All About Tamil Nadu Panchayat Act 1994

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This article is written by Arya Senapati, and the article attempts to analyze the principal provisions of the Act comprehensively while examining its implementation, challenges to implementation, and recommendations for future progress. 

One of the key concepts governing democracy is the decentralisation of governance and the distribution of power to establish efficient functioning and administration of law and order. Through this idea, the local self-governance system developed in India and attempted to foster community participation in the policy implementation and decision-making process. Following the norm, the state of Tamil Nadu legislated the Tamil Nadu Panchayat Act, 1994 (hereinafter referred to as “the Act”), which became a milestone in implementing the concepts of local self-governance in the state. The Act was enacted with the simple motive of empowering the grassroot levels of communities and local people to sustain themselves through participative democracy to ensure effective governance. This also helped to shape the state’s administrative landscape. The preamble of the Act provides excellent insight into the purpose of the Act and its core themes. The preamble talks about the importance of democratic values and highlights the role of citizen’s participation in democratic processes. It talks about how the formation of local self-governance bodies can help in the decentralisation of power and also in community development. It highlights the necessity of the involvement of marginalised communities in the decision-making process for creating an inclusive governance body. 

While analysing the development or evolution of the panchayati system in Tamil Nadu, one can see the dynamism of the system and the historical shifts that it has gone through in the form of legislative amendments. It has undergone many progressive changes and has kept up with the pace of societal transformations to meet the demands of modern democracy and foster healthy local self-governance. The origin of the panchayat system in Tamil Nadu can be traced back to the colonial period. Still, the contemporary system that is followed currently is essentially a reflection of post-independence growth and progress. 

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Pre-independence era

In the pre-independence era, local governance of villages and rural areas was primarily the responsibility of primitive village councils. The councils had the leadership of local administrators and influential people of the village. These structures essentially had an informal nature but reflected the ideology of self-governance through customary community practices. These bodies primarily focussed on resolving all forms of conflict and addressing local problems. Even though they were largely successful, the lack of structure, binding force, and formal recognition created certain issues related to power imbalances.

Post-independence era

As India attained independence, the leaders demanded a shift of focus towards decentralization of power and promotion of local self-governance in India. These ideologies became an important topic of national discourse and discussion. The Gandhian principles laid out by the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, led to the constitution of self-governing institutions. The Gandhian philosophy called for decentralization of power, welfarism values, self-reliance, public solid resolve, self-governance and equality for all. To further the national policies, Gandhian philosophies, and spirit of democracy, the state of Tamil Nadu took multiple initiatives to establish a legally recognised formal panchayati raj system. It also started efforts and initiatives towards formally recognising these administrative bodies. One significant step towards recognising the spirit of local self-government was made through the Madras Village Panchayats Act, 1950

Developments in Tamil Nadu Panchayat Act

As decades passed, significant changes and progress were seen in the field of the panchayat system through legal reforms. These reforms primarily focused on improving the panchayat system by filling up the loopholes and addressing issues of power and function. To that extent, the Tamil Nadu Panchayats Act, 1958, became a significant step in introducing structural reforms in the process of creation of Panchayats in villages, municipality, and district levels for a tier-based governance system. This Act symbolised the transition from informal village councils to properly defined, legally recognised and formally functioning panchayats and local self-governing bodies. 

As time progressed, in 1992, the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act became a significant point in the history of self-administration in India. The Act had a vital impact on the structure and relevance of the panchayat system in Tamil Nadu. This particular Constitutional Amendment Act created the basis for the first formal three-tier Panchayat system and highlighted the importance of establishing a system of local autonomy and community-based participatory democracy. Furthering the constitutional ethos and values laid out in the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act, the government of Tamil Nadu enacted the Tamil Nadu Panchayat Act, 1994, which helped the government fulfill its obligation towards the national ideals of decentralization of governance. 

In recent years, the state government of Tamil Nadu has undergone specific positive changes to make the panchayat system stronger and more efficient. The changes have primarily been in the form of government efforts towards reviewing the implementation of the Act, taking capacity-building measures to understand the system’s loopholes to address the challenges and pave further the way towards creating efficient functioning of local governance institutions. 

