Uniformity needed in rotation of seats in panchayats: Panel

New Delhi: A measure of uniformity should be brought in the modalities of rotation of seats for giving 50 per cent reservation to women in panchayats, a Parliamentary committee has suggested the government.

The Standing Committee on Rural Development has noted that in the proposed Constitutional amendment for the purpose, the modalities regarding rotation of reserved seats has been left entirely to the states, with the result that there will be no uniformity among states in the matter of rotation.

"The Committee desire that action should be taken through this Constitutional amendment to achieve a measure of uniformity in the modalities of rotation of seats by ensuring that rotation of seats, after at least two cycles, is provided for," it said in its report tabled in the Lok Sabha today.

The Committee, headed by Sumitra Mahajan, noted in its report that only Tamil Nadu and Bihar have the provision of rotation of seats after two cycles and that the Ministry of Panchayati Raj is in the process of interacting with state governments on the issue.

The proposed Bill, which was introduced in the Lok Sabha on November 26 last year, was referred to the Parliamentary standing committee by the LS Speaker Meira Kumar December last year for examination and report.

The Bill seeks to provide 50 per cent reservation to women in three tier of Panchayati Raj Institutions by an amendment in the Constitution.

At present, only one third seats are reserved for women in panchayats.

The standing committee also noted that in the proposed Bill, proviso relates to the reservation of offices of chairpersons in panchayats to the entire scheduled castes and scheduled tribes population.

The scheduled caste and Scheduled Tribes population is spread in rural as well as urban areas. The Committee feels that reservation of offices of chairpersons in panchayats should be linked only to the rural scheduled castes and scheduled tribes population so that it reflects appropriate demographic representation, the Committee suggested.

The word 'rural' should be added before the word population occurring in the provision of the proposed Bill, the committee recommended.

It underlined that enhancement of reservation for women in panchayats "ought to be" accompanied by sound measures for capacity building and training of elected women members in panchayats.

However, the national capacity building framework is "under-funded and has not been effectively implemented so far", the committee felt, saying that "this must be corrected".

It suggested that to meet the capacity building and training requirements of the PRIs, one percent of the funds for centrally sponsored schemes of different ministries related to rural development be earmarked for it.

This amount may also be utilised for catering to promote e-governance in PRIs by utilizing the information and communication technology network of the National Informatics centre, it added.

"The committee desire that immediate steps should be taken to ensure effective implementation of all capacity building plans so that proposed enhancement of reservation of seats for women in panchayats really yield intended results," it said.