Punish officials for proxy attendance in panchayats: Panel

July 28th, 2010 - 11:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, July 28 (IANS) Taking serious note of instances of panchayats being run by spouses or close relatives of elected women representatives (EWRs), a parliamentary panel has recommended departmental action against government officials allowing proxy attendance in meetings of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs).
The Standing Committee on Rural Development, in its report tabled in the Lok Sabha Wednesday on The Constitution (One Hundred and Tenth Amendment) Bill, 2009′ relating to Panchayati Raj ministry, said that it had come across instances during its examination of some panchayats being run by spouses or close relatives of EWRs.

Noting that the ministry issued communications to states and union territories in January and February this year to deter such unconstitutional practices, the committee said that if such proxy attendance takes place in the meetings of the PRIs “the concerned government officers or secretaries who allow relatives to attend instead of the office bearers should be proceeded against by the department”.

The report said that the bill seeks to amend Article 243 D so that the reservation for women in panchayats in the total number of seats, offices of chairpersons and in the seats reserved for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the three tiers of Panchayati Raj was raised from “not less than one-third” to “not less than one-half.”

Recommending consideration of the bill with certain modifications, the committee said that almost all the experts, representatives of state governments and members from the non-government organizations had unanimously supported the bill.

The bill, introduced in Lok Sabha in November 2009, was referred to the standing committee in December.

The report said that modalities regarding rotation of seats had been left to the states due to which there will be no uniformity. It said that “action should be taken through this constitutional amendment to achieve a measure of uniformity in the modalities of rotation of seats by ensuring rotation after at least two cycles.”

It said that the proposed increase in reservation will need augmented efforts at capacity building for four lakh more EWRs.

Pointing to lack of amenities and inadequate remuneration to EWRs, it said there was wide disparity among states in grant of allowances.

“The Committee is of view that panchayats may be advised to provide honorarium and sitting fee for elected representatives from the united basic and performance grant recommended by the Thirteenth Finance Commission.”

The 31-member committee is headed by Bharatiya Janata Party MP Sumitra Mahajan.

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