Despite these changes and progress, certain obstacles still exist towards the full realization of local self-governance. These challenges have been mainly in the form of administrative capacity, resource allocation, political dynamics, etc. The governance landscape is constantly evolving and presents multiple paths for incorporating modern technology and digitalisation into the forums of power. In the centre, the government has taken significant initiatives towards establishing e-governance and digital democracy, but the same must also trickle down to the grassroot level. 

The Tamil Nadu Panchayat Act, 1994, was enacted with the primary goal of furthering the objective of decentralized democracy and making the systems and institutions of local self-governance solid and formal. The Act deals with multiple aspects, like the creation, constitution, powers, and functions of various tiers of panchayat bodies in the state of Tamil Nadu. It attempts to distribute the multiple types of powers and functions between the tiers of panchayats and empower the decision-making bodies of the people of the communities. The Act intends to address the implementation of initiatives related to development projects at the ground level. It attempts to include representation from various groups in the marginalized sections of society, which provides for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and women to have an intersectional decision-making process. 

The Act creates various authorities and offices under its folds, assigns them particular functions to fulfil and entitles them to certain powers. As a presiding officer for the three-tier system, the Act creates the offices of president, vice-president, chairperson, and vice-chairperson. The Act also assigns authority to the executive authority, commissioner, and secretary for the process of scrutinising and supervising the implementation of certain schemes and duties assigned to the respective tiers in the three-tier system. 

The Act is applicable throughout the state of Tamil Nadu and rules over the creation of the panchayat system, its powers, and its functions in the sphere of self-governance at the grassroot level. 

Section 2 of the Act deals with the essential definitions and attempts to cover and describe the terminologies used throughout the Act.

Panchayat (Section 2(21)): refers to the three tiers, which are village panchayats, panchayat unions, and district panchayats, which are formed under this Act. 

Village Panchayat (Section 2(37)): It refers to the panchayat responsible for a particular revenue village or a group of contiguous revenue villages. 

Panchayat Union (Section 2(23)): Panchayat Union refers to a body of self-governance that consists of a group of village panchayats within specified jurisdictional limits. 

District Panchayat (Section 2(9)): Refers to the tier that constitutes a panchayat for each panchayat district of Tamil Nadu. 

Gram Sabha (Section 2(13)): Refers to a group of people registered in the electoral roll of a village that constitutes a village panchayat.

Chairman (Section 2(3)): Refers to the elected head of the three bodies – village panchayat, the panchayat union, and the district panchayats.

Panchayat Village (Section 2(25)): refers to the revenue village, which will have a village panchayat.

The Tamil Nadu Panchayat Act is a comprehensive piece of legislation that became a milestone in shaping the landscape of politically decentralized governance in the state of Tamil Nadu. In the three-tier system of governance, at the bottom tier we have the village panchayat, panchayat union councils in the mid-tier and district panchayats at the top tier. The various features or provisions that make the Act wholesome are:

Panchayati Structures

Section 3 – Gram Sabha: The provision deals with the creation of a gram sabha to create a village plan, approve the plan, and deal with the budgeting aspects of the village governance and administration meticulously. They also approve the audit report of the village panchayat and scrutinize the progress of various projects and their implementations, including but not limited to government schemes. The Gram Sabha always provides guidance and recommendations to the village panchayats, which must abide by the said recommendations. Every Gram Sabha meeting is supervised by the President and the Vice President of the Gram Sabha. In case both the President and the Vice President are absent, a member selected by other members presides over the meeting. It is pertinent to note that there are specific territorial limits or jurisdictions for each tier of governance. It specifies the extent of the territory of geography on which the administrative powers and functions of each tier, namely village panchayats, panchayat unions, and district panchayats, would apply. This distinction helps to prevent the overlapping of powers and focuses the system on a particular area. 

Constitution of Panchayats

Section 4 – Formation of Panchayat Villages: This Section deals with the framework or constitutions of village panchayats in terms of deciding its members, the number of seats, the criteria for their selection, etc. It states that the panchayats are constituted through direct election to highlight the significance of democratic representation at the grassroots level. The Inspector declares with a notification that a specific local area comprises a revenue village, some revenue villages, or a portion of a revenue village as the “Panchayat Village” for the administration and delineation of territoriality. 

