Constitutional Dimension of India.
The 7th schedule under Article 246 of the Indian Constitution specifies the subject of local government. However, the states are given the responsibility of making local government legislation’s. The state legislature legislates with respect to local government regarding the constitution and powers of municipal corporations, district boards, mining settlement authorities and other local authorities for the purpose of local self-government or administration of village. In case, the state governor refers something, the presidential veto over state legislation can be exercised.
The 73rd and 74th amendments to the Constitution draw their inspiration from Arts. 40, 46, 47, 48 and 48- A of the Indian Constitution. Article 40 covers the subject regarding the organization of village panchayats by the state while the promotion of educational and economic interests of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other Weaker Sections is dealt in Article 46. To raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living of its people and the improvement of public health has been given in Article 47 as the duty of the state. According to the Article 48, the State is enjoined to endeavor to organize agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines. In Article 48A, the State is required to endeavor to protect and improve the environment and safeguard the forests and wild life of the. country. For achieving this goal, local self-government is considered for policy-making and delegation of power and authority to local administration is required.
Move for Constitutional Status.
During 1985-1992, the then Prime Minister, late Mr. Rajiv Gandhi took the initiative of providing panchayats a constitutional status. After various deliberations, a broad consensus emerged that a. democratic framework at the local level with constitutional legitimacy way essential to develop these institutions as ‘responsive’ instruments of planning and development at the local level of the administration.
Therefore, it was realized that constitutional status was imminent, to secure timely elections, periodic and appropriate funds, avoid frequent dissolution’s, institute planning etc. Setting up of grassroots democracy through concrete measures at institutionalization of cooperative effort at successive levels, rationally related to implementation vantage points was considered a necessary precondition fol*success of any such future efforts. Thus, under Balwantrai Mehta a committee was constituted to inquire into the causes behind lack of expected success in the Community Development Program (CDP). The committee recommended a three-tier model which was promptly accepted and followed up by states. But the practice was far removed from what was conceived.
The PRIs started declining in the 1960s. For the time being due to food shortage, an immediate concern, the goal of participatory democracy was, set aside in favor of the ‘Grow More Food’ Campaign, which ultimately became the rallying cry of the Green Revolution. Maheshwari notes that in the process, the orientation of the economy had changed from participatory grass roots democracy to area-wise sectoral development approach, through schemes like the IRDP and the NREP, which could be implemented mainly through the instrumentality of the bureaucracy.
When the Janata govertunent came to power it tried a initiative by constituting the Ashok Mehta Committee. The committee recommended the need for constitutional status to PRIs for long-term viability. However, the issue was lost in political vicissitudes in the period 1985-1992. Later, in 1980s Prime Minister Mr. Rajiv Gandhi introduced draft legislation in the form of 64th and 65th constitutional amendment. Subsequently, the 73rd and, 74th amendment bills were introduced and passed in Dec 1992.