Urbanisation has been creating so many problems and there is a wide gap between urban and rural India. Actually there are two countries within one, viz. India and Bharat. In Bharat 80 per cent of the total population lives and they are backward. In any opinion, it is not only those who are identified by the Mandal Commission are backward, but the whole rural population are backward. According to the whole of rural society is backward. This Bill is the dream of late Shri Rajiv Gandhi and it was his idea to take India to the 21st Century. As conceived by him, this Bill is the real stepping stone for the all round progress of this country.
Secondly, the term of the local bodies is prescribed as five years. This is good. Shri Syed Shahabuddin has said that it should be three years. I do not agree with the hon. Member and I do not appreciate his point. Holding elections every now and then will be very expensive. We have to see this aspect from that point of view also. Moreover, people should have time to implement plans and programme as devised by them. Therefore the time-frame of five years is completely justified.
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As far as developmental aspects are concerned., I feel one or two points have been left out. One of them is the cooperatives.
Cooperatives are now in a very poor condition and the public sector is not reaching out to villages. It has been the experience of Maharashtra that if there is a cooperative institutions, we could generate rural economy. In addition to that, if we have cooperative institutions like the sugar factory or spinning mills, it will generate employment fort the rural poor. This is an important aspect.
I would request the hon. Minister to include this cooperative sector in the 11 th Schedule of the Bill.
Another thing which is missing in the Bill is the Horticulture.
It is more important today when the Government and the whole world is thinking of deriving the environmental benefits. I request the hon.
Minster to include horticulture as one of its programmes for economic development. In rural areas, activities like the fishery, forestry and so on can generate a good amount of rural economy.
I will now talk about the three-tier system. I have some doubts about the intermediate institution at the Taluka level. I do not know how the State Government will create this institution. I do not know what exactly is the thinking of the Government in brining this point in the Bill. I am not clear about the perception of the Bill, as to what it means by second intermediate provision. When the State Government gives certain powers, with regard to tax collection or administration, it may not be become only a political institution.
The three tiers should be distributed in such a way that is even distribution of rights and dutie which are suitable to the local conditions and resources. If some indifference is shown while distributing the powers to the local units, it will totally hamper all the developmental activities. There is no clear direction with regard to this.
The Government has proposed an amendment that at the district level indirect
708 Constitution (Seventy-Sec. Amend.) Bill (Ins. of new part IX) Constitution (Seventy Third Amend.) Bill (Ins. of new part IX-A) election should be there. I do not agree with it because indirect elections can easily be managed and manipulated by powerful people who have vested interest in the rural areas. I think there should be no harm in going for the direct election. It has been done in Karnatak also. Independent elections for all the Chairpersons should be held as it was conceived earlier and the Government amendment need not be taken up.
I support both these Bills as they propose to bring back a healthy rural economy, as conceived by Mahatma Gandhi.
SHRI RAMASHRAY PRASAD SINGH (Jahanabad): Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I am grateful to you that you gave me an opportunity to speak. First of all the proposed 72nd and 73rd Amendment in the constitution is a historic step. The reason being that Mahatma Gandhi expressed his desire for setting up of 'Ram-Rajya' Moreover, when I was no more a Member of this House since I resigned on July 27 the then Prime Minister late Shri Rajiv Gandhi had expressed his views in the month of October and I quote that only 15 per cent of the total funds sanctioned under the Jawahar Rozgar Yojana and mean for gram Panchayats reaches rural areas and the remaining 85 percent is eaten up by middlemen. Since then it has been a part of our thinking and in view of all there things the Constitution Amendment Bill has been brought.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, secondly, Panchayat system had become just a mockery in several states if not in all the states in the country. Though we get information through news papers that regular Panchayat elections are held in some states like West Bengal, Maharashtra and Gujarat etc., but most of the states treat Panchayats as their legacy and have given the complete charge in the hands of a single person. That is why no reformation could take place in rural areas so far. Everybody is aware of this situation and keeping in view these circumstances, we have raised the voice of
709 Constitution (Seventy-Sec. Amend.) Bill (Ins. of new part IX) Constitution (Seventy Third Amend.) Bill (Ins. of new part IX-A) a common man here. I would like to submit that the Government deserves to be appreciated that the term of Panchayats has been restricted.
