Following these circumstances, Rajiv Gandhi the then Prime Minister of India, introduced the 64th Amendment bill on local government on the 15th May, 1989 in the Parliament, but it failed to get the required support. A second attempt was made in September 1990 to pass the bill in the Parliament. The bill however was not even taken up for consideration. In September 1991, a fresh bill on Panchayat Raj was introduced by the Congress government under P. V. Narasimha Rao, the then Prime Minister. It was passed in 1992 as the 73rd Amendment Act 1992 with minor modifications and came into force on 24th April 1993.
The Salient Features of the Act are:
The Act provided for the establishment of Grama Sabha in each village. It will be a body comprising of all the adult members registered as voters in the Panchayat area. Three shall be a three-tier system of Panchayat at village, intermediate and district levels. Smaller states with population below 20 Lacks will have option not to have intermediate level panchayat.
Seats in panchayats at all three level shall be filled by direct election. In addition, the chairperson of the village panchayat can be made member of the panchayat at the intermediate level. MP, MLA, MLC, could also be member of panchayat at the intermediate and the district level.
In all the Panchayats, seats should be reserved for SCs and STs in proportion to their population and 1/3 of the total number of seats will be reserved for women. Offices of the chairperson of the Panchayat at all levels shall be reserved in favour of SCs and STs in proportion in the state. One-third of the offices of chairperson of Panchayats at all levels shall also be reserved for women.
Legislature of the state shall be at liberty to provide reservation of seats and office of chairperson in Panchayat in favour of Backward Class citizens. Panchayats shall have a uniform five year term and elections to constitute new bodies shall be completed before the expiry of term.
In the event of dissolution, election will be compulsorily held within six months. The reconstituted Panchayat will serve for remaining period of five year term. It will not be possible to dissolve the existing panchayats by amendment of any Act before the expiry of its duration.
A person who is disqualified under any law, election to the legislature of the state or under any of the state will not be entitled to become a member of a panchayat. Independent election commission will be established in the state to superintendence, direction, and control of the electoral process and preparation of electoral rolls. Specific responsibilities will be entrusted to the panchayats to prepare plans for economic development and social justice in respect of matters listed in XI Schedule. For the implementation of development schemes, main responsibility will be entrusted to the panchayats.
The Panchayats will receive adequate funds for carrying out their plans. Grants from state government will constitute an important source of funding but state government is also expected to assign the revenue of certain taxes to the panchayats. In some cases, panchayat will also be permitted to collect and retain revenue it raises.
In each state, finance commission will be established within one year and after every five years to determine principles on the basis of which adequate financial resource would be entrusted for panchayats.
Panchayats existing on the 24th April 1993 will be allowed to complete their full term except when they are dissolved by the house by resolution.
Article 243 G of the XI Schedule includes the following Activities:
* Agriculture, including agricultural extension
* Land improvement, implementation of land reforms, land consolidation and soil Conservation
* Minor irrigation, water management and watershed development
* Animal husbandry and poultry
* Social forestry and form forestry
* Small- scale industries, including food processing industries
* Khadi, village and cottage industries
* Rural housing
* Drinking water
* Fuel and fodder
* Roads, culverts, bridges, waterways and other means of communication
* Rural electrification including distribution of electricity
* Non conventional energy sources
* Poverty elevation programme
* Education, including primary and secondary schools
* Technical training and vocational education
* Adult and non-formal education
* Cultural activities
* Market and fairs
* Health and family sanitation including hospital, primary health centers and
* Family welfare
Women and child development
Social welfare, including welfare of the handicapped and mentally retarded. Welfare of the weaker sections and particular, of the Scheduled Cast and Scheduled Tribes
Public distribution system
The 73rd Amendment Act is an attempt to restructure the Panchayat Raj to reach the grassroot level. The bill for the first time gave constitutional status to Panchayat Raj institutions and it became mandatory on all state governments to implement it. This Amendment brought about uniformity in structure, composition, powers and functions of panchayats. It gave impetus to Panchayat Raj to promote social and economic development and improvement in living condition of rural India. The main criticism levelled against the Act is that these institutions are viewed as implementing agencies for developmental activities and that those are not given the status of decentralized political institutions. Criticism apart, the Act fulfilled the dream of constitutional status to Panchayat Raj Institutions and the state governments brought new legislations to implement it .