In the 73rd Amendment of the Indian constitutions and in the Karnataka Panchayati Raj Act 1993, Grama Panchayat stands next to the Grama Sabha. At present there are 5673 Gram Panchayat in Karnataka State.
Population and contiguity are the main criteria‟s for the formation of Grama Panchayats in the Karnataka Panchayati Raj Act 1993. In respect of the population, the Act envisages two categories. The first category is of maidan regions; where in a Grama Panchayat is constituted of 5,000 to 7,000 population. The second category is for the regions of Malanad and hill areas such as districts of Belgaum, Chikkamanglore, Dakshina Kannada, Dharwad, Hassan, Kodagu, Shimoga and Uttara Kannada a Grama Panchayat can be formed for the population of not less than 2500. Irrespective of population, the principle of contiguity is another criteria to form the Grama Panchayat. A Grama Panchayat can be formed for the area within a radius of 5 kms. (diameter of 10 kms). The Act also provided the power to the Deputy Commissioner with the previous permission of the state government to form Grama Panchayat for a village or for the group of villages irrespective of the area covered or the population of less than 5000 or more than 7000.
The act provides the power to the concerned Deputy Commissioner to increase or to decrease the area of Grama Panchayat and to alter the head quarter or the name of the Grama Panchayat with a request of the concerned Grama Panchayat or otherwise.
Under the present Act i.e., Karnataka Panchayati Raj Act 1993, Grama Panchayat shall consist only elected members at the rate of one member for every 400 population or part there of the Panchayat area.
The system of reservation is adopted not only for the members but also for the chairpersons of the Panchayat. Out of the total seats of the Grama Panchayat, seats shall be reserved for the:
- Scheduled Caste not less than 15%
- Scheduled Tribes not less than 3%
- Other Backward classes 1/3
The Act also provided for the reservation of 1/3 of the seats in each categories both reserved and unreserved for the women of the respective category. The seats for the reserved categories shall be allotted by rotation to different constituencies on every general election. And there is no bar to the reserved category people to contest for the unreserved constituencies.
Every Grama Panchayat should be a body corporate by the name of Grama Panchayat.
- The member of Grama Panchayat elected in the general election holds office of a term of five years.
- The member elected to the casual vacancy will be of the remaining term of vacant seat.
- The Grama Panchayat is the body subjected to the dissolution by the commissioner provided to make election within six months.
Every Grama Panchayat shall as soon as its formation may choose two members of the Grama Panchayat to be respectively Adhyaksha and Upadhyaksha. In case of vacancy, due to the death, resignation, removal or otherwise, the Grama Panchayat shall choose another member to be the Adhyaksha or Upadhyaksha as the case may be.
To give opportunities to head the Panchayat body provision is made to reserve the Chairperson seats not less than 15% to SC, 3% to ST, 1/3 of the posts for other backward classes in the state and 1/3 of the posts in all categories even including the unreserved category for the women of the respective category. It is also provided to re allot reservation on rotation to different Grama Panchayat.
Term of Office : Adhyaksha and Upadhyaksha of Grama Panchayat will remain in office up to their membership in Grama Panchayat or up to the passing of no confidence motion against them whichever is earlier.
The section 49 of the Act explains the manner and method of no confidence motion against Adhyaksha and Upadhyaksha. A notice signed by 1/3 of the members of panchayat with intention to move the no-confidence motion should be given before 10 days. And that motion should be passed by the majority of not less than 2/3 in a meeting specially held for the purpose.
The Adhyaksha has the following powers:
- Convene meetings of the Grama Panchayat.
- Have access to the records of the Grama Panchayat.
- Exercise supervision and control over the acts of the officers and employees of the Grama Panchayat.
- Convene urgent meetings of Grama Panchayat and its committees.
Upadhaksha shall exercise the powers and performs the duties of the adhyaksha when the Adhyaksha is absent on leave or he is incapacitated from the functioning.
Grama Panchayat works under the mechanism of committee system. The following are the standing committees, which are to be constituted by the election among its members.
- Production Committee: Concerned with agriculture production, animal husbandry, rural industry and poverty alleviation programmes.
- Social Justice Committee: Concerned with the promotion of economic, social, cultural and other interests of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribe and Backward classes. And protection of such caste and classes from social injustice or any form of exploitation and safeguarding the welfare of women and children.
- Amenities Committee: Concerned to education, public health, public works and other functions of Grama Panchyat.
Each committee consists of not less than three and not more than five members. Adhyaksha shall be the ex-officio member and the chairman of the production committee and amenities committee. And Upadhyaksha shall be the ex-officio member and chairman of the social justice committee which shall have one woman member, one SC or ST member. In addition to the usual members, each committee shall be competent to co-opt the members from Farmers‟ Clubs, Mahila Mandals, Yuvak Mandals, and the respresentatives of the co-operative societies.
Section 60 of the Act provides the power to do all acts necessary to perform its functioning.
The functions of the Grama Pachayat are of the following kinds:
- Entrusted Functions.
- Assigned Functions.
- Delegated Functions.
The above kinds of powers are of Civic, Regulatory and Development in nature.
Every Grama Pachayat shall have a whole time secretary who shall be an officer of the Government and shall have salary and allowances from Zilla Panchayat Fund. With the prior approval of the Chief Executive Officer, Grama Panchayat may appoint some other employees for the Grama Panchayat and pay their salary from the Grama Panchayat fund.