ITANAGAR, Nov 21: With barely 6 months left for the Panchayats bodies in the State to complete their 5 years tenure, speculations are rife as to when the next Panchayat election will be held in the State and if the delimitation of the existing Panchayat constituencies will be carried out.
The Department of Panchayati Raj, govt of Arunachal Pradesh has come out with clarifications quoting the constitutional provision relating to PR election. As per Article 243 E (1), ‘Every Panchayat, unless sooner dissolved under any law for the time being inforce, shall continue for five years from the date appointed for its meeting and no longer’. The same Article under clause (3) states, ‘An election to constitute a Panchayat shall be completed- (a) before the expiry of its duration specified in clause (1)’.
The implication of the above Constitutional provision is that the duration of the Panchayat is fixed as 5 years and cannot be extended under any clause. Further, the election has to be conducted before the expiry of the 5-years duration. If for any circumstances, the election is not conducted, the tenure of the Panchayats in the State will automatically lapse during May 2013.
The above Article inserted in the Constitution of India by the Constitution (73rd Amendment) Act, 1992 is to be complied in letter and spirit.
In some states, the State govt failed to conduct the election for certain reasons. The State govt decisions were challenged in the High Courts and the Supreme Court. In their rulings, the Courts have quashed the decisions of State govts and directed the States to conduct the election as per provision of the Constitution.
In WP (Civil) No. 719 of 1995, the Supreme Court in its judgment dated 12th August 1997, observed “…It is necessary to emphasise that various clauses of Art. 243 are to be followed in letter and spirit. The concerned states cannot be permitted to withhold Election of Panchayats except in case of genuine supervening difficulties, e.g., unforeseen natural calamities in the state like flood, earthquake etc., or urgent situation prevailing in the state for which Election of the Panchayat cannot be held in time. It will be unfortunate if the concerned states remain insensitive to the Constitutional mandate of holding Election of Panchayats in time.”
Another issue where clarifications are being sought is the issue of delimitation of Panchayat Constituencies. In this regard, the Department of PR has clarified that as per govt decision, the delimitation process will be henceforth, carried out by the State Election Commission (SEC) Itanagar. However, for carrying out the delimitation, ‘The Arunachal Pradesh Panchayat Raj Act, 1997’ and ‘The AP Panchayati Raj (Delimitation of Constituencies and Reservation of Seats for Women) Rules, 2002’ are required to be amended first. The process of amendment of the said Act and the Rules are at present under progress.
Further, the delimitation process is to be carried out as per the latest Population Census Report. However, the Census Report 2011 has still not being published by the Directorate of Census Operation, Arunachal Pradesh, Shillong.
The amendment process and the publication of Census Report of 2011 may take time. Therefore, the Department of PR or the State Election Commission may not be in position to carry out the delimitation of the Panchayat constituencies before the next Panchayat election.
The next PR election, scheduled to be held during April-May 2013, is likely to be held on the basis of existing Anchal Samiti, Gram Panchayat and Gram Panchayat segments, this was stated by Bidol Tayeng, Director of Panchayati Raj, GoAP here today.