Panchayat and RTI: A Study of Elections in Punjab


Kamna Sagar

Ph.D. Research Scholar, Centre for Political Studies, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi



Panchayati raj is an essential piece of fair framework in India. It speaks to the dynamism role of the RTI at panchyat level in the nation. The procedure of panchayat race is in smaller than usual, the appointive procedure of the national and state level-delegate bodies. The electorate take an interest during the time spent these decisions with a feeling of inclusion which they show in the appointive procedure of the Parliament and the State Assemblies. In this manner the investigation of the constituent procedure of the Panchayati Raj foundations is as much demonstrative of the mind-set and temper of the electorate as that of the more elevated amount authoritative bodies. Panchayat decisions were the vote based races in which voters took an interest with a feeling of association. The level of their support and their voting conduct could show the developing patterns in the general population political speculation and their view of the rising substances.


KEY WORDS: Electoral issues, law based framework, parliament, RTI, State.



Panchayati raj framework is an interesting commitment of India to the world. From Vedic to the Modern circumstances distinctive traditions have showed up and vanished however the villages has remained the crucial unit of neighborhood organization. Maharishi Valmiki's Ramayana Arthshastra' Manu.s Manusmriti give adequate confirmation of the presence of the Panchayat, as an administering body at the town level. In the early period of British control in any case, the panchayats went under the billows of concealment. For a short period of time these foundations turned out to be practically paralyzed because of the presentation of Zamindari framework. In fact the entire of this old and antiquated structure tumbled down to the express misery and poverty. In the eighteenth century the Panchayat framework again hinted at recovery in the hands of Lord Mayo and Lord Ripon. The determination of 1882 Act and determination is considered as "Magna carta" of neighborhood govt. in India. With this determination the panchayati raj organizations got a legitimate status in British India. Later on the Acts of 1919, 1929 and 1935 contained expound arrangements for the change of Panchayati Raj framework in India.


After the Independence the established constitutional assembly of India began confining the constitution for the free India. Mahatma Gandhi who assumed a key part in the national development put stock in wide based decentralized structure of force with various town panchayats at the base and a national panchayat at the summit level,

chosen by the go-between levels of region and the state panchayats with a definitive control vesting in the hands of the town Panchayat. However, in spite of this view DR B.R.Ambedkar, the executive of drafting panel, saw it as "sink of localism" and a nook of intolerance. So the draft constitution disposed of the town as managerial unit. At the end of the day Gandhian plan of believed was given place in the mandate standards of state approach under article 40 of the constitution which was not sponsored by the legal. Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru Set up Balwant Rai Mehta board to enhance the status of panchayats. Later on Ashok Mehta Committee, G.V.K Rao Committee, L.M. Singhvi boards was shaped to recommend the ways and intends to reinforce these organizations. The credit of constitutionalising these foundations goes to P.V.Narasimha Rao whose govt. in 1992 presented a noteworthy bill in the Parliament to renewed these establishments in the state of 73rd amendment change and got it passed on April 1993 with the endorsement of 3/4 state administrative gatherings. This bill made it obligatory for all the state govt. to change their laws identifying with panchayati raj as per the 73rd Amendment. This revision contained imperative arrangements for the viable working of Panchayat Raj Institutions.


It gives the foundation of a three level framework and intermittent races to these bodies by the state race commission, foundation of a fund commission in each state to audit the budgetary connection between the state and panchayati raj institutions. In this manner the 73rd revision reinforced the foundations of panchayati raj establishments in the majority rule framework in India.


Historical context: A case study of Panchayati Raj System in Punjab

The state of Punjab, arranged in the northwestern part of India, has around 66% of its populace of 243.59 lakhs living in 12,278 towns (2001 census). Contextualizing the past advancement of Panchayati Raj in the state, panchayats were set up originally in the composite area of Punjab in 1912. Panchayats have their underlying foundations in Punjab before the landing of Britishers. After the extension of Punjab in 1849, the Britishers were hesitant to think of it as attractive to energize the working of town/village panchayat. They were occupied with extension of assets which they could use for their advantage. So they passed Punjab Village Panchayat Raj Act in 1912 and replaced in 1939 Act for setting up neighborhood self bodies.


