• The term Panchayati Raj in India signifies the system of rural local self government. It has been established by all of states of India by the Acts of the state legislatures to build democracy at the grass root level. It is entrusted with rural development and was constitutionalised by the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992.
  • The provisions related to the Panchayati Raj Institution was not present in the original constitution, rather it was given as a Directive Principle for the State in Article 40 under Part IV of the Indian Constitution.
  • The Panchayati Raj Institution in India has evolved through various committees constituted by the Government of India. Later, in 1992 the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act was enacted by the Government of India providing a constitutional backing to the institution.
  • Evolution of the Panchayati Raj Institution through various committees and their recommendations have been discussed below:


  • The committee was constituted in January 1957 by the Government of India to examine the working of the Community Development Programme (1952) and the National Extension Service (1952) and suggest measures for their better performance.
  • The committee recommended the establishment of the scheme of ‘democratic decentralisation’ which ultimately came to be known as Panchayati Raj.
  • Following were the recommendations made by the committee:
    1. Establishment of 3-tier Panchayati raj system i.e., gram panchayats at village level, panchayat samiti at block level and zila parishad at district level linked through a device of indirect elections.
    2. Representatives for the village panchayats to elected through direct elections, whereas, representatives of the panchayat samiti and zila parishad to be elected indirectly.
    3. Panchayat Samiti to be the executive body while the zila parishad be the advisory, coordinating and supervisory body.
    4. The district collector should be the chairman of the zila parishad.
    5. There should be a genuine transfer of power and responsibility from states to the local bodies.
  • These recommendations of the committee were accepted by the National Development Council in January 1958. The council did not insist on a single rigid pattern and left it to the states to evolve their own patterns suitable to local conditions, but the basic principle and broad fundamentals should be identical throughout the country..


  • Appointed by the Janata Government in 1977, the committee submitted its report in August 1978 with 132 recommendations to revive and strengthen the declining panchayati raj system in the country.
  • The main recommendations were:
    1. The 3-tier system to be replaced by 2-tier system i.e., zila parishad at district level and mandal panchayat at village level consisting of group of villages having population of 15000-20000.
    2. Zila parishad to be executive body and district to be the first point of decentralisation.
    3. There should be official participation of political parties at all levels of panchayat elections.
    4. The panchayati raj institution should have compulsory powers of taxation to mobilize their own financial resources.
    5. There should be a regular social audit by a district level agency and a committee of legislators.
    6. The state government should not supersede the panchayati raj institution.
    7. Establishment of nyaya panchayats presided by a qualified judge and it should be kept separate from that of development panchayats.
    8. Seats for SCs and STs should be reserved on the basis of their population.
    9. A constitutional recognition should be granted to the Panchayati Raj Institution.
  • Due to the collapse of Janata Government before the completion of its term, no action could be taken on the recommendations of the Ashok Mehta Committee at central level. However, the three states of Karnataka, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh took steps to revitalize the panchayati raj, keeping in view some of the recommendations of the Ashok Mehta Committee.


  • This committee was appointed by the Planning Commission in 1985 to review the existing administrative arrangements for Rural Development and Poverty Alleviation Programmes.
  • The committee concluded that the developmental process was gradually bureaucratized and divorced from the Panchayati Raj, hence weakening the Panchayati Raj Institutions resulting in what is aptly called as ‘grass without roots’.
  • The recommendations are as follows:
    1. Zila Parishad should be of pivotal importance and become main centre for planning and development.
    2. Panchayati Raj Institutions at district and lower levels should be assigned an importance role with respect to planning, implementation and monitoring of rural development programmes.
    3. Some of the planning functions at the state level should be transferred to the district level planning units for effective decentralized district planning.
    4. A post of District Development Commissioner should be created who will act as the chief executive officer of the Zila Parishad and should be in charge of all the development departments at the district level.
    5. Elections to the Panchayati Raj Institutions should be held regularly and proper arrangement of funds and proper decentralisation should be maintained.
    6. Developmental role of District Collector should be reduced.
  • Thus, the committee in its scheme of decentralized system of field administration assigned a leading role to the Panchayati Raj in local planning and development.


