Indian Constitutional Amendments Related to Local Self-Government

The local governments were not much strengthened at the time of their formation. Therefore, the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments were brought, and things drastically changed after the enactments of these amendments.

This law note will mainly discuss the changes brought in the Constitution after enacting the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments.

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What Is the Panchayati Raj System?

Panchayati Raj is a local government formed at the village level where each community has different functions to perform. The Panchayati Raj system aims to develop local self-governments in districts, zones, and villages.

The Panchayati Raj system helps to build the basis of Indian democracy. It recognises the women and members of Scheduled Tribes, Scheduled Castes, Other Backward Classes, and other socially marginalised groups.

The drainage system, street lights, village wells, tanks, and pumps are all maintained by the Gram Panchayat.

Meaning of Municipalities

A municipality is simply an urban local government. It is often a single administrative subdivision with corporate status and the authority to govern itself under local, state, and federal laws.

Constitutional Amendments Related to Local Self-Government

The 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments were brought into the Indian Constitution, which relates to the local self-government. These amendments were brought in 1992 and came into force in 1993.

It is crucial to understand that the 73rd Constitutional Amendment deals with the Panchayati Raj System, whereas the 74th Constitutional Amendment brought changes to the municipality’s system. Let’s now discuss both amendments in detail.

73rd Constitutional Amendment

This amendment brought changes to the rural local government that is on the village level. Furthermore, a three-tier system was formed that is:

  • Zilla Panchayat, which covers the entire rural area of the district;
  • Then comes the intermediary level, which is not needed in small states; and at last comes the Gram Panchayat, which covers a village or group of villages.

Changes brought by the 73rd Constitutional Amendment

The 73rd Constitutional Amendment brought changes in various subjects. We will now study each of them one by one:

Three-tier system

  • The creation of a Gram Panchayat was made necessary.
  • The amendment further added that the Gram Sabha would include all adult members who are registered voters in the Panchayat area.
  • The state legislation will decide the role and functions of the Gram Sabha.

Election

  • After this amendment, the elections of all three levels of the Panchayati Raj system will be done directly by the people.
  • The elected Panchayat will have a tenure of 5 years.
  • In case the Panchayat is dissolved before the completion of its tenure, then fresh elections shall be held within the period of six months.

Reservations

  • The one-third position was reserved for women in the Panchayat.
  • States may provide reservations for the other backward classes (OBC).
  • The reservations listed in the amendment will apply to ordinary members and also the chairperson of all three levels.

Transfer of Subjects

  • All the 29 subjects present in the state list are transferred to the Eleventh Schedule of the Constitution so that the Panchayati Raj institutions can also make laws on those subjects.
  • Moreover, the actual transfer of these functions lies in the state legislature.

74th Constitutional Amendment

All the changes brought in the 73rd Constitutional Amendment were the same as those brought in the 74th Constitutional Amendment. The only difference is that this amendment dealt with urban local bodies or Nagarpalikas.

A Nagarpalika, also known as a town municipality, is an urban local body that administers a city with a minimum population of 100,000 but less than 1,000,000.

Relation Between the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments

  • The 74th Amendment is the same as the 73rd Amendment; the only difference is that the 74th Amendment applies to urban areas, and the 73rd Amendment applies to local areas.
  • All provisions or changes brought by the 73rd Constitutional Amendment are in the same way applied to the 74th Amendment, and therefore, it also applies to the Nagarpalikas or urban bodies. (In other words: The changes brought by the 73rd Constitutional Amendment in the case of the Panchayati Raj system are the same as the changes brought in the municipality system by the 74th Constitutional Amendment.)
  • The Constitution makes it mandatory that the list of functions that come under the State List will be transferred from the state government to the urban local bodies so that the urban local bodies can make laws on those subjects.
  • These functions have been listed in the Twelfth Schedule of the Indian Constitution.

Conclusion

India has progressed as a nation due to these constitutional changes or amendments brought by the union and state governments.

Previously, before the 73rd and 74th Amendments, the Indian political system consisted of the two Houses of Parliament, State Assemblies, and certain union territories. In contrast, now, the municipality and Panchayat are also part of the Indian political system. Although the system brought by these amendments could solve the problems at the grassroots level, many issues still persist in the system that require solutions.

Read Next: Amendment in the Indian Constitution – Procedure, Modes, and Types

Anushka Saxena
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