Gram Sabha and Gram Panchayat
Introduction: The Constitution (Seventy-Third Amendment) Act, 1992 was enacted to reform the Panchayat System in India. The Legislature of Indian States were given powers to decide the powers and composition of Gram Sabha and Gram Panchayats. Hence, the powers, functions and composition of Gram Panchayats are determined by the State Governments in accordance with the local needs.
Gram Sabha has been envisaged as the foundation of the Panchayati Raj system. A Gram Sabha consists of members that include every adult of the village. It is generally formed in villages with population at least exceeding 1500 people.
However, in some states, a Gram Sabha may be formed even if the population is less than 1500. If the population of several villages are less than the prescribed minimum, then the villages are grouped together to form a Gram Sabha.
The members of the members of the Gram Panchayat are elected for five years.
Functions: The Gram Sabha performs such functions as the States prescribes from time to time.
- They play a vital role by electing the right candidates as members (Panch) of Gram Panchayats,
- The keep a check on the activities of Gram Panchayat and influence their decisions for the welfare of the village.
- They conduct general meetings. Beyond the prescribed minimum number of meetings, they can conduct such meeting as per the needs.
Gram Panchayat is the organization of elected panchas by the members of Gram Sabha of the village. It is a self-government organization. The number of members in a Gram Panchayat depends upon the population of the village.
Generally, the number of elected panchas in a Gram Panchayat varies between seven and seventeen members. However, it may vary from state to state. There is provision for reservation of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Women candidates. The head of the Panchayat is known as “Sarpanch”.
Functions: The functions of Gram Panchayat includes:
- implementation of welfare plans,
- social justice and development,
- upliftment of women,
- economic development,
- development of infrastructure such as roads, waterways, etc.
- ensuring social justice,
- making arrangement for drinking water,
- improvement in agricultural methods,
- development of improved irrigation methods,
- development of small-scale, cottage and food-processing units,
- eradication of poverty,
- housing for rural people,
- making arrangement for elementary and secondary education facilities for rural children,
- fight illiteracy and encourage adults to learn to read and write,
- improvement in hygiene and sanitation, etc.
Difference: The basic difference between Gram Sabha and Gram Panchayat is that Gram Sabha consists of every adult member of village (generally, the population of village should be more than 1500), while Gram Panchayat is the executive five members elected by members of Gram Sabha to work for the village development.