CONG PANEL FIRM UP RECOMMENDATIONS

Suggests Constitutional Guarantee For 5-Yr Term For Panchayats; Powers On Analogy Of Hill Development Council; Financial Audit By CAG; Constitution Of Election & Finance Commission

ABID BASHIR

Srinagar, Nov 19: The panel constituted by the state Congress to suggest amendments to be incorporated in J&K Panchayati Raj Act has advocated constitutional guarantee for 5-year term to Panchayat representatives and financial audit of Panchayats by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India.
The party panel for Kashmir valley, headed by MLA Dooru Ghulam Ahmed Mir has suggested devolution of powers to Panchayats on the pattern of Hill Development Councils (HDCs) and end of nomination system for the posts of Block Chairmen and District Chairmen.
“We are for fool-proof three tier system of Panchayat Raj that’s why we demanded postponement of Block Development Council (BDC) polls,” Mir told Greater Kashmir. “We have suggested that there has to be constitutional guarantee for five-year term for the Panchayats. At present, even a single untoward political development, or for that matter a senior official can declare the Panchayat Halqa as null and void. So constitutional guarantee is a must,” he said.
He said the panel headed by him has finalized the list of provisions of the 73rd amendment to be incorporated in the J&K Panchayati Raj Act. “I think there should be no problem for our alliance partner (National Conference) to agree to what we have suggested in our report,” Mir said. He said the committee has recommended reservation for Schedule Tribe and Schedule Castes and women for BDC polls. “At the same time, we have also demanded some percentage of reservation for the Other Social Castes (OSCs) and Other Backward Classes (OBCs) as well,” he said.
Mir refused to divulge details of further recommendations. However, sources privy to the report said the committee has suggested that powers to dissolve Panchayats should be with the State Cabinet only. For the block-level elections, the Congress committee has advocated that any voter of a particular block can contest for the post of Block Chairman and there should be no nominations for the posts of Block Chairmen and District Chairmen. “Chairman of a block can be a Sarpanch and vice-chairman can be a Panch,” sources said.
The committee has, however, put a rider that for the post of District Chairman, a Member Parliament should not be eligible. “MPs should not be allowed to contest as they already have a vast constituency comprising more than three districts. An MLA or MLC too can become the elected chairman of the District,” a source said. He said the committee formed by the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief, Prof Saifuddin Soz, has kept the model of Hill Development Councils in mind while framing the report.
Sources said, the committee has stated in its report that despite the fact that the State Panchayat Raj Act has mention of constituting the Election Commission and Finance Commission, but on ground no commission is in place. “The report has vociferously demanded constitution of both commissions on fast-track basis,” sources said.
They said the committee has also evolved consensus that the fund-flow to Panchayats should be audited by CAG. “The report states, the way Assembly presents CAG report annually, fund flow to Panchayats should be audited by same authority,” sources said. The report, sources said, will be tabled in the NC-Congress Coordination Committee soon after Congress high command in New Delhi gives a go ahead for the same.
Pertinently, it took Congress more than a month to finalize the provisions it wanted to incorporate in the existing Panchayati Raj Act of the State. The party had stressed for the postponement of BDC elections for which the government had already issued notification and were supposed to be held on November 7.  The polls were cancelled through an ordinance approved by the State Cabinet.

Lastupdate on : Mon, 19 Nov 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 19 Nov 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 20 Nov 2012 00:00:00 IST




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