Panchayati Raj: Powers, Functions, Duties Role and Responsibilities of Sarpanch or Panchayati Raj Head

Publish Date: 06 Apr, 2021
Panchayati Raj: Powers, Functions, Duties Role and Responsibilities of Sarpanch or Panchayati Raj Head

Panchayati Raj:

Since the country is very much drowned in the election kind of vibes as many parts of the country conducting the Vidhan Sabha elections 2021. However, one major elections that is less talked about is also going on in India's largest population state. Yes we are talking about the UP Panchayat Elections 2021.  However, most city deweller know about the National and Assembly level elections, but have limited knowledge of Panchayat Elections. So lets us talk about election process followed by the small cities and villages of India that follow the Panchayati Raj system to elect their representative. 


What is Panchayati Raj?:

Panchayati Raj System of election is a system of local government in India where ‘raj’ means to rule and ‘panchayat’ means an assembly of five. Panchayati Raj is a political system where the wise and elders are chosen by the local community to settle disputes between individuals and between villages too. 


Who is the head of a Panchayat?:

Every group of Panchayat i.e., the council of 5 wise men elected by the locals are guarded by the head of Panchayat who is usually referred to as a “Sarpanch” or Mukhya”.


How is the Panchayat head elected?:

Panchayats are the basic village governing institutes operational at the grassroots level of India (small villages of India). If asked in a layman’s language, panchayats work as political institutions which act as a cabinet of the village. 

The sarpanch of a gram panchayat is elected by the means of elections which are conducted every 5 years and every candidate who is resident of the concerned territory above the age of 18 years can vote for the election of a sarpanch. 


Tenure of a Sarpanch (head of Panchayat):

Every head of a gram panchayat is elected for a tenure of 5 years.  


History of Panchayat:

Currently prevailing in various regions of India, the Panchayati Raj system is divided into three tiers which are: Zila Parishad which works at the district level, Nagar Palika which works at the block level and Gram Panchayats which work at the village level. 

Nagur village of Rajasthan state was the first village of India to establish the Gram Panchayat and implement the Panchayati Raj system. The establishment of Gram Panchayat at Nagur village, Rajasthan dates back to 2nd October 1959. 


The reason behind the establishment of the Panchayati Raj system:

The basic reason behind the establishment of the Panchayati Raj system post-independence (partition) at the rural level of the country, was the failed attempts to deal with the local matters cause at the national level in the year 1992. Hence, panchayats were reintroduced in various states of India for self-governance at local villages.  


Roles and responsibilities of a Sarpanch:

The sarpanch of a Gram Sabha is obliged to perform various duties other than ensuring proper abidance of law and order at the territorial area under his governance.

Elected by the locals of the village, a sarpanch is bound to perform various roles and deliver specified responsibilities which are mentioned below:


  • Sarpanch is legally liable to organise Gram Sabha meetings.
  • Every sarpanch is bound to organise a minimum of two Gram Sabha meeting on prescribed dates by the Government every year.
  • A sarpanch should perform all necessary tasks which ensure the larger participation of residents of the territorial area under his governance at Gram Sabha meetings.
  • Every sarpanch should motivate every section of society including the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Women to participate in meetings and should encourage them to share their grievances and give suggestions and advice which can further be discussed at the Gram Sabha meetings.
  • A sarpanch should conduct all the Gram Sabha meetings except the Social Audit of Gram Sabha.
  • A sarpanch is liable to sign the register which is meant to record the minutes of the Gram Sabha meeting.
  • Being the chairperson of the Gram Sabha meeting, a Sarpanch can also answer the questions raised at the Gram Sabha by members.
  • A Sarpanch is responsible to play a pro-active role in initiating proper operations on the Gram Sabha resolutions.
  • A sarpanch has must ensure the discussion of suggestions made in Gram Sabha meetings, at Gram Panchayat meetings.


As an overview, the Panchayati Raj system of governance and law works as a great link between the Union Government and the local rural regions of our country and ensures that proper law and order is maintained at much lower levels of the country.


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