Section 8 Strength of Village Panchayat: This Section states that the Inspector will specify the number of members of a village panchayat based on the population of the villages constituting the panchayat as a whole. The number of members can be altered by the inspector from time to time by notification. In any case, the number can be at least 5 or more than 15.

Section 9 – Duration of Village Panchayat: Every Village Panchayat has a tenure or term of five years from the date of the first meeting post-election unless dissolved, the tenure remains constant. If dissolved, a fresh election is conducted to constitute the body before six months of the dissolution date. 

Section 10: Election of Village Panchayat Members: The Act prescribes the process of election for members of the village panchayats. One person cannot contest for election in more than one ward. A person who contests for election as a member cannot compete for the position of President of the Village Panchayat or member of the Panchayat Union Council or District Panchayat. 

Section 11: Reservation of Seats: This Section attempts to achieve inclusive representation for women and marginalized communities in the administrative and decision-making bodies. It states that a certain number of seats must be reserved for people belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes based on the proportion of the total number of seats to be filled in each village panchayat. Seats shall also be reserved for women belonging to the SC and ST categories at least 1/3rd of the total seats reserved for SC and ST members.  Seats shall also generally be reserved for women, not less than one-third of the total seats to be filled in village panchayats. The reservation of seats will cease to have effect once the effect of Article 334 of the Indian Constitution also ceases. 

Panchayat Union Councils

Section 15: Formation of a Panchayat Union Council: The state government can notify any particular area as a development block to implement the national extension service scheme or community development projects for the administration. These areas get notified as “Panchayat Development Block.” Each Panchayat Development Block will have a Panchayat Union. 

Section 17, 18 Term and Tenure: The Panchayat Union Council will have elected members for a duration of five years if it remains undissolved. If it undergoes dissolution, a fresh election must be conducted within six months of the date of dissolution. 

Section 19: Election of Members: Panchayat Union Councils will comprise people elected from wards constituting the panchayat Union, and the number of members will be proportionate to the region’s population based on the last census. A person is ineligible to contest from more than one ward or more than one panchayat union council. A person contesting the election for being a member of the panchayat Union Council becomes ineligible to compete as a member of Village Panchayat, District Panchayat or a village panchayat president. 

Section 20: Reservation of Seats: Seats shall be reserved for people from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and women from the community to seek adequate representation and inclusivity in the decision-making and governance bodies. 

District Panchayats

Section 24: Formation of District Panchayat: The government, via notification, creates a district panchayat for the administration of a particular district or portions of the municipality, town, or industrial township. The district panchayat will be considered a corporate body with perpetual succession. 

Section 25: Constitution of District Panchayat: The district panchayat will consist of elected members, members of the House of People, members of the state legislative assembly for the constituencies within the district, and members of the Council of States registered as electors within the district. All these members have the right to participate in district panchayat proceedings.

Section 26: Election: Members are elected from the wards, forming the distinct as per the method prescribed by the government from time to time. A person is ineligible to contest from more than one ward or more than one panchayat union council. A person contesting an election for being a member of the Panchayat Union Council becomes ineligible to contest as a member of Village Panchayat or District Panchayat or a president of Village Panchayat. 

Section 32: Reservation of Seats: The provision provides for the reservation of seats for women and people from Scheduled Castes and Tribes for inclusive representation in decision-making bodies. Seats for SC and ST individuals are reserved based on the proportion of their population in the district. Seats are to be reserved for women belonging to SC and ST communities; however, the same should not be less than one-third of the total seats reserved for SC and ST individuals. Seats are to be reserved for women in general, not less than one-third of the total seats in the district panchayat. 

These Sections deal with the qualifications and disqualifications of being a member or president of the panchayat.

Section 33: Qualification of Candidate: A candidate whose name is present in the electoral roll of the panchayat and has attained 21 years of age is qualified to contest for election as a member or president of the panchayat. 

Section 34: Disqualification of Government Officers and Servants: No officer holding office as a government servant, village administrative officer, or village servant for the state or central government is qualified to contest for election. An officer who used to hold office but has been dismissed for corruption or disloyalty is disqualified for five years from the date of dismissal. 

Section 35: Persons convicted of offences related to elections are also disqualified from contesting panchayat elections for six years from the date of conviction. 

Section 36: If a person is declared by a court to be of unsound mind, is not 21 years of age, and does not appear on the electoral roll, then the person is not eligible to be a voter for the panchayat elections. 

