Conflict Management HRM624
PANCHAYAT, LOCAL GOVERNMENT SYSTEM, AND ADR
Panchayats and Jirgas are kinds of local government system through which social justice and local
development issues are regulated and managed. These systems have functioned for centuries in the sub-
continent. These are a kind of today's ADR systems. Panchayats and Jirgas are now becoming part of local
government system which is operational in more than sixty countries in the third world. It is good to learn
the characteristics of Panchayats and Jirgas; and in this way, we can better understand ADR system within
our own culture and traditions.
Definitions of Panchayat
1. Panchayat - a village council.
2. `Panchayat' literally means assembly (yat) of five (panch) wise and respected elders chosen and accepted by
the village (local) community.
3. The other word for panchayat is called Jirga
From an informal, community-based body that was meant to settle small claims, the `jirga', or council of
tribal elders, has in Pakistan been allowed to emerge as a powerful force protecting the interests of the
powerful. This all-male body is often called Panchayat or Jirga.
Definition of Jirga
1. A Pashto term for a decision making assembly of male elders; most criminal cases are handled by a tribal
Jirga rather than by state laws or police.
2. A Jirga (occasionally jirgah) (Urdu: ہﮔﺮﺟ ) is a tribal assembly of elders which takes decisions by
consensus, particularly among these Pashtuns but also in other ethnic groups near them; they are most
common among the Pashtuns in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
3. Loya Jirga - a grand council or grand assembly used to resolve political conflicts or other national
problems. (Example: Recent Pak Afghan Jirga)
The word Panchayat mostly used in South Punjab, Pakistan and in India.
The word Jirga is used in Afghanistan and Pushtun areas in NWFP.
In Pakistan, both words are used depending upon the area.
Functions of Panchayat and its types
Traditionally, Panchayats are used to settle disputes between individuals and between villages. Modern
Panchayats also address key social issues by manipulating and using unchallenged power of elders and
chieftains. Indian government has decentralised several administrative functions to the village level,
empowering elected Panchayats at three levels or tiers. However, in Pakistan panchayats are not working in
many rural areas/villages. Police stations or Thanas are now active components of state machinery to
provide justice to people.
The poor in our rural areas remain shy to get justice from the present Thana culture of police.
Types of Panchayats:
(1) Village panchyats (members of panchayats fromm same village);
(2) Inter-village panchayats (between villages, rare but discuss issue of serious nature like inter-village
(3) Biradari Panchayats (between Biradries).
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Popularity of Jirga System
Jirgas are used increasingly in Pakistan. Cost of justice and delay in dispensing justice by the courts are the
major causes of its popularity. Inefficient Police system where justice seekers are reluctant to come forward
is another reason why people prefer it. However, traditional social system and lack of modern education
also compel people to seek justice through panchayats and jirgas.
Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) of 1901
Due to efficiency and people's acceptability, sometimes tribal jirgas are recognized as lawfully established
judicial tribunals, although the law under which they are created, the (Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) of
1901), has been generally denounced by the superior judiciary of the country and also by some people.
Powers of Jirga under FCR
Theoretically, a Jirga's findings are in the form of an advice, but custom has elevated these findings to the
level of a court verdict which usually translates into law. (a kind of ADR). This law is applicable only to the
tribal areas. The council of elders has jurisdiction in both civil and criminal matters. No appeal is generally
allowed against Jirga verdicts although the commissioner can review any case.
A jirga has sweeping powers to impose penalties in criminal cases. It can award punishments in the shape of
fines, whipping, life imprisonment, demolition of a convict's house and the blockade by a hostile or
unfriendly tribe. Technically, under the FCR, a jirga cannot award capital punishment.
Jirga system can be compared with jury system in America
Jury can also decide with in boundaries of State Laws. But jirga has unlimited powers. In the context of
gender equality movement, Jirgas are usually projected as unlawful activities against women. The ruthless
decisions made by jirgas are the result of women's relational and honour-related importance.
New Panchayati Raj System
Panchayati Raj is a new system of governance in India and elsewhere, In which gram Panchayat are the
basic units of adminstration. 'Raj' literally means governance or government, Panchayati Raj, a decentralized
form of Government where each village is responsible for its own affairs.
In the history of Panchayati Raj in India, on April 24, 1993, the Constitutional (73rd Amendment) Act, 1992
institutionailzed Panchayati Raj institutions.
Panchayati Raj System
The system: Panchayati Raj Institutions the grass-roots units of self-government have been proclaimed
as the vehicles of socio-economic transformation in rural India. Effective and meaningful functioning of
these bodies would depend on active involvement, contribution and participation of its citizens both male
and female. The aim of every village being a republic and Panchayats having powers has been translated into
reality with the introduction of the three-tier Panchayati Raj system to enlist people's participation in rural
Funds to Panchayats
Panchayats receive funds from three sources
local body grants, as recommended by the Central Finance Commission
funds for implementation of centrally-sponsored schemes
funds released by the state governments
The council leader in panchayat is named Sarpanch, and each member is a Panch. The panchayat
acts as a conduit between the local government and the people. Decisions are taken by a majority vote
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Three Levels of Panchayat
Village : At the village level, it is called a Panchayat. It is a local body working for the good of the village. It
can have its members ranging from 7 to 31. However, in exceptions, it can have members above 31 but not
Block : The block-level institution is called the panchayat samiti.
District : The district-level institution is called the zilla parishad.