After freedom and the segment of Punjab, the provincial foundations were democratized through another Act called the Punjab Panchayat Act, 1952. The new law accommodated the constitution of rural panchayats on a compulsory premise through all inclusive grown-up suffrage. In any case, because of the lack of concern of govt. only 31 panchayat existed by the year 1916.To restore the framework again Punjab Panchayat Act of 1921 was passed to build up the Panchayat in every one of the towns, yet their number couldn't surpass 300 by 1925-26 and by the end of 1930-32 it expanded to large numbers.


The autonomy had its own particular effect on the advancement of Panchayati Raj framework in Punjab. Punjab was one of only a handful few states in India which interpret Art.40 of the Directive Principles of state policy into reality by passing Punjab Gram Sabha Act in 1952.  This Act is a point of interest in the historical backdrop of panchayat development as this Act looked to build up " Panchayati Raj 'on the Gandhian standards in every town of the state rather than in those rural as gave in the Act of 1939. In 1961, the Punjab State Government redesigned its Panchayati Raj framework in view of the Balwant Rai Mehta Board's proposals. In that capacity, another three-level panchayat framework involving Gram Panchayats at the village level, Panchayat Samitis at the block level and Zila Parishads at the area level appeared. The Panchayati Raj Institutions in the State of Punjab in similarity with Part IX of the Constitution (Constitution (Seventy Third Amendment) Act, 1992).


Subsequently, the Panchayati Raj framework has taken its foundations decently and early however couldn't grow quickly in light of the fact that the govt. tended to be unconcerned with respect to holding the races to these bodies. Punjab keeps on having a three-level panchayat framework with Gram Panchayats at the village level, Panchayat Samiti at the block level and Zila Parishad at the district level. Furthermore, there is the Gram Sabha, which is the fundamental unit in the Panchayati Raj instrument. In any case, however these foundations of neighborhood self-administration have been set up, by and by they don't employ regulatory or legitimate forces of any outcome. The State Government has not finished the devolution of forces to PRIs to raise income and direct their undertakings independently such as Karnataka or Maharashtra.



The villages are grouped into 138 community development blocks and the blocks are grouped into 19 districts -Amritsar, Bathinda, Faridkot, Fatehgarh Sahib, Ferozepur, Gurdaspur etc.(Punjab Government website; 2006). In particular, a three level gives an open door for the support of all areas of the town - ladies, dalits, tribals and other minimized gatherings - in arranging and usage of nearby advancement programs. It comprises of a Sarpanch and number of Panches (extending from five to thirteen). The quantity of Panches is reliant on the populace taking Gram Sabha to be a multi-part single voting publically, these records are typically kept in the care of the Sarpanch (PRIA(2003) Gram Sabha and Panchayats, New Delhi.) Every Gram Panchayat/panchayat samiti/ Zila parishad must constitute the accompanying Standing Committees


Role of RTI at the panchayat level:

In a progression of choices since 1973 the Supreme Court of India has proclaimed that the subjects' entitlement to get to data held by open specialists is a segment of the fundamental rights. Obviously, it is basic that the general population has the privilege to get to data from panchayats since they are nearby self-overseeing bodies, which are nearest to the general population. Keeping in mind the end goal to encourage access to data from neighborhood self-representing bodies, in 1997 the Government of India issued a round expressing that each State ought to consider passing requests executing three unique parts of straightforwardness. To begin with, PRIs, particularly Gram Panchayats, ought to show all crucial data relating to advancement ventures (particularly receipt of assets and how they are being spent) in panchayat workplaces or on a conspicuous board outside the neighborhood school. Second, all significant records ought to be interested in review. Third, individuals from people in general ought to have the capacity to acquire photocopies of reports relating to improvement ventures (counting all bills, summon moves, vouchers, appraisals, and estimation books), and in addition matters of overall population enthusiasm by paying an ostensible charge. Punjab has the accompanying laws set up which encourage access to data held by panchayat bodies:

