New Delhi: Panchayats can formulate their own programmes of economic development and social justice as they enjoy a Constitutional status, the Supreme Court has ruled.
The apex court said Article 40 and Articles 243 to 243-O envisages that the framers of the Constitution had envisaged village panchayat to be the foundation of the country`s political democracy - a decentralised form of government where each village was to be responsible for its own affairs.
A bench of justices GS Singhvi and SJ Mukhopadhya passed the ruling while allowing an appeal filed by the village panchayat of Calangute in Goa challenging a Bombay High Court order which had taken the view that the local body cannot challenge any decision taken by the executive authority.
In this case, the Additional Director of Panchayat-II had overruled a resolution passed by the panchayat quashing the permission granted to a private company for carrying out certain commercial activities.
Though the Panchayat appealed against the official`s decision the high court dismissed it following which it appealed in the apex court.
"The primary focus of the subjects enumerated in the Eleventh Schedule is on social and economic development of the rural parts of the country by conferring upon the Panchayat the status of a constitutional body.
"Parliament has ensured that the Panchayats would no longer perform the role of simply executing the programs and policies evolved by the political executive of the state.
"By virtue of the provisions contained in Part IX, the panchayats have been empowered to formulate and implement their own programs of economic development and social justice in tune with their status as the third tier of government which is mandated to represent the interests of the people living within its jurisdiction," the bench said.