Though, there is nothing new in it. When our country was under subjugation, the people of this country fought against the Britishers and succeeded in achieving a few things they succeeded in getting a limited power, under which we set up Zila Parishads, local Boards and Union Boards., Since then , direct elections to these bodies were held and they were the medium through which work in the fields of medium education and health was accomplished. But there was deterioration as soon as we attained independence and got power in our own hands and a single party formed the Government. That single party Government ruled for along time.When it become weak,, the elections to district boards and local bodies were as stopped and these bodies were placed in charge of officers.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, it is a matter of concern that we struggled for long to attain these things and the Congress set all these things and naught. Rather this Government did not bother to protect these systems. Now Panchayati Raj has been implemented in states under Article 40 of the Constitution, as a result of which State Governments constituted Panchayats. Today amendment has been brought to restrict its term. It makes it evident that the amendment is appreciating. How ever, there are certain factors for instance states have been given the right to constitute Panchayats under Article 40 and an amendment has been brought to protect that right.
But the Government has ignored Article 243 under which Legislative council shall make provision by law. This Article has been ignored because the right of the state Government over Panchayat may continue.
Another point raised by the hon. Members of the House is that the Pradhan should be elected directly. I support this view. The Chief Minister from Legislative Assembly is not elected directly nor the Prime Minister from Lok Sabha is elected directly. But the Pradhan should be elected directly because Panchayat is a very small 710 Constitution (Seventy-Sec. Amend.) Bill (Ins. of new part IX) Constitution (Seventy Third Amend.) Bill (Ins. of new part IX-A) unit representing 5 to 10 thousand people and it is the backbone of democracy. The Pradhan may not break.
I have been reiterating in this House if there is no reservation in Panchayat, candidates from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes would never get opportunity to rise. It is good that women have been given representation.
There are some shortcomings in it which should be removed I support the proposal of recall. It is a very essential to strengthen democracy. We may have to go if we do not perform well and on the other hand, if we perform well,our opponents will be defeated. It is a long process., It will become more effective if it is implemented in a lawful manner.
Since time is short, I conclude.
SHRI PIUS TIRKEY (Alipurduars) : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I support this Bill as a whole but I would like to raise some very important points which none of the Members has raised. The tribals have their own system in tribal areas and it has been existing for a long time. Panchayat system is disturbing that system, particularly Mankimunda system. Mankimunda has got the complete authority to decide, all the land disputes. They posses even police powers from the days of British regime. Police officers cannot file a false case without taking the consent of Mankimunda. They possess administrative as well as police powers. They do not have powers only in murder cases. Police is free to interfere in such cases. But they have complete authority to decide matters in all other respects including all types of disputes. In the prevailing circumstances it is difficult to get justice, poor people and tribals are being deprived of their rights, they are being displaced, there is none to hear them. They had right to catch fish in rivers etc. and Panchayat is disturbing them even in this field. They may enjoy these rights at least in their own state such as Nagaland.
Tribals are being distributed in some
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states, particularly in Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa etc. where they are in large number. Without giving any prior information to them they are displaced and industries are set up at those places. They have no right to raise their voice. Thousands of acres of land has been snatched from the tribals in Rourkela, Bokaro and Ranchi.This has been the cause of wide spread resentment among the tribals. No proposals are taken up for their upliftment even in our Parliament. They are being harassed from all sides. Reservation will have to be provided to them at places where they are in majority.
Tribals, who never begged, are forced to do so. The Government will have to improve their economic condition.
Only those candidates are elected in Panchayats who dance to the tune of influential people. Mankimunda system should be restored in tribal areas, only then Panchayati Raj would function smoothly otherwise it will be an utter failure. Today, Adivasis are being deprived of their rights and being displaced from their native places.
All of you are already aware that Shri Sharma was paraded naked in the entire market in Madhya Pradesh. The situation has deteriorated to this extent.
It is my submission to the Government that Mankimunda system should be restored in all those areas where the tribals are in majority This is my only submission.
SHRI BHUPINDER SINGH HOODA (Rohtak): Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I rise to support this Bill. This Bill should have been brought 45 years ago, but now it is going to realise the dream of Gandhiji, I don't think that the form in which this Bill has been presented, would be effective to implement Panchayati Raj or Gram Swarajya completely.
However, it is a first step towards that direction.
It was after the period of 40 years that Shri Rajiv Gandhi thought of bringing about Gram Swarajya'and to realise the dream 712 Constitution (Seventy-Sec. Amend.) Bill (Ins. of new part IX) Constitution (Seventy Third Amend.) Bill (Ins. of new part IX-A) of Mahatma Gandhi and now it is being realised. How to form Panchayats and what should be its term have been included in this Bill.
When the Constituent Assembly was considering the Draft Constitution, it did not even make a reference to it. When I read the proceedings of Drafting Committee, I found that only a single Member Shri Munshi who had got the opportunity to live in rural areas, was there in the Constituent Assembly. When the Draft Constitution was introduced in the Constituent Assembly, a number of senior hon. Member were there in the Constituent Assembly, a number of senior hon.
Members were there in the Constituent Assembly including Shri H.V.
