Villages & Panchayats

Panchayats : 236

Villages : 357

The founder of Panchayati Raj in J&K was Maharaja Hari Singh In1935. By an amendment in 1941, the list of functions of the 1935 Regulation were widened by an Act of 1951, the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI) was adopted to be re-established. The Jammu and Kashmir Government thereafter enacted the Village Panchayati Act in 1958 replacing the 1951 Act. Various committees were attempted on Panchayati Raj in J&K. Finally in April 1988 it was introduced in assembly of J&K and came into existence in March 1989 (known as J&K Panchayati Raj Act-1989) [9-11].

The preamble of the J&K Panchayati Raj Act-1989 states in chapter 2nd, every Halqa Panchayat shall consists of such number of Panchs not less than seven and not more than eleven including the Sarpanch, as the prescribed authority may, from time to time, fix in this behalf:

“Provided that if the prescribed authority is of the opinion that women are not adequately represented in the Halqa Panchayat, it may nominated such number of women to be members thereof, as it may deem fit.”

“Provided further that the number of women members to be nominated as such shall not exceed 33% of the total number of elected Panchs”.

“Provided also that while making nomination the composition of the Halqa Panchayat with reference to representation of Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and other weaker sections shall be given due consideration”.

The first election under the Act of 1889 was held in 2001 after a gap of 12 years, although they could not be successful in all parts of the state due to the prevailing situation. The Panchayat bodies could not, therefore, become functional in the State in the last two decades. In the intervening years, panchayat institutions in other parts of the country have evolved with the backing of the 73rd Amendment act 1993 to the Constitution of India. The Amendment envisions a larger and vibrant role for Panchayati Raj has been recognized with wider power and financial resources not merely as institutions of political participation but institutions of social and economic development. The strengthening of the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs), with properly defined role in local planning, decision-making and supervision, is being advocated as an essential part of the governance reforms agenda by both the government as well as civil society groups. Recently in 2011 panchayat election were held in Jammu and Kashmir after 23 years at all the three levels viz; village, block and district level. As per the Cabinet Decision No.40/3/2011 dated 09-02-2011 and Cabinet Decision No. 170/21/2011 dated 21.09.2011 vide Government Order No: 1126-GAD of 2011 dated 22-09-2011, the Government of Jammu and Kashmir ordered the devolution of functions and activities to these Institutions as specified in Annexures I to XIV has specified the devolution of functions and activities to these institutions in respect of 14 departments. The Panchayati election was held in 16 rounds from April to June 2011. The Panchayat elections were quite vibrant compared to the last Panchayat elections which were held in 2001, these were much more meaningful and participatory. The number of Sarpanchs and Panchs in the state were 4,130 and 29,719 respectively, out of which 9424 were women, with State level average voter turnout of about 77.71 percent . All Sarpanchs and Panchs were duly elected in accordance with the provision of Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Raj act, 1989. The young people and women were quite involved in the electoral process with many of them joining the election fray as the candidates for Panch and Sarpanch constituencies. This election shows the positive impact on women and youth in political participation at grass root level. The Panchayats are expected to play an important role in ruler development of Jammu and Kashmir, particularly after 2011. It was the great achievement of National Conference government to make the Panchayati Raj elections possible as the conditions were not favorable in Jammu and Kashmir.