Section 37: Enlists a large number of offences for which, when a person is convicted, they become disqualified to contest elections. Some of the offences include: promoting enmity between people of different religions, bribery, undue influence, cruelty towards a woman by husband or relative, preaching or practicing untouchability, adulteration of food, insulting national flag, etc.

Section 38A: If a person is a member of a state legislative assembly or of either house of the parliament, then the person is disqualified to be the president, vice-president, chairman, vice-chairman or member of the panchayats.

Every village panchayat will have a president and a vice-president for efficient administration. 

Election of President (Section 43): The election of the president shall take place from the names of those who appear in the electoral roll of the village in the prescribed procedure. The election of the president shall happen at the same time and place as the election of members of the panchayat. Every president is elected for a term of five years. 

Election of Vice President (Section 44): The Vice President is elected from the elected members of the village panchayat based on the procedure prescribed. 

Functions of the President (Section 46): The president is tasked with the responsibility of convening meetings of the village panchayat and gram sabhas. He has the right to access all the village panchayat records, and he must discharge his duties as per the power bestowed upon him by the Act. He must also see to the implementation of all the schemes and programmes given to the village panchayat for implementation. He shall be the point of correspondence between the village panchayat and the government. 

Every Panchayat Union Council will have a chairman and vice chairman for administration and governance.

Section 50: Election of Chairman: The chairman is elected from the elected members of the panchayat union council as per the procedure prescribed. 

Section 51: Election of Vice Chairman: The vice chairman is also elected from the elected members of the panchayat union council as per the procedure prescribed. 

Section 52: Function of Chairman: The Chairman is tasked with the duty of convening meetings and discharging duties prescribed by the Act. He shall have access to all the records and the point of correspondence for communication with the Government. 

Every district panchayat will have a chairman and a vice chairman for administration purposes.

Section 56: Election: As soon as the members of a district panchayat are elected, they shall elect a chairman and vice chairman within themselves. It is pertinent to note that there shall be a reservation of seats for the Chairman, Vice Chairman, President, and Vice President of all three tiers for women and people belonging to the SC and ST communities as well as women belonging to the SC and ST communities. 

Section 81: Every member has certain rights. They can seek the attention of the executive commissioner or the secretary towards any negligence in the executive of work assigned to the panchayat or towards any waste of the panchayat property and may provide suggestions for improvement. They have the right to move resolutions to the President and Chairman on administration matters. They shall have access to panchayat records after giving notice to the Executive Authority or Commissioner.

Sections 83 and 84: The government has the power to appoint, by notification, any person based on the rules and procedures as the executive authority of a village panchayat for fulfilling certain functions with powers bestowed upon him. He has the power to implement the resolutions of village panchayats. He controls all the officers and servants of the village panchayats and fulfils any other function conferred upon him by the Act. 

Section 85: The government shall appoint a commissioner for every Panchayat Union Council who shall be a Development Officer appointed under the National Extension Service Scheme. He shall attend meetings but not with the right to move resolutions or vote, carry the resolutions of the panchayat council into effect, furnish periodical reports on progress and tax collection, control all the officers and servants under the council and perform any other duties bestowed on him based on this Act. 

Sections 87 and 88: The government shall appoint an officer not below the rank of Divisional Development Officer as the Secretary for the District Panchayat. He shall supervise the implementation of all district panchayat projects, attend meetings, carry out resolutions, furnish periodic reports on progress, control all the officers and servants under the council and perform any other duties bestowed on him based on this Act. 

Section 89: Every meeting is presided over by the president or the chairman, and in their absence, the vice president or vice chairman, as the case may be and in their absence, a member selected by other members. The presiding authority decides all the matters to be discussed in a meeting. 

Section 90: Every panchayat must meet and conduct business at a specific time and place. Two meetings shall never be apart by more than sixty days. 

Section 91: Members having a conflict of interest in any matter shall not be allowed to discuss or vote on those matters. The President or Chairman, has the power to prohibit any particular member from voting upon being satisfied that they have an interest in the matter being voted upon. Such a prohibition can be challenged, but the decision of the meeting is final. 

Section 92: The minutes of every meeting must be recorded and provided to all the members within 48 hours of the meeting and shall be submitted to the inspector within three days. 

