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Explain the main features of the 73rd Amendment to the Indian Constitution, relating to Panchayati Raj institutions.

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This amendment implements the article 40 of the Directive Principles of State Policy which says that ‘State shall take steps to organize village panchayats and endow them with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as units of self-government’. The Act gives a Constitutional status to the Panchayati Raj institutions. The State Governments are under the Constitutional obligation to adopt the new Panchayati Raj System in accordance with the provisions of the Act.

Features Of The Panchayati Raj Institution: The Act provides for a three-tier system of the Panchayati Raj in the States, Panchayat means an institution of local self-Govemment for rural areas. Gram Sabha, The Act provides for a Gram Sabha as the foundation of the Panchayati Rai System. It is a body consisting of persons registered in the electoral rolls of the village comprised within the area of the Panchayat at the village level. It is a village Assembly consisting of all the registered voters in the area of a Panchayat. It shall exercise such powers and perform such functions at the village level as determined by the State Legislature.

Duration of Panchayats: The Act provided for a five-year term of office to the Panchayat at every level. The Act provided for the reservation of seats for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in every Panchayat. The Act provides for the reservation of not less than one-third of the total number of seats for women.

The State Legislature endows the Panchayats with such powers and authority with respect to preparation of plans for economic develop¬ment and social justice The superintendence, direction and control of the preparation of electoral rolls and the conduct of all elections to the Panchayats shall be vested in the State Election Commission.

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