Competitive Exams: 73rd Amendment & 74th Amendment

The 73rd Amendment to the Constitution is almost the culminating point of the evolutionary process in regard to decentralisation of democratic power. It confers constitutional status to the Panchayats at District and sub-District levels and envisages setting tip of Panchayats at village, intermediate and District levels in every State. One major element is giving representation to the MPs and MLAs in the Block and District Panchayats.

The Amendment has provisions which are of great significance in so far as the relate to socio-economic planning. These concern preparation of development plans, implementation of development schemes, power to levy and collect taxes, constitution of State Finance Commissions to review financial position of Panchayats, delineation of subjects which call be assigned to the Panchayats and invalidating any law in force which is inconsistent with the Amendment. The State Governments are expected to amend their laws to make them conform to the Constitutional Amendment.

The 74th Amendment to the Constitution has provided the legal basis for local self government in Urban Areas for the first time, It provides the municipalities with powers and authority, as may be necessary, to carry out the responsibilities conferred upon them including those related to matters listed in the Twelfth Schedule. It empowers the State Finance Commission to review the financial position of the Municipalities and recommend the pattern of sharing of taxes, duties, tolls, etc. As also grants-in-aid from the Consolidated Fund of the state.

According to this Amendment a District Planning Committee is to be constituted in every state which will consolidate the plans prepared by the Panchayats and the Municipalities in the district so that a draft development plan may be prepared for the district as a whole.

Schedule 11 of the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act listed 29 subjects by way of elaboration of Article 243 G, which deals with the devolution of powers and responsibilities, which may be entrusted to the Panchayats. In the same manner 12th Schedule of the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act listed 18 subjects for devolution of powers and responsibilities, which may be entrusted to urban local bodies. The subjects included in the 11th and 12th Schedule indicate the broad area for devolution and further elaboration specifying functions and activities, which may be transferred to local bodies, was considered necessary.