13 Important Recommendations by the Ashok Mehta Committee – In December 1977, the Janata Government appointed a committee on Panchayati Raj institutions under the chairmanship of Ashok Mehta.
- The committee submitted its report in August 1978 and made 132 recommendations to revive and strengthen the declining Panchayati Raj system in the country.
- As a result of this report, the Indian states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and West Bengal passed new legislation.
- However, the flow of politics at the state level did not allow the institutions to develop their own political dynamics.
The main recommendations of the committee are:
- The 3-tier system of Panchayati Raj should be replaced by the 2-tier system: Zilla Parishad at the district level, and below it,the Mandal Panchayat consisting of a group of villages covering a population of 15000 to 20000.
- A district should be the first point for decentralisation under popular supervision below the state level.
- Zila Parishad should be the executive body and made responsible for planning at the district level.
- There should be an official participation of political parties at all levels of Panchayat elections.
- The Panchayat Raj institutions should have compulsory powers of taxation to mobilise their own financial resources.
- There should be a regular social audit by a district level agency and by a committee of legislators to check whether the funds allotted for the vulnerable social and economic groups are actually spent on them.
- The state government should not supersede the Panchayat Raj institutions. In case of an imperative supersession, election should be held within 6 months from the date of supersession.
- The Nyaya Panchayats should be kept as separate bodies from that of development Panchayats. They should be presided over by a qualified judge.
- The Chief Electoral Officer of the state in consultation with the Chief Election Commissioner should organise and conduct the Panchayati Raj elections.
- Development functions should be transferred to the Zila Parishad and all development staff should work under its control and supervision.
- The voluntary agencies should play an important role in mobilising the support of the people for Panchayati Raj.
- A minister for Panchayati Raj should be appointed in the state council of ministers to look after the affairs of the Panchayati Raj institutions.
- Seats for SCs and Sts should be reserved on the basis of their population.