Kamath, Rangaji, Shibban Lal Saxena and my father Ch. Ranbir Singh.
All of them including hon. Narayan Singh and Ranbir Singh expressed their reactions to it. And only after that, it was included in the Directive Principles. I have been the Chairman of Panchayat samiti in Rohtak. As per my experience as such, I may say that it was the only system existed at intermediate level in Haryana though the Bill is being presented today. The Chairman has no supervisory powers. So, merely having an institution is of no meaning unless the work accomplished there is supervised by Chairman. As Shri Mani Shankar Aiyar has already pointed out that of all levels direct election is a must whether it is Panchayat Samiti.Panchayat or Zila Parishad. Good polices have been formulated in our country and the contribution of Shri Rajiv Gandhi too has been considered in this respect. But he also admitted that only 15 percent of the total funds reaches the rural areas. What is the reason? Complete hold of bureaucracy in these matters is the reasons. The situation cannot be changed unless the interference of buroacracy in the development works at village level is removed. An IAS officer is not the only person to be considered as bureaucrat, rather the functionary like Gram Sewak or secreatary, who looks after the entire work of Panchayat is also bureaucrat. The Pradhan of Gram Sabha or the gram Panchayat has got no control over them. He does not put up any appraisal through out the year nor any elected
713 Constitution (Seventy-Sec. Amend.) Bill (Ins. of new part IX) Constitution (Seventy Third Amend.) Bill (Ins. of new part IX-A) person is the reviewing authority of such appraisals. The Chairman of the Panchayat Samiti, which is called as intermediate level, has got no power as he does not write his report nor BDO has any reviewing authority in Zila Parishad. I narrate, an incidence from my own experience. First day, when I went to join the meeting of Panchayat Samiti, I was well in time and he office time was from 9.00 a.m. There were Some employees including accountants etc. who were also supposed to be represent there in time. But I found 5-6 employees absent. When I marked them absent, the BDO objected to it. I told him that since I was supervisor, I could do it, he said that I had no authority to do that. How is it possible to get work done by the employees if the supervisor has no authority to check them? How will it be possible to utilize funds for development works allocated by the Government for the purpose.
The second amendment brought about the financial power is that the Panchayat Samiti will pass the resolution regarding financial power and it is to be entrusted one person, that is the B.D.O.. It should not be like that and the financial power rest with the financial Committee whether it is at the block committee level or at the level of District Council.
We have to ponder as to what other things besides panchayats are necessary for villages. Co-operative Society is one such thing; after the nationalisation of the Co-operative Societies, what is required is that the elections should be made mandatory. Secondly, waterways and several other things have been included in the 11th Scheduled.
Waterways department deals with the affairs of canals. Waterways department deals with the affairs of canals. Patwari is not responsible to the Sapranch of a Gram Panchayat. A Patwari deals with revenue matters. The Sarpunch of the gram Panchayat cannot interfere in his work. This is not a supervisory function. Things in villages will not improve unless the Gram Panchayat is given the supervisory function wand these
714 Constitution (Seventy-Sec. Amend.) Bill (Ins. of new part IX) Constitution (Seventy Third Amend.) Bill (Ins. of new part IX-A) are Co-operative revenue, irrigation, education etc. Now, there has been nationalisation of education. When the S.S. Board selects as teacher and appoints him in a village, the Pancyahat Samiti or any person of that village has got absolutely no control on the teacher even when *the teacher neglects his duty by not teaching the students.
During the British period all such powers were with the district council. As a matter of fact, the Sarpanch of a village and the Panchayat should be vested with the responsibility to watch as to which teacher is teaching the students and which one is not doing so.
And their remarks should have significance and weightage even if the matter concerns financial power.
Gram Panchayat has no check even over the police. Following any incident, the police goes to the village and arrests 20 persons in any arbitrary manner without any consultation with the Panchayat of the village. The dream of Gram Swaraj may be made possible in the real sense only when the villages are made integrated units giving all such powers to gram Panchayat.
There was also a discussion regarding district planning committees. The district planning committees should come under the District Council. If the District Planning Committee has an independent existence, then there will hardly be any co-ordination between the Planning and implementation and this will ultimately result into noncompetition of the scheme. The power of
appraisal being enjoyed by the B.D.Os at present should be terms ferred to the chairman of the Panchayat Samiti and similarly the reviewing power should be transferred to the Chairman of the District Council. Mr. Nitish Kumar had, a little while ago, pleaded for a direct election but out colleagues belonging to the Communist party objected to this proposal and therefore this proposal was put to an end. Well, the same issue was raised in the Constituent Assembly 45 years back. The question was -
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Whether the individual is for the State or the State if for the individual.
As a result Mahatma Gandhi introduced Panchayati Raj.