The Panchayat System in Tamil Nadu has been differentiated into three active tiers of levels of administration to maintain parity in jurisdictions, powers, and functions. Each tier has an important role in administering and conducting local governance. Let’s explore the three tiers and their unique governance roles and functions. A fresh election will be held in cases of casual vacancies in the president’s office. 

Village Panchayats

Constitution: One village panchayat is constituted for each revenue village or a group of revenue villages to define their jurisdiction and allow for smooth governance and administration.

Composition: Every village panchayat has elected representatives who carry the position of president and specific ward members. The population of the village decides the number of ward members. 


  • Regional Planning (Sections 116-118): Village panchayats are entrusted with the duty of creating and supervising the implementation of a plan of action related to the field of local development, which can be in the form of developing infrastructure, managing public health conditions and maintaining healthy levels of sanitation.
  • Economic Growth (Sections 110 and111): The village panchayats play an active role in the promotion of economic ventures inside the villages for the purpose of growing the spirit of entrepreneurship. They also help in the field of economic development by providing support to farmers and agriculturists, promoting small-scale and cottage industries and initiating initiatives for livelihood maintenance. 
  • Social Justice (Sections 116-118): This is one of the most important functions of a village panchayat. They are entrusted with the responsibility of managing programs aiming to alleviate poverty, maintaining official documentation for births and deaths and taking any initiative necessary for the development of society and the promotion of community welfare efficiently. 
  • Local Governance: This is the primary responsibility of village panchayats, as they are bodies of local self-governance and are entrusted with the power to make decisions on any issue or subject that has an impact on the welfare of the village and its population. 

Panchayat Unions

Constitution: Panchayat Unions consist of a number of village panchayats within a certain jurisdictional limit or specified area.

Composition: Panchayat Unions consist of representatives who are elected democratically and include a chairperson and ward members and representatives who represent each village panchayat under the supervision or limits of the union. 


  • Planning and Coordinating (Sections 112 and 113): The panchayat unions are entrusted with the responsibility of conducting development initiatives across all village panchayats within their jurisdiction. They also scrutinise all initiatives taken by village panchayats  to provide an overview of their progress and address obstacles. 
  • Rural Progress (Section 115): The panchayat unions are focused on activities that would result in the development of rural areas. These activities include the promotion of agricultural initiatives, giving support to rural industries and any other economic growth projects. 
  • Poverty Eradication (Section 115): This is a socio-economic responsibility wherein the Panchayat Unions are entrusted with the responsibility of addressing the problems and difficulties faced by financially struggling people. They also take initiatives to alleviate or eradicate poverty from the lives of people under their jurisdiction. 
  • Maintaining Infrastructure (Section 126): While the village panchayats are entrusted with the responsibility of building infrastructure and developing it through various construction projects, the panchayat unions are responsible for managing it and preventing any damage or degradation. They usually maintain the public amenities, utilities, grazing grounds, and playgrounds. 

District Panchayats

Constitution:  Each revenue district has a district panchayat to look over its governance and administration in Tamil Nadu. 

Composition: Each district panchayat has representatives who are democratically elected and have positions of a Chairperson and member representing each constituency based on territory inside the district. 

Functions (Section 163-166):

  • District-Wide Planning: District Panchayats have a very important responsibility of developing plans of action for initiating economic progress in each district and conducting projects that lead to social justice and societal growth and development. 
  • Supervision: They are the higher authorities that supervise the progress of projects undertaken by the village panchayats and the panchayat unions. They are entrusted with the power to monitor the development of each project, and they can do it by seeking project updates and reports of progress from relevant stakeholders. 
  • Approving Schemes: If certain schemes are undertaken to be implemented throughout the district, then the district panchayats have the responsibility of reviewing the schemes and approving their implementation after understanding their feasibility. 
  • Fiscal Oversight: The district panchayats are responsible for monitoring the monetary progress and performance of the subordinate tiers of panchayats and handling financial responsibilities effectively. 

