State election commission
The State Election Commission was organized after the declaration of 73rd and 74th amendment to the Constitution of India. The objective was to create a democratic administration via local bodies within the reach of common people for social and economic justice.
The State Election Commission of each State is vested with the powers of 'superintendence, direction and control' for the preparation of electoral rolls. The Commission is also responsible to conduct elections to the urban and rural local bodies namely City Corporation, City Municipal Corporation, Town Municipal Corporations, Town Panchayats, Zilla Panchayats, Taluk Panchayats and Gram Panchayats. Each state conducts the elections to the local bodies regularly in accordance with the provision of the Sate Acts and Rules.
According to the election rules of local self government bodies, District Election Officer for Panchayat elections, District Municipal Election Officer for elections of municipality and City Election Officer for the elections of municipal corporation are appointed for carrying out various activities related to the elections. But the delimitation and allocation of seats for all reserved categories, voter's list, election programmes are carried out by the State Election Commission only.
As per the directives of the Supreme Court of India where the ordained laws are silent or make inadequate provision to deal with a given situation in the conduct of elections, the Election Commission has the residual powers under the Constitution to act in a suitable manner. The same holds for the State Election Commissions also.
The Municipal Corporations are also known as Mahanagar Palikas or Mahanagar Nigams. Each corporation has a committee which consists of a Mayor and Councillors. Mayor is the head. The members of the Municipal Corporations are elected directly by the people for a term of five years. The seats are reserved for women, SC and ST. Nevertheless, the procedure for elections to various municipal bodies is not uniform as the municipalities are under the jurisdiction of the State.
The Panchayati Raj in India is a three-tier system consisting of Gram (village), Block(Janpad) and Zila (District).
Gram (Village) Panchayats
The Panchayat is the basic unit of the three-tier structure. It is an executive body of the village. People of the village directly elect the representatives of the village. People who are registered as voters and do not hold any office of profit under the Government are eligible for the election to the Panchayat. The individuals who have any criminal record are not qualified to contest the elections. The Panchayat has an elected chairman, popularly known as Sarpanch. As a local body the Panchayat is accountable to the general body of the village called Gram Sabha.
The main functions of the village panchayat includes maintenance of roads, wells, schools, public health, street lighting, libraries, reading rooms etc. The Panchayat also keeps records of births and deaths in the village. It also resolves the minor disputes among the people. It takes necessary measures for the promotion of agriculture and animal husbandry, cottage industries etc.
Block (Janpad) Level
It is the intermediate structure within the three-tier structure. It normally consists of 20 to 60 villages. At this level there is a Panchayat Samiti. It consists of:
- About 20 members nominated from the Panches of all the Panchayats.
- Two female members, one SC and one ST.
- Two people having experience of public life and administration.
- Representatives of the cooperatives.
- The chairman of the Panchayat Samiti known as Pradhan is elected by the Samiti members. The tenure of the Panchayat Samiti is five years.
The main function of the Samiti is to coordinate the work of all the Panchayats that fall within its jurisdiction. It looks after all the development work. After getting the plans approved by State government the role of the Samiti is to ensure that these plans are implemented.
Zila (District) Parishad
The Zila Parishad stands at the peak of the three-tier system. The constitution of Zila Parishad is different in different states. The members of the Parishad are elected by universal adult suffrage for a period of five years. It has minimum 50 members and can have a maximum of 75 members. The Collector or Deputy Commissioner is also the member. There are reserved seats for women, SC and ST. The head of the Zila Parishad is the CEO.
It looks after all the work related to development in the district. All the welfare programmes are executed by the Parishad only. It also undertakes construction of roads, schools for children and other public buildings. It also encourages local industries.
Last Updated on October 30, 2014