  • Rajiv Gandhi government, in 1986, appointed this committee to prepare a concept paper on ‘Revitalisation of Panchayati Raj Institutions for Democracy and Development’.
  • It made the following recommendations:
    1. The Panchayati Raj institutions should be constitutionally recognized, protected and preserved and for this purpose, a new chapter should be added to the Indian Constitution.
    2. Nyaya Panchayat should be established.
    3. The villages should be reorganized to make Gram Panchayats more viable. It also emphasized the importance of the Gram Sabha and called it as the embodiment of direct democracy.
    4. The Village Panchayats should have more financial resources.
    5. Judicial tribunals should be established in each state to adjudicate controversies about elections to the Panchayati Raj institutions their dissolution and other matter related to their functioning.
  • The L.M. Singhvi Committee is one of those committees who recommended for the constitutional status of the Panchayati Raj institutions.


  • In 1988, a sub-committee of the Consultative Committee of Parliament was constituted to examine the political and administrative structure in the district for the purpose of district planning. This committee suggested for the strengthening of the Panchayati Raj system.
  • The recommendations of the committee are as follows:
    1. The Panchayati Raj bodies should be constitutionally recognized.
    2. 3-tier Panchayati Raj system with panachayats at village, block and district levels.
    3. Zila Parishad should act as the planning and development agency in the district.
    4. A fixed tenure of 5 years and the maximum period for super session of a body should be six months.
    5. A planning and coordination committee should be set up at the state level under the chairmanship of minister for planning and presidents of Zila Parishad should be its members.
    6. A detailed list of subjects for Panchayati Raj should be prepared and incorporated in the Constitution.
    7. Reservation of seats should be on the basis of population and there should also be reservation for women.
    8. Establishment of state finance commission in each state.
    9. The district collector should be the chief executive officer of the Zila Parishad.


  • In 1988, the Congress party constituted a Committee on Policy and Programmes. This committee was asked to consider the question of “how best Panchayati Raj institutions could be made effective”.
  • The committee made the following recommendations:
    1. Panchayati Raj institutions should be granted constitutional status.
    2. A 3-tier system of Panchayati Raj.
    3. Term of Panchayati Raj institutions should be fixed at 5 years.
    4. The members of the panchayats at all level should be directly elected.
    5. Reservation for SCs, STs, and women.
    6. The Panchayati Raj bodies should have the responsibility of preparation and implementation of plans for socio-economic development and they should be empowered to levy, collect and appropriate taxes and duties.
    7. Establishment of State Finance Commission and State Election Commission.
  • The above recommendations became the basis for drafting an amendment bill aimed at conferring the constitutional status and protection to the Panchayati Raj.


  • Rajiv Gandhi Government: The Rajiv Gandhi Government introduced the 64th Constitutional Amendment Bill in 1989 to constitutionalise panchayati raj institutions and make it more powerful. The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha but was not approved by the Rajya Sabha due to opposition on the ground that it sought to strengthen centralization in the federal system.
  • V.P. Singh Government: Following a two-day conference of the state chief ministers under the chairmanship of the then Prime Minister V.P. Singh a constitutional amendment bill was introduced in Lok Sabha in 1990 for strengthening of the panchayati raj bodies. However, the bill lapsed due to the fall of the government.
  • P.V. Narasimha Rao Government: A constitutional amendment bill was introduced in Lok Sabha in 1991 which finally emerged as the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992 and came into force in 24 April, 1993.


  • This Act added Part IX (Articles 243-243(O)) and Schedule 11 to the Constitution of India.
  • This Act provided for the compulsory as well as provisional or optional provisions.
  • Compulsory provisions:
    1. Organisation of Gram Sabha.
    2. Panchayati Raj should be constituted at village, block and district level i.e., 3-tier panchayati raj system.
    3. All seats in Panchayati Raj shall be filled by members chosen through direct elections.
    4. Minimum age of contesting election for Panchayati Raj is 21 years.
    5. Tenure of panchayats fixed at 5 years.
    6. Reservation of seats for SCs and STs should be in proportion of their population and for women it should not be less than 33%.
    7. State should constitute State Election Commission for conducting elections and State Finance Commission every 5 years to review financial position of the panchayats.
  • Voluntary or optional provisions:
    1. Reservation for backward classes.
    2. Financial autonomy to levy taxes, fees, etc.
    3. Representation of members of Parliament and state legislatures.