News: Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) promised“strict implementation” of The Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA Act).
GS Paper 2: Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation; Mechanisms, Laws, Institutions and Bodies constituted for the Protection and Betterment of these Vulnerable Sections.
History of PESA
- To promote local self-governance in rural India, the 73rd constitutional amendment was made in 1992. Through this amendment, a three-tier Panchayati Raj Institution was made into a law. However, its application to the scheduled and tribal areas under Article 243(M) was restricted.
- After the Bhuria Committee recommendations in 1995, Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act 1996 came into existence for ensuring tribal self-rule for people living in scheduled areas of India.
What is The Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA Act)?
- The PESA Act was enacted in 1996 “to provide for the extension of the provisions of Part IX of the Constitution relating to the Panchayats to the Scheduled Areas”. (Other than Panchayats, Part IX, comprising Articles 243-243ZT of the Constitution, contains provisions relating to Municipalities and Cooperative Societies.)
- Under the PESA Act, Scheduled Areas are those referred to in Article 244(1), which says that the provisions of the Fifth Schedule shall apply to the Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes in states other than Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram.
- The Fifth Schedule provides for a range of special provisions for these areas.
What are the salient features of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 (PESA)?
- Legislation on Panchayats shall be in conformity with the customary law, social and religious practices and traditional management practices of community resources.
- Habitation or a group of habitations or a hamlet or a group of hamlets comprising a community and managing its affairs in accordance with traditions and customs; and shall have a separate Gram Sabha.
- Every Gram Sabha to safeguard and preserve the traditions and customs of people, their cultural identity, community resources and the customary mode of dispute resolution.
- The Gram Sabhas have roles and responsibilities in approving all development works in the village, identifying beneficiaries, issuing certificates of utilization of funds; powers to control institutions and functionaries in all social sectors and local plans.
What are the powers and functions of Gram Sabha or Panchayats under the PESA Act?
Gram Sabhas or Panchayats at appropriate level shall have following powers
- To Manage minor water bodies
- Power of mandatory consultation in matters of land acquisition.
- Resettlement and rehabilitation and prospecting licenses/mining leases for minor minerals
- Power to prevent alienation of land and restore alienated land.
- Regulate and restrict sale/consumption of liquor.
- Manage village markets, control money lending to STs.
- Ownership of minor forest produce.
How is the PESA Act, 1996 supposed to work?
- The PESA Act was enacted to ensure self-governance through Gram Sabhas (village assemblies) for people living in the Scheduled Areas.
- It recognises the right of tribal communities, who are residents of the Scheduled Areas, to govern themselves through their own systems of self-government, and also acknowledges their traditional rights over natural resources.
- In pursuance of this objective, the Act empowers Gram Sabhas to play a key role in approving development plans and controlling all social sectors. This includes the processes and personnel who implement policies, exercising control over minor (non-timber) forest resources, minor water bodies and minor minerals, managing local markets, preventing land alienation and regulating intoxicants among other things.
- State governments are expected to amend their respective Panchayati Raj Acts without making any law that would be inconsistent with the mandate of PESA.
Sources: Indian Express, PIB, MHA, Down To Earth
1.Indian Express: https://bit.ly/3QrO9YJ
4.Down To Earth: https://bit.ly/3ROEGvQ