■ The Punjab Panchayati Raj Act, 1994

■ The Right to Information Act, 2005


The Punjab government is likewise required to reveal comparative classifications of data about its areas of expertise and other open specialists under its control. The proactive exposure of archives of a few offices and open specialists of the Punjab Government identifying with the previously mentioned are distributed ( The Punjab Information Commission and the Central Information Commission have both been set up. How panchayats actualize rural growth plans? The National Institute of Rural Development (NIRD) has discharged a distribution, "Execution of Rural Development Programs-Role of PRIs with regards to the right to Information Act", which is intended to give data to individuals about the most effective method to get to data from panchayats with respect to all major rural improvement plans (Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India.) It executes a number of rural improvement and poverty mitigation programs, which bolster framework in towns, offer work and give financed sustenance grains, protect furthermore, drinking water to villagers. It is basically the obligation of Panchayati Raj Establishments to actualize these plans. Be that as it may, the execution part of Gram Sabhas and panchayats at village, block and district levels in connection to these projects is regularly not known by the villagers, and as a rule is not by any means known by the chose panchayat individuals themselves.


1) In Punjab, the Panchayati Raj Act, 1994 forces a couple of proactive exposure commitments on Gram Panchayats- requires the offering of panchayat data to people in general in the general gatherings of the Gram Sabha.

■ The procedures of the past meeting (read out by the Sarpanch);

■ Report of move made by the Panchayat on past dialogs of the Sabha;

■ Important choices of the Panchayat after the last normal general meeting (read out by the Sarpanch);

■ Questions and resolutions by individuals;

■ Statement of wage and consumption (read out thing by thing);


All the more particularly, the PR Act gives that Gram Panchayats must reveal data related to legal proceedings, which occur at the Gram Panchayat level. In this unique situation, any gathering to a legal continuing can apply to the Sarpanch to examine the record on installment of a charge of Rs 1 on each event. Besides, they can likewise apply to the Sarpanch to get duplicates of important records or any passage in the enroll on installment of a charge of 25 paisa for the initial two hundred words and fifteen paisa for each consequent hundred words (Rule 8-A, Punjab Gram Panchayat Rules, 1965.) Under the PR Act, the records and documents can be reviewed, and the open can get duplicates of them upon demand:


The Right to Information and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) 2005:

The NREGA is one of the nation's most aggressive hostile to neediness programs ever, which gives a legitimate assurance of 100 day's worth of effort in a money related year to India's provincial families whose grown-up individuals will do untalented physical work. In Punjab this program is operational in Hoshiarpur region. The Punjab Government started the way toward offering occupations to the provincial unemployed youth under this plan in 1,317 towns in Hoshiarpur region on 2 February 2006 (


According to the PR Act, Panchayat Samitis must hold their normal gatherings in any event once in two months and Zila Parishads must hold their standard gatherings at any rate once in three months. Exceptional gatherings of both these levels must be called by the Chairmen, whenever a composed demand of at the very least 33% of the aggregate number of individuals, is submitted determining the reason for the meeting (Section 116, The Punjab Panchayati Raj Act,). Tragically however, under the PR Act 1994 the Zila Parishad is not in charge of sharing much data with the overall population, despite the fact that it has an obligation to distribute factual furthermore, other data identifying with the exercises of Panchayat Samiti and Zila Parishad. For example, Zila Parishad, Ludhiana. However residents require not give up about this deficiency of the PR Act. Under the RTI Act the Zila Parishads are open experts. Conventionally a wide range of records kept up in a Zila Parishad ought to be open under the RTI Act as all records kept up by Panchayat bodies fall outside the domain of the exclusions said in the RTI Act.


