All the members of Panchayats at all levels shall be elected directly by the people. But, the Chairperson of Panchayats at the intermediate and district levels shall be elected indirectly by and from amongst the elected members thereof. At the village level chairperson is to be elected in such manner as the state legislature may determine by the law.
Reservation of Seats
Art. 243(D) provides for reservation of seats at all levels for SCs and STs in proportion of their population to the total population in the panchayat area. Further; the State Legislatures shall provide for the reservation of offices of chairpersons in the panchayat at the village or any other level for these communities. Out of the total seats so reserved not less than 1/3 of the seats shall be reserved for women belonging to SCs and STs.
Not less than 1/3 of the total number of seats to be filled by direct elections in every Panchayat area shall be reserved for women. This shall include the seats reserved for the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe women.
Duration of Panchayat
Every panchayat shall continue for five years from the date of its first meeting. It can be dissolved earlier in accordance with the procedure prescribed by the State Legislature. In case it is dissolved earlier, then the elections must take place within 6 months of its dissolution.
The qualification is the same as is required for being chosen as a member of State Legislature. The only difference is that whereas the minimum age for contesting election here is 21 years (25 years in case of State Legislature).
If a question arises as to whether a member has become subject to any disqualification, it shall be referred to such authority as the State Legislature may provide by law.
Powers and Functions
It is for the State Legislature to determine as to what powers are to be assigned to the panchayats to enable them to function as an institution of self-government, These powers may be with respect to preparation and implementation of plans for economic development and social justice, and with regard to matters included in the XI Schedule.
The following form the source of finance for the panchayats:
- by imposition of tax, duties, tolls, etc. as may be permitted by the State Act;
- assignment of taxes, duties, tolls, etc. levied and collected by the State Government;
- grants-in-aid by the State Government;
- funds allocated for developmental activity by the Central or State Government.
State Finance Commission
The Act provides that within an year of coming into force of this Act, and henceforth every five years the State Government shall appoint a State Finance Commission to review the financial position of the Panchayats and suggest different means to augment the same [Art. 243(1)]
State Election Commission
Under Art. 243(K) provision has been made for constitution of a State Election Commission consisting of a State Election Commissioner to be appointed by the Governor. He can be removed on the same grounds as a Judge of a High Court. Powers of Superintendence, direction and control of elections to the panchayats, including preparation of electoral rolls shall vest in the State Election Commission.