Special Correspondent

Says non-party elections conducive to stability of panchayat framework

NEW DELHI: The Task Force on Panchayati Raj Jurisprudence recommended that panchayat elections at all the three tiers be not held on party basis. Though party politics had become institutionalised, non-party elections would be conducive to the stability and development of the panchayat framework, it said.

Set up in September last, the Task Force, headed by the former Karnakata Governor, V.S. Rama Devi, presented its report to Union Panchayati Raj Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar here on Monday. Non-political elections would also avoid the rift between the State Governments and the panchayat administration, especially if different parties were in power, the report said.

The report recommended regularising elections every five years and an uniform procedure throughout the country. The powers of the State Election Commissions were sacrosanct, and the State Governments should not tinker with them, it said.

Since both suspension and removal led to the temporary or permanent displacement of an elected functionary, more stringent criteria were needed, and they should be strictly followed. On a trial basis, panchayats could be given the power to take both these steps by a resolution. The majority required and the other procedural stipulations could be different from that of a no-confidence motion to avoid confusion.

If required, it could be provided in the statute that the Collector or a similar official could suspend/remove a functionary, but only after a resolution was passed by the panchayat. This would ensure that the process remained participatory without excessive intervention by executive authorities, the report said.

The notice for the motion could ideally be given to the chief functionary or his deputy. The quorum for such a meeting could be "one-third of the total elected members."

There should be a provision where the Collector or any other official should be intimated about the meeting.