Single Window Delivery Services at Suwidha Centre, Nawanshahr District, Punjab:

SUWIDHA (Single User-friendly Window Disposal and Help-line for Applicants) Centers have been inherent every one of the areas of the state to give region organization administrations to the residents. Keeping in mind the end goal to streamline the conveyance of government organizations through a solitary window for residents and with the extra goal of changing the mentality of mystery that government officers are habituated to, the area organization of Nawanshahr has set up a best in class Suwidha Center situated at the area central command. One of the windows gives data identified with the RTI Act 2005, specifically the rundown of APIOs, PIOs and Appellate Authorities in the area alongside their phone numbers and other contact subtle elements. The significant administrations incorporate validation of oath on the spot, conveyance of birth and passing testaments, visa applications, enlistment of relational unions, counter marks of archives, arms licenses, restoration of licenses, driving licenses, enrollment of vehicles, gathering of power what's more, phone bills, conveyance of duplicate of income records and court arranges in a period bound way. On a normal about 1000 individuals visit the Suwidha Center on a working day (Krishan Kumar, Deputy Commissioner, Nawanshahr district).


Elections to Panchayat Bodies

Elections give a fundamental majority rule space to individuals to choose a man of their decision who will then speak to them and endeavor to satisfy their necessities and interests. Elections at the panchayat level are a key purpose of interest in local administration processes. Elections to panchayat bodies occur at regular five years. The Punjab State Election Commission is in charge of the superintendence, heading and control of the arrangement of constituent rolls and the lead of all races to panchayats at all three levels. Also, under the RTI Act, 2005 the State Election Commission is an 'open expert’ as it has been built up by the Constitution of India according to Article 243 (Article 243K of the Constitution of India; Section 2(h), The Right to Information Act, 2005).


Notwithstanding the arrangements in the PR Act with respect to access to data identified with panchayat races, natives can likewise get to data on demand from the Department of Elections, Government of Punjab under the recently instituted RTI Act, 2005. In the event that data identified with panchayat races is not generally effectively accessible subjects can presently apply for a similar utilizing the RTI Act. Thus this office has relegated PIOs, APIOs and departmental redrafting masters at the state and furthermore at the area level.


The general population of Punjab found the opportunity to choose the individuals to Panchayat Samiti and Zila Parishad just three time before the passing of Punjab Panchayati Raj Act 1994 in 1963, 1966 and 1976. The term of Panchayat Samiti and Zila Parishad of 1966 was to terminate in 1969 yet the Punjab govt. extended its term in the entire of state from three to five years. Therefore of this choice the current Zila parishads kept on working till 1971. Giani Zail Singh was congress government head as opposed to directing the election and demobilized it on January 1973. For a time of 1973 to 1976 Deputy Commissioners of the considerable number of areas played out the elements of Zila Parishads. Congress govt. decided to direct the decisions to these bodies which were hung on 24 Dec.1976. Be that as it may, the Akali Govt. that followed suspended the working of these foundations on 12 Oct.1978 for an inconclusive period (Khanna R.L., Panchayat Raj in Punjab and Haryana, 1971).


It is amazing that all the progressive governments from 1976 to 1994 had been deferring elections of these bodies by virtue of unverifiable political atmosphere in the state because of militancy. The grass root level majority rule government remained paralyzed for over 18 years. Amid this period neither central nor state specialists attempted to re-build up these organizations here. New principles were confined under the arrangements of this new Act and the main races to 138 Panchayat Samitis and 14 Zila Parishads were held in 1994, and 2,441 Samiti individuals and 274 Zila Parishad individuals were chosen. The village Panchayat elections were held in June 1998. As of late, election to Panchayat Samitis and Zila Parishads (which were expected in 1999) were held in June 2002, for which 2,485 individuals from Samitis and 281 individuals from Zila Parishads were chosen by the individuals from the Gram Sabhas for 140 Samitis and 17 Zila Parishads separately.


