ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

Panchayat Accountability

M A Oommen’s paper “Limits of a ‘Devolution Index’” (EPW, 18 July 2009) assumes that the scope of panchayat (or local government) accountability is limited to external and social audit. This is totally wrong. The institutional accountability of local government is to its creator – the government. In India this is the state government. The only exception is Brazil where the municipal government is a creature of its constitution and enjoys coordinate powers along with the states and federal governments. This is the primary or vertical accountability. Apart from this, in many western democracies there are legal provisions for citizen or voters’ accountability by way of referendum, citizens’ charter, right to information and disclosure requirements. Sometimes these are enacted separately, as under the Indian RTI Act.

In India, social accountability of the panchayats to the gram sabhas becomes a reality when the state legislation provides for it and this is to be performed within its parameters. For a variety of reasons, this is not being performed adequately and there is no sanction attached to the panchayat legislation for non-performance. As for external audit, it is a part of the panchayats’ primary accountability to their creator-state. I thought it is important for the panchayat activists to understand the basic legal structure of statelocal government relations.

Dear Reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here


To gain instant access to this article (download).

INR 59

(Readers in India)

$ 6

(Readers outside India)

Support Us

Your Support will ensure EPW’s financial viability and sustainability.

The EPW produces independent and public-spirited scholarship and analyses of contemporary affairs every week. EPW is one of the few publications that keep alive the spirit of intellectual inquiry in the Indian media.

Often described as a publication with a “social conscience,” EPW has never shied away from taking strong editorial positions. Our publication is free from political pressure, or commercial interests. Our editorial independence is our pride.

We rely on your support to continue the endeavour of highlighting the challenges faced by the disadvantaged, writings from the margins, and scholarship on the most pertinent issues that concern contemporary Indian society.

Every contribution is valuable for our future.