to be filled by direct election in that Panchayat
  • Not less than one-third of the total number of seats reserved under shall be reserved for women belonging to Scheduled Castes, or as the case may be, the Scheduled Tribes.
  • Not less than one-third (including the number of seats reserved for women belonging to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes) of the total number of seats to be filled by direct election in every Gram Panchayat shall be reserved for women and such seats may be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in a Gram Panchayat in such manner as may be prescribed
  • The above reservation is provided for the position of chairperson too
  • The act also authorizes the legislature of the state to make any reservations for backward classes

Duration of Panchayats:

  • The act provides for a five-year term of office to the panchayat at every level. However, PRI can be dissolved before the expiration of the natural term
  • Fresh elections to the PRI should be held:
    • Before the expiry of the natural term
    • In case of dissolution, before the expiry of a period of six months from the date of its dissolution


  • A person shall be disqualified for being chosen as or for being a member of the panchayat if he is so disqualified:
  1. Under any law for the time being in force for the purpose of elections to the legislature of the state concerned
  2. No person can be disqualified on the ground that he is less than 25 years of age if he has attained the age of 21 yeas
  3. All questions related todisqualification shall be referred to such authority as the state legislature determines

State election commission:

  • Superintendence, direction and control of the preparation of electoral rolls and the conduct of all elections to the panchayats shall be vested in the state election commission
  • State election commissioner will be appointed by the governor. He shall not be removed from the office except in the manner and on the grounds prescribed for the removal of a judge
  • The state legislature may make provision with respect to all matters relating to elections to the panchayats

Powers and functions: State legislature may endow the panchayats with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as institutions of self-government

Finances: State legislature may authorize a panchayat to levy, collect and appropriate taxes, providing for making grants-in-aid to the panchayats, provide for constitution of funds for crediting all money of the panchayats


Finance Commission:

  • The governor is empowered to create after every years finance commission which will review the financial position of the panchayats and suggest measures needed to improve the PRI and recommend on any other matter referred to it by the governor
  • It shall make recommendations on the following matters:
    1. Distribution between the state and the panchayats from the net proceed of taxes
    2. Determination of taxes, duties, tolls and fees that may be assigned to the panchayats
    3. Grants-in-aid to the panchayats from the consolidated fund of the state
  • State legislature will provide for the composition, qualification of the FC
  • Central finance commission will also make recommendation on how to consolidate the financial position of the panchayat of a state based on the report of finance commission of the state

Audit: State legislature may provide the manner for auditing of PRI

Application to UT: The president of India may direct that provisions of this act shall apply to any union territory subject to such modification as he may specify

Exempted areas: It does not apply to Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya, scheduled areas and the tribal areas, hill area of Manipur, Darjeeling district of WB. However, parliament may extend the provisions of this part to even these exempted areas with modification as it may specify. In this regard, parliament has enacted, ‘Provisions of the Panchayat (Extension to the scheduled areas) Act, 1996

Bar to interference of court: The act bars the interference by courts in the electoral matters of panchayats. It also mentions the delimitation related to PRI cannot be questioned by the court. Even election petitions shall be entertained based on such mechanism as specified by the state legislature

11th schedule: The act inserted a new schedule which contained areas that come under the purview of the PRI