- Amendment to PR Act approved to elect Sarpanchs directly
SRINAGAR: Governor, Shri N N Vohra on Thursday chaired the 4th meeting of the State Administrative Council (SAC) here. Advisors to the Governor, Shri B B Vyas, Shri K Vijay Kumar and Shri Khurshid Ahmad Ganai besides Chief Secretary, Shri BVR Subrahmanyam attended the meeting. The SAC approved the proposal to amend the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, 1989, for conducting elections of Sarpanches of Halqa Panchayats directly by the electorate of Halqa Panchayats and not by indirect method of electing Sarpanches from among the Panches themselves. This will restore the original position in the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, 1989, which provided for direct elections of Sarpanches, a position altered by an amendment passed in 2016.
The need for doing this amendment was to restore the primacy and importance of the Sarpanches in the Panchayati Raj System and giving them the necessary legitimacy to be able to discharge their functions. This provides stability in the Panchayati Raj System and ensures accelerated development which meets local needs. Direct elections also make the Sarpanches accountable directly to the people rather than to an intermediate group. Further, this amendment brings the spirit of the 73rd Constitutional Amendment to the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act.
The SAC also directed the Department of Rural Development & Panchayati Raj to initiate the process of holding elections to Panchayats in consultation with the Chief Electoral Officer, J&K. With the holding of elections to the Panchayats, the institution of local self-governance at the village level will be revived in the state, thereby furthering inclusion and percolation of benefits of decentralized planning at the grass-root level. It will also ensure greater participation of people in planning and formulation of area specific policies and programmes and hence their involvement in decision making process.