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Governance

Appointment of Government Servants as Gram Panchayat Administrator

  • 23 Jul 2020
  • 5 min read

Why in News

Recently, the Bombay High Court passed an interim order directing that a government servant of the local authority be appointed as an administrator of gram panchayats in Maharashtra.

  • It is for the 15,000 panchayats where the terms of these officers have ended or would be ending.
  • These administrators include sarpanch, secretary of the panchayats and gram sevaks.

Key Points

  • Petition Against Recent Decisions: The order came after petitions were filed against a recent Government Resolutions (GR) issued by the State Rural Development Department and Maharashtra Village Panchayat (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020.
    • Through these, the Maharashtra government ordered appointment of administrators to all gram panchayats by zilla parishad chief executive officers (CEO) in consultation with their respective district ministers.
    • The resolution and ordinance were challenged on various grounds related to the appointment of private individuals as administrators of gram panchayats.
    • It also challenged the section 151 of the Maharashtra Village Panchayats Act by allowing appointment of administrators in case the State Election Commission (SEC) could not hold elections due to a natural calamity, pandemic, financial emergency or administrative emergency.
  • High Court's Argument:
    • Questioned Private Appointments: The Court ordered that the administrator to be appointed, should be a government servant or an officer from the local authority.
      • If not available and the appointment of a private individual is to be made, then each such order shall record the reasons because of which such officer was not available.
      • The criteria that administrators have to be “a resident of the village and on the voters’ list'' is directory, not mandatory in nature.
    • Local Authority Officers: The court emphasised that local authority offices should be the first choice for appointment as an administrator.
    • Impact on Local Governance: The Court admitted that working of the gram panchayat will be affected if the administrator is not appointed, however it also emphasised the need to address the concerns regarding the appointment of the private individual.
      • According to the court private individuals appointment is not warranted in law and such mass appointments will have a lasting adverse impact on the local governance in terms of efficiency, impartiality and effectiveness of the work.
  • State Government’s Argument:
    • Urgent Need: It stated that there is an urgent need for administrators to run the panchayats as pandemic has halted the election process.
    • Overburdened Officers: There are a large number of gram panchayats in the State and the government servants are already overburdened. So, it is difficult to appoint them as administrators.

Gram Panchayat

  • These are the part of the Panchayati Raj System which has been granted constitutional status by the 73rd Amendment act.
  • This scheme of the PRI system increases cooperation among people, democratic participation and decentralization.
  • The 2.5 lakh Gram Panchayats (GPs) in the country have been entrusted to provide basic services in the villages and plan for local economic development and good governance.
  • The Gram Sabha (GS) discusses the development work plans of the GP called Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP) and the elected representatives execute the plans.

Gram Sabha

  • Gram Sabha is a body consisting of all persons whose names are included in the electoral rolls for the Panchayat at the village level.
  • The term is defined in the Constitution of India under Article 243(b).
  • All eligible voters of the village can participate in the Gram Sabha.
  • The decisions taken by the Gram Sabha cannot be annulled by any other body except itself.

Source: TH

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