73rd and 74th Constitution Amendment Acts (1992) in India
1. Panchayats and Municipalities will be "institutions of self-government".
2. Basic Units of Democratic System - Gram Sabhas (villages) and Ward Committees (Municipalities)
comprising all the adult members registered as voters.
3. Three-tier system of panchayats at village, intermediate block/taluk/mandal and district levels. Smaller
states with population below 2 million will have only two tiers
4. Seats at all levels filled by direct election
1. Seats reserved for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs)
2. Chairpersons of the Panchayats at all levels also shall be reserved for SCs and STs in proportion to their
3. One-third of the total number of seats reserved for women. One-third of the seats reserved for SCs and
STs also reserved for women. One-third offices of chairpersons at all levels reserved for women.
4. Uniform five year term and elections to constitute new bodies that are to be completed before the expiry
of the term. In the event of dissolution, elections to be held compulsorily within six months.
The various Rural Development Works carried at the Villages, Gram Panchayats, Block and District levels
are planned, implemented, monitored and maintained by the Zilla Parishad. These works are monitored on
the State Level by the Panchayats & Rural Development Department of the Government of West Bengal
and on the National level by the Govt. of India. The Z.P. at the district level is responsible for the
development and welfare works carried through the central, state share and its own funding. Zilla Parishad
supervises the works of Panchayat Samities as well as Gram Panchayats within its Jurisdiction.
There are 18 Panchayat Samities in the district. Each Panchayat Samiti is functioning with the Community
Development at the Block level created by the government in the Panchayats & Rural Development Deptt.
Each Panchayat Samiti consists of official and elected members. The official members are the Block Dev.
Officer and the Officers of various State Govt. Dept. ordinarily stationed at the Block level. The official
bearers include the Panchayat Samiti members and the Pradhan of the Gram Panchayats. Savapati is the
head of the body and is elected directly by the Panchayat Samiti members. And BDO of the respective
block is the Executive Officer of the Panchayat Samity.
The main functions of the Panchayat Samitis are planning, execution and supervision of all developmental
programmes in the Block . It also supervises the works of Gram Panchayats within its Jurisdiction.
Gram Panchayat is the primary unit of Panchayati Raj Institutions. The district has 210 Gram Panchayats.
Each Gram Panchayat comprising some villages and is divided into mouzas. The election of Pradhan, Upa-
Pradhan & members are conducted according to the provisions of the West Bengal Panchayat Election
Rules. Pradhan as the head of the GP is elected by the G.P. members. There are 210 Gram Panchayats in
this district under 18 Panchayat Samitis.
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Gram Sabha (assembly)
The Gram Sabha is the most powerful foundation of decentralized governance by ensuring elected
representatives. They are directly and regularly accountable to the people. However, the Gram Sabhas are
yet to become operational entities and to do justice to their potential for making the Panchayat system truly
self-governed and a bottom-up structure.
Some of the key features in relation to Gram Sabhas are as follows:
The quorum for a Gram Sabha meeting remains one tenth & it is essential to have one-third of the quorum
as women members. The Gram Sabha will work as a supervisory body, and audit and regulate the
functioning of Gram Panchayats.
Recommendations of the Gram Sabha will be binding on the Gram Panchayat.
The Gram Sabha can approve as well as audit expenditure up to a limit (3 lacs).
The Panchayat Karmi (Panchayat Secretary appointed by the Panchayats but drawing salary from the state
government) can be removed from his/her post only if the Gram Sabha approves it.
All the villages within a Gram Panchayat can have separate Gram Sabhas.
The Gram Sabha will have the right to recall the Pradhan after two and a half years of commencement of
The key roles entrusted to the Gram Sabha are microplanning, social audit of Panchayat functioning,
ratification of Panchayat accounts, balance sheets, identification and approval of beneficiaries, and
supervisory and regulatory functions.
The following indicators were chosen for assessing the prevailing situation in the field:
Participation and level of awareness of the Gram Sabha.
Issues of discussion and the process of decision-making.
Pattern of leadership.
Capacity of Gram Sabhas.
Transparency and accountability of the three tiers (GP, PS & ZP) to the Gram Sabha.
Modern Functions of Panchayat
These are the modern functions of Panchayat.
1. General Functions
2. Agriculture, Including Agricultural Extension
3. Animal Husbandry Dairying and Poultry
5. Social and Farm Forestry, Minor Forest Produce Fuel and Fodder
6. Khadi, Village and Cottage Industries
7. Rural Housing
8. Drinking Water
9. Roads, Buildings, Culverts, Bridges, Ferries, Waterways And Other Means Of Communication
10. Rural Electrification
11. Non-Conventional Energy Source
12. Poverty Alleviation Programmes
13. Education Including Primary Schools
14. Adult And Non Formal Education
Conflict Management HRM624
Functions of Panchayat
Following are the usual functions of Panchayat.
1. Cultural Activities
2. Markets And Fairs
3. Rural Sanitation
4. Public Health And Family Welfare
5. Women And Child Development
6. Social Welfare, Including Welfare Of The Handicapped And Mentally Retarded
7. Welfare of the Weaker Sections and in particular the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes
8. Maintenance Of Community Assets
9. Construction And Maintenance Of Cattle Sheds, Ponds And Cart Stands
10. Construction And Maintenance Of Slaughter Houses
11. Maintenance Of Public Parks, Playgrounds Etc
12. Regulation Of Manure Pits In Public Places
13. Such Other Functions As May Be Entrusted
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