Panchayati Raj System

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Local self-governments are vital for the progress of the country. It helps the officials to evaluate the ground level efficiency of their policies and programs. Panchayats and municipalities were established through the 73rd and 74th amendment acts of the Indian constitution.

Development of Panchayati Raj Institution

Balwant Rai Mehta Committee and Ashok Mehta Committee were set up in 1957. The 73rd and 74th constitutional amendment act was passed in the year 1992, P.V. Narasimha Rao was the prime minister of India then. Earlier, the Balwant Rai Mehta Committee had submitted an insightful and detailed report in 1957.

The important recommendations of the committee included establishment of a three-tier Panchayati Raj system comprising Gram Panchayat (village level), Panchayat Samiti (block level), and Zilla Parishad (district level).

The National Development Council had accepted the recommendations, however they did not insist on a single and definite pattern for establishing these institutions. Rajasthan became the first state to adopt the system followed by Andhra Pradesh. A few states had four-tier systems including Nyaya Panchayats (judicial bodies). Usually, state governments assign powers to the panchayats for ensuring economic progress and implementing social justice. The panchayats can also collect taxes.          

The planning commission established the GVK Rao committee. The District Development Commissioner served as the chief executive officer of the Zilla Parishad. 

L M Singhvi Committee (1986)

  • It was constituted by the Rajiv Gandhi government for revitalisation of Panchayati Raj institutions.
  • Constitutional recognition for PRI was one of the important recommendations of the committee.

Gram Sabha

It is the largest/primary body of the Panchayati Raj system. Gram Sabha is a permanent body (Article 243(b)) which is created for the welfare of the villagers. Each gram sabha will have one or more villages.

A person who is more than 18 years old and has his name enrolled in the electoral roll of the village panchayat, can be part of the gram sabha.

Powers and Functions

The different powers and functions of gram sabha include:

  • Implementing development schemes and conducting programs of the village panchayat.
  • Identifying the beneficiaries of various schemes and programs.
  • Requesting support from the people of the village in various welfare programs/schemes.  
  • The gram sabha supports different mass education and family welfare programs.
  • Deals with matters relating to taxes or charges.


Our country follows the three-tier structure of the Panchayati Raj.

Village Level

Gram Sabha is a permanent/primary body that is headed by the Gram Panchayat. 

The gram panchayat comprises Panch and Sarpanch who are elected for a period of 5 years. The secretary of the gram sabha will be appointed by the government. The secretary is responsible for calling the meetings of Gram Sabha and the Gram Panchayat, he maintains the records of these meetings as well.

Functions of Gram Panchayat

  • The primary function of the gram panchayat is to implement/execute various government schemes and programs. 
  • Identifying ‘beneficiaries’ in case gram sabha fails to do so.
  • Gathering taxes.
  • Construction/maintenance of public properties (roads, schools, hospitals).

Intermediate Level

Panchayat Samiti/Anchalik/Janpad/Block Panchayat exists at the intermediate level. The Block Development Officer (BDO) will have a number of villages under him.

District Level

Taking help from the Panchayar Samitis, all the development plans are made by the Zila Parishad at district levels. Block development officers function under the Zilla Parishad.

To be noted

  • Seats are filled with direct elections at all levels.
  • Seats are reserved for SCs and STs.
  • 1/3rd of the seats are reserved for women.  


Key Differences Between Gram Sabha and Gram Panchayat

  • While the Gram Sabha is a permanent and legislative body, Gram Panchayat is a temporary and executive body.
  • While Gram Sabha comprises all the people who are present in the electoral roll of the village, who are of 18 years of age or more, the Gram Panchayat comprises ward members and Sarpanch. 
  • The members of Gram Sabha are not elected. On the other hand, the members of Gram Panchayat are directly elected. 



In this blog we have discussed about the Gram Panchayat system, functions of Panchayat etc.

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