ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Gram Sabha as a Body Corporate

The Emerging Reality

Since the passing of the Constitution (73rd Amendment) Act, 1992, the institution of the gram sabha has assumed signifi cance as a basic unit of self-governance but there area lot of misconceptions about its nature, and it is merely understood as a “meeting of village people.” However, in the Scheduled Areas of Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra, the gram sabhas are demonstrating how they could function as “bodies corporate,” a fact recognised only by a few of the state panchayat acts. This has got a great transformative potential not just in ushering participatory democracy but also in livelihood generation, conservation and management of natural resources.

The authors would like to thank Narendra Singh Bais for drawing their attention to the issues discussed in this article and Keshav Gurnule of Srishti for supplying the information on Kurkheda taluka.

Although the term “gram sabha” was known to Indians for hundreds of years, it received due recognition only after the ratification of the 73rd Amendment to the Constitution. Prior to that, the Bombay Village Panchayats Act, 1958, which was one of the pioneering acts in this regard, had defined gram sabha as “a body consisting of persons registered in the electoral rolls relating to village comprised within the area of panchayat.”1 The 73rd Amendment Act in 1992 retained this definition when it stated that the “gram sabha means a body consisting of persons registered in the electoral rolls relating to a village comprised within the area of Panchayat at the village level.” As “panchayats” is a state subject, the respective state governments were asked to amend their state laws in the light of the 73rd Amendment. Most of the state governments have retained the same definition.

The Concept of Gram Sabha

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Updated On : 18th Sep, 2023
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