Congress pioneer Beant Singh sworn as CM of Punjab in 1992 after a long stretch of President Rule was there. He attempted to money upon its crisply obtained picture of 'eradicator of militancy 'and did not defer the reclamation of majority rules system at the nearby level. Beant Singh govt. passed the Punjab panchayati Raj Act in 1994 hanging in the balance of 73rd Amendment Act.and a race commission was constituted to lead the decision of these bodies. The Panchayat Samiti and Zila Parishads decisions were held in Sep.1994 after a long hole of 18 years. The congress political gathering won clearing greater part in these elections. The residency of these chose bodies were to be finished in 1999; however govt. did not directed the decision to these bodies upto 2003. After 2003 elections to these bodies were led on the 12th May 2008 in which Akali political gathering got total dominant part. The residencies of these bodies were lapsed in 2013, so govt. led decision to these bodies on May 19 2013.



The 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992 has given the command to build up a three-level structure (Gram Panchayat, Panchayat Samiti and Zila Parishad) of the Panchayati Raj Institutions, empowering them to accept the part of self-administering organizations at smaller scale levels of organization for decentralized arranging and administration. The accentuation was on constituting a Gram Sabha for every town for practicing forces and playing out the capacities gave in the eleventh Schedule. This fundamental status of the PRIs has moreover connected with women and Scheduled Castes in the point of confinement of chairpersons by offering reservation to appreciating the essential authority plan,  have been only exchanged to the PRIs for smaller scale arranging and execution, for financial advancement with social equity. 


Panchayat Samiti and Zila Parishads:

Decision of Panchayat samities were hung on 19th May 2013 for the 333 seats of 22 Zila parishads and 2732 seats of 146 panchayat samities. Elections were held for 329 seats of 22 Zila parishads and 2729 seats of 146 panchayat samities. 5786 hopefuls challenged for 2732 zones of peace samities and 760 challenged for 331 seats of 22 zila parishads. The state recorded 65% voter turnout highest surveying was seen in Mansa i.e. 72% and most reduced in Gurdaspur i.e. 52.81%. State saw occurrences of savagery in the area of Patiala, Mansa and Pathankot. Some episodes of illegal conflagration and gathering conflicts were likewise seen in the locale of Muktsar separated from occurrences of corner catching in the regions of Ferozepur, Faridkot, Fazilka and Gidderbaha. Be that as it may, general race were serene as was signs guaranteed by boss pastor of Punjab S. Parkash Singh Badal (The Amar Ujala, 2013). Party shrewd position of vital political gatherings in these races demonstrated numerous huge signs. The SAD-BJP consolidates won 299 seats out of 329 seats of zila Parishads and 2122 out of 2739 seats of Panchayat samities. (Report Issued by Punjab Rural Development And Panchayat Department. Mohali, (2008).


The land slide triumph of shiromani Akali Dal and Bharatiya Janata Party solidified its hold over the rustic masses. The congress political gathering endured a massive annihilation in these elections.The party packed away 454 seats in Panchayat samiti race and just 26 situates in Zila Parishads. The gathering has been out of force for the last six years.Overall SAD-BJP did well in Amritsar, Bathinda, Barnala, Ferozepur, Faridkot, Moga, Mukatsar and Tarn Taran though Congress make its nearness felt in Hoshiarpur and Jalandhar. The party was not able make its home all together and seven structure at the grass root level however made an expansive cooperation with Peoples gathering of Punjab and seat change with Bahujan Samaj Party. Then again the decision demonstrates that BSP, CPI and CPM have long miles to cover to achieve the hearts of provincial masses of Punjab.


For a long time (2012 and 2013) ceaselessly, the villagers of Kanakwal town close to the Guru Gobind Singh Refinery in Bathinda Talwandi Sabo body electorate boycotted the Panchayat surveys requesting a solid answer for the air contamination issue they were confronting a result of the refinery. Nonetheless, in the as of late closed Punjab races, the town recorded 88.9% votes in favor of the first run through as individuals turned out to exercise their establishment for "change". The current year's voter turnout broke every past record. Since majority share of the vote was against hostile to incumbency we as a whole turned out to vote," said an inhabitant of the town. it has been asserted that the vote was isolated amongst AAP and Congress with the previous having an upper edge.