Additional and Supplementary Powers and Functions 

  • Financial Independence: Each level of governance has a level of financial autonomy and must levy taxes and maintain the duty of collecting revenue from members of the panchayats. Monetary funds are provided by the state government, and every level of governance maintains funds, which are in the form of Panchayat Funds. 
  • Committees and Councils: Panchayats have to form committees, which are in the form of Standing Committees and District Planning Committees, and each of these committees has certain functions and roles to fulfil in terms of decision-making and development at various levels of administration. 
  • Development Initiatives: Panchayat Development Planning Committees and Development Authorities are pivotal in creating and supervising plans that are essential for maintaining economic and financial growth and promoting social welfare. 

The three tiers of the Panchayat System in Tamil Nadu are formulated to maintain governance at every level and provide upliftment to the local public. They facilitate grassroots democracy and participative decision-making processes and foster connections between relevant stakeholders. The distinction of functions and distribution of power helps maintain an efficient form of administration through public development initiatives, growth projects and interconnected governance structures. These unique roles and functions are essential to creating an efficient self-governance mechanism.  

Section 110: Duty of Village Panchayat to provide for certain matters within the limits of its funds like construction, repair and maintenance of village roads, lighting of public places, drainage construction, street cleaning, public toilets, maintenance of burial grounds, maintenance of public wells, etc. 

Section 111: Power of village panchayat to offer for matters related to and make provisions for: planting and preserving trees, opening public markets, controlling fairs and festivals, public landing places, public slaughterhouses, public reading rooms, literacy centres and other utilities. 

Section 112: Panchayat Union Council to provide for the construction, repair and maintenance of public roads, construction of water works, dispensaries, child welfare centres, poor houses, orphanages, shops and stalls, elementary schools, epidemic prevention measures, control of fairs, veterinary relief, birth and death statistics, cottage industries, and improvement in agriculture. 

Section 113: Panchayat Union Councils are entrusted with the execution of the National Extension Service Cheme for the development of the regional community. 

Section 120: The village panchayat is responsible for all unreserved forests vested in it under this Act, which shall be administered for the benefit of the village. 

Section 123: The government can, by notification, add to the function of the Panchayat Union Council, which it needs to abide by. 

Section 132: Any communal property or income of any particular revenue village is entrusted to the village panchayat for the benefit of the village. 

Every administrative body requires funds for implementing projects and conducting their business with ease. In this regard, Section 185 calls for the constitution of a panchayat union fund and a village panchayat fund for each panchayat union and village panchayat. For each panchayat union, a general fund and an education fund are created. 

The Panchayat Union General Fund shall include the receipts of the proceeds from local cess, local cess surcharge, surcharge on duty and entertainment tax. It also includes fees on licenses issued by the Panchayat Union Council. Fees levied on markets, fees for occupation of road, use of choultries, etc. 

The panchayat union education fund, on the other hand, will include local education grants paid by the government, fines and penalties levied, income derived from the endowment, and sums received for elementary education. 

Village Panchayat Fund includes all the house tax or any other tax or cess levied, professional tax, proportionate share of proceeds of the local cess, local cess surcharge, surcharge on the duty on transfers of property, entertainment tax received by the Village Panchayat, income derived from fisheries, fees for temporary occupation, etc. 

The success of any legislation depends largely on the efficacy of its implementation, the obstacles it faces in terms of implementation, and how those obstacles are countered effectively. The effectiveness of any Act can be analysed by studying the extent of its judicious implementation. Let’s have a look at the implementation status of the Act. 

Areas of implementation

  • Public empowerment: The Act has empowered the local public and has governed their needs effectively by maintaining the ethos of decentralised decision-making and allowing communities to be autonomous and self-governing in every way possible. Through community participation and participatory democracy, local communities are empowered effectively. 
  • Devolution of powers: Distribution of powers in the fields of administration, finances, planning and governance. Panchayats have a very influential effect on making sure that the local authorities are involved in the process of societal development and growth. 
  • Social inclusion: The process of social inclusion is governed by facilitating diversity in representation bodies. The Act makes space for allowing inclusivity and diversity in the decision-making process. This allows a diversified view of social issues and an intersectional problem-solving approach. 
  • Development projects: The Act creates a formal legal framework for developing plans towards establishing projects related to development and infrastructure for the upliftment of local communities and community-involved projects. 

