Self-governing rural local bodies or democratic decentralization can lead to a more flexible, innovative and creative administrative set up. Decentralization helps to identify the needs and preferences of people through their direct participation in plan formulation and implementation. It empowers weaker sections and overcomes the domination of the elite to certain extent.The father of Nation, Mahatma Gandhi had said that every village has to become self-sufficient republic. This doesn’t require brave resolutions but, it requires brave, corporate and intelligent work. Democracy can be truly empowering at the grass root level only when it is be fully alive to the aspirations and needs of people. For sustainable rural development and good governance at the gross root level is a pre requisite. Governance is not only to govern but, to be governed in accordance with the plans set up by the masses at the grass root level. The creation of institution of Panchayati Raj was a landmark in the Indian history for democracy to percolate deep down to the grass root level. It is largely being seen as a mechanism through which the voice of the unheard could find a place in the planning and implementation process. Charles Metcalfe, the then Provincial Governor General of India (1835-1836) described them as ‘little republics’. Sir Charles Trevelyan also puts it that the Village republics flourished during the Hindu, Muslim and Peshwa governments. The Royal Commission on Decentralization submitted its report in 1907 and recommended the creation of village Panchayats for reducing the financial burden of the provincial governments and for extending the concept of local self-government at the village level. While the traditional Panchayats were based on tradition, the statutory Panchayats had a legal basis. As a result of this the government of the various provinces enacted village Panchayat acts in the second decade of 20th century. In Punjab (including Haryana) Punjab villages Panchayat Act was made in 1912 for creation of statutory Panchayats. It was the first attempt to by the provincial government to provide legal basis to this traditional institution. The Government of India brought the constitutional 73rd Amendment Act, 1992 which become the Panchayati Raj law on April 24, 1993. Panchayats were thus given constitutional status. Consequent to the enactment of the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act, almost all the States/UTs except Arunachal Pradesh enacted appropriate legislations for setting up of strong, viable and responsible Panchayats at different levels in their respective States. However, some States as well as Schedule VI areas in States are exempted from the purview of this enactment. Part IX of the Constitution pertaining to formation of Panchayats is not applicable to the States of Jammu & Kashmir, Hill areas of Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Nagaland. The state of Meghalaya is not within the purview of part IX of the constitution. The State of Jammu & Kashmir was accorded a special status under Article 370 of the Constitution, while the States of Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland are covered by the Schedule VI of the Constitution and the traditional system of local self-government exists in these states. In the NCT of Delhi, the Panchayati Raj was suspended by the State Government and no effective steps have been taken to revive the PRIs till date. Each of the States/UTs has constituted the State Election Commission (SEC) to ensure elections to the PRI’s once in five years. In the J&K assembly in April 1988 and passed in March 1989.The Governor gave his assent to the bill in July 1989 (Agriculture and Rural Development Department Government of J&K). The act provides for a Halqa Panchayat, each Halqa Panchayat shall comprise of such number of Panches, not less than seven and not more than eleven including the Sarpanch as the prescribed authority may fix from time to time. The Panches shall be elected from the constituencies delimited by the prescribed authority. While the Naib-Sarpanch shall be elected by the panches of the Halqa Panchayat from among themselves, the Sarpanch shall be elected directly by the electorate of the Halqa Panchayat. The Halqa Panchayat shall continue to function for a period of five years from the date of its Constitution. If it is dissolved on any reason before this period, elections will be held within six months. A Sarpanch or Naib-Sarpanch can be removed by a vote of no-confidence passed by a majority not less than two-thirds of the total number of panches of the Halqa Panchayat. The act also provides for the formation of Panchayati Adalat. As per the provisions of the Act, the “Halqa” means the area comprising a village or such contiguous number of villages as may be determined by government from time to time, provided that the Halqa shall be determined in such a manner that the population of any Halqa does not exceed 3,000 in the hilly areas and 4,500 in the plain areas. Adalat shall comprise five members to be nominated by the government out of the panel prepared and recommended by the Halqa Panchayat out of its electorate. The person so recommended for a term of five years shall be literate, shall have attained the age of 30 years, not be a Sarpanch or a Panch and not be in the employment of the government or local body or corporation. The government is empowered to enhance the jurisdiction in civil cases up to Rs. 2,000. As per the Cabinet Decision No.40/3/2011 dated 09-02-2011 and Cabinet Decision No. 170/21/2011 dated 21.09.2011 vide Government Order No: 1126-GAD of 2011 dated 22-09-2011, the Government of Jammu and Kashmir ordered the devolution of functions and activities to these institutions as specified in Annexure I to XIV in the following order. This devolution of functions to three-tiers will cover 14 departments of the state government including planning at the grass-root level, supervision of activities and carrying out work programme as per the recommendation of Gram Sabha. The 14 departments include Agriculture Production, Animal and Sheep Husbandry, Consumer affair and Public Distribution, Education (School), Fisheries, Forest, Health and Family welfare, Horticulture, industries and commerce, Public Health Engineering, Public Works department, revenue, rural development and Social welfare.
CHALLENGE S AND ISSUES OF JAMMU AND KASHMIR PANCHAYATI RAJ SYSTEM
Threat from Militancy and Boycott of Separatists: – The challenges of Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj system are much more as compared to other Indian states Panchayati Raj system. The Jammu and Kashmir state is presently suffering from militancy problem which is a major challenge to the Panchayati Raj system from the implementation of J&K Panchayati Raj act 1989.The threat of militancy and separatists’ poll boycott is a major challenge to the Panchayati Raj system of Jammu and Kashmir.
In 2011 total 77% of Valley adult franchise participate in Panchayati Raj election without any militancy threat, but unfortunately latter situation was very Unfavorable as the elected Sarpanch and Panch were troubled about their families, properties, and their life because many Panchs and Sarpanchs were killed by militants in different parts of the Valley. Pakistan sponsored terrorists and Hurriyat were trying to create a fear environment so that the people will not participate in Panchayati Raj election. Because of the pressure and fear from terror groups, many Panches and sarpanches resigned. Two lac of security to elected member of Panches. Thee elected member of Panchayat always remain worried about their life because the situation of state is very wrecks, many Panchs and Sarpanchs were killed by militants in different parts of state. To save their life all elected members demand to state government for security protection but government failed to provide security to elected member of Panchayat.
There is a big contribution of brave Armed forces to the proper implementation of Panchayat Raj System in Kashmir valley as they always guard the people during election and making smooth process of election possible. The “operation All out” led by the forces to make valley terror free gave a boom to the Panchayat Raj system as forces under this operation eliminated most of the wanted A+ category militants who were responsible for unfavorable environment in valley and depicted a positive image among the people and they fully participated in the election. The Historical move led by the BJP led central government on 05 August by abrogation of Article 370 and 35A also played a major role in normalising the situation in the valley. After Abrogation of article 370 and 35 A, there was a huge decline in terror activities, 95% participation in the BDC election and proper distribution of funds upto gross root level become possible.it is clear that the challenges and issues of Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj system is much more as compare to other all Indian Panchayati Raj system challenges and issues. The Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Raj system is temporary Panchayati Raj system; nothing is going in a systematic way. J&K Panchayati Raj system is suffering from a lot of issues and challenges as all above mention. Likewise political condition of state, state dispute, different terrorist organization is also responsible for the creation of great challenges and issues to Panchayat Raj System. These all challenges and issues are created by some politically, socially, economically and disputed condition ofstate. Every State Panchayati Raj System has some challenges and issues but the state of Jammu and Kashmir is only one state of India which have so many challenges.
The Author is a BJP youth leader from Kashmir Valley.