The triumph of SAD in these decisions portrays that Akalis had polished small scale administration amid the most recent seven years. Prior they won Assembly race second time and now these decision to country neighborhood bodies second time. Very were constantly two gatherings at the town level and the Congress used to get the votes of one gathering however this time SAD could win the poor working class which prior was the congress vote bank? Another explanation behind congress poor execution was the lessening framework of congress at the provincial level. The gathering pioneers did not have sufficient number of laborers to activate the voters at the town level. Besides however Congress president S.Partap Singh Bajwa battled effectively yet different pioneers were not genuine and selected amicable restriction approach. They wanted to go underground and avoid dynamic legislative issues. So there is a requirement for the reflection and investigate the escape clauses to perform better for whenever.



The elections of provincial level nearby bodies proclaimed that constituent bipolarity exists in Punjab like a large portion of alternate states. The discretionary rivalry is for the most part between Congress which is the principal national political gathering and Akali Dal which is imperative territorial gathering of Punjab. Since the rearrangement of Punjab in 1966, the constituent legislative issues for the most part spin around these two political gatherings. However SAD challenged this decision having cooperation with BJP. What's more, Congress gathering made an informal union with People Party of Punjab. Dismal BJP administering consolidate drubbed the joint resistance. In Punjab a move has occurred in the plan of SAD. In these decision SAD has embraced a mainstream way to deal with win general society bolster in the double group state Since its initiation Akali Dal worked for Sikh and Panthic personality however over the time it has changed its religion-political shading to political-financial shading as in these race the political and monetary issues have turned out to be more significance to its governmental issues. Amid the interest for production of Punjabi Suba in 50"s, ascent of militancy in 80's and the request of making a free khalistan, religion has commanded the governmental issues of Punjab yet in this fight for vote SAD did not embrace common approach. The coalition amongst SAD and BJP helped the SAD to win the support of Hindu group moreover. It helped in upgrading the Hindu Sikh amicability in the State. Both SAD and BJP stressed in this decision on improvement, peace and collective concordance in the state. The monetary issue has picked up significance bringing on the public enthusiasm to take the auxiliary position. Last not the minimum whatever might be the procedure of SAD or Congress, history rehashes itself in Punjab governmental issues. History demonstrated that decision to Panchayati Raj organizations was constantly won by the ruling parties of the day.






3.       Khanna R.L., Panchayat Raj in Punjab and Haryana, Mohindra Capital Publishers, Chandigarh (1971)

4.       Ministry of Rural Development, Department of Rural Development, Government of India.

5.       Mishra S.N., Chaitli. Lokesh Kumar, New Panchayati Raj in Action, Mittal Publications (1996)

6.       Narang A.S., Indian Government and Politics, Gitanjali Publishing House, (1985)

7.       Punjab Government website: as on 30 May 2006.

8.       PRIA (2003), Gram Sabha and Panchayats, New Delhi.

9.       Reports in the working of Panchayats in Punjab, 1 (1925- 26)

10.     Report Issued by Punjab Rural Development And Panchayat Department. Mohali (2008)

11.     Sharma S., Grassroots Politics and Panchayati Raj, Deep and Deep Publications, New Delhi, (1973)

12.     The Punjab Panchayati Raj Act, 1994.

13.     The Right to Information Act, 2005.

14.     The Amar Ujala. The Daily Newspaper. Chandigarh, 1, 4 (20.5.2013)

15.     The Tribune. The Daily Newspaper. Chandigarh, 1, 4,5 (20.5.2013)

16., census Data, 2001.





Received on 04.04.2017

Modified on 08.06.2017

Accepted on 29.06.2017

© A&V Publications all right reserved

Research J. Humanities and Social Sciences. 8(2): April- June, 2017, 255-260.

DOI: 10.5958/2321-5828.2017.00037.7