Challenges for Implementation

  • Lack of resources: A lot of panchayat bodies fail to secure enough monetary support and financial backing for undertaking projects towards the development of infrastructure and growth. The lack of funds creates a major obstacle to developing public amenities and utilities and also to maintaining the administration effectively throughout. The resource problem also leads to delays in the completion of projects and makes people lose faith in the administrative abilities of the institution. 
  • Administrative capacities: The lack of a well-structured and well-functioning administrative setup at the regional level is a major reason for failures in the administrative operations of the local bodies. Many panchayats have a dearth of proper administrative capacity in India, which becomes a reason for their inefficiency. 
  • Political involvement: There are multiple situations where political influences in these self-governing bodies have led to power imbalances, corruption and malice in many ways. These political influences have an adverse effect on the impartial and fair decision-making process as they try to fulfil their own agenda and forget the interests of the community. 
  • Awareness and capacity building: Lack of awareness, education, political knowledge and administrative ideas in the elected members as well as the members of the community often affects effective governance or administration of the local areas. There must be capacity-building exercises to address the unique challenges and initiate effective governance. 
  • Infrastructure deficiency: Lack of infrastructural developments in both physical and technological spheres can affect the progress of the community and maintain the proper progress of infrastructural issues. This also affects the digitalisation of administration and can hamper areas of communication and data storage. 
  • Lack of coordination: Issues of coordination that exist amongst various tiers of panchayats and different administrative departments of the governments of the state can highly impact the wholesome level of planning and implementation of development projects. Having strong communication and coordination can help in achieving coordinated progress and development for all projects. 
  • Election lacunas: There are many conflicts and loopholes that exist in the process of election, and that leads to a lot of disputes and conflicts that delay the process and create irregularities in the process. This has a larger consequence for the smooth functioning of the panchayats. Disruptions in the election process affect the impartiality and fairness of representative democracy.
  • Community Involvement: Even though the main object of the Act is to engage the community and the local public in participating in the process of self-governance, their lack of interest in actively and meaningfully engaging in the process can lead to disruptions and obstacles in the efficient administration and functioning of the bodies. 

Recommendations for countering the challenges

  • Capacity building: There must be investments made by the government in the field of building a strong capacity for all stakeholders to make them capable of administering the right way. They must invest in training programs and skill development initiatives for the members of the panchayat who are democratically elected by the people. 
  • Financial support: There must be newer sources of financial support for the panchayat bodies and local self-governing institutions. The Government must explore newer avenues for the increased generation of financial resources for administration. 
  • Transparency in governance: The self-governing institutions must always maintain transparent functioning to counter the involvement of political and corrupt elements. Having an accountable and transparent governance mechanism helps build community trust in the functioning of the institutions. 
  • Digitalisation and technology integration: The local self-governing bodies must always try to incorporate modern technological solutions for data management, information processing, security and accessibility in terms of maintaining efficient coordination between the government and panchayats. 
  • Community awareness building: There must always be initiatives to promote awareness amongst the people of the community. There must be attempts to create a well-functioning culture of community involvement in the sphere of local governance. 
  • Coordination between various departments: The panchayat bodies must actively attempt to maintain meticulous coordination between the various departments of the government for effective scrutinisation of projects, infrastructural developments and the progress of initiatives and schemes. 
  • Reviewing and amending: There must be efficient periodical review procedures in place to review the progress of initiatives and projects undertaken by the panchayat bodies and systems. By ensuring a proper legislative formal procedure for reviewing and scrutinising the process. This allows for making changes and implementing regular action plans for the development of public works. 

While certain obstacles come in the path of absolute meticulous implementation of the Act, there need to be certain changes in the system to address the loopholes and hindrances effectively and immaculately implement the law. 

The Tamil Nadu Panchayat Act is a diverse form of legislation that attempts to facilitate the national ideals of decentralised governance and grassroot level of democracy. It attempts to create a legal framework for local decision-making and formulates the process of election of stakeholders, the powers, functions and duties of each body and its members, and a complaint resolution mechanism for the same. While there are impeding obstacles in the path of implementation, with the right redressal actions and mechanisms, they can be dealt with effectively to establish a fair, impartial and immaculate self-governance body in Tamil Nadu. To conclude, it is fair to say that the Act is an excellent piece of legislation that can serve as a model for governance and administrative regulations for other states as well. Through multiple progressive amendments, the final shape that the Act has taken is sustainable and functional and carries forward the spirit of participative democracy meticulously. 


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