Friday, August 7, 2009

Panchayat Raj bill gets assent from Goa govt

The blackest hour in Goa's panchayati raj  came to pass when the ruling benches of the Goa legislative assembly decided on Thursday 6th August 2009 to pass the controversial Goa Panchayat Raj Amendment Bill 2009 as the opposition indulged in a cosmetic exercise of protesting the move by staging a theatrical walk-out with its leader Mr Manohar Parrikar merely shouting that the BJP would not be a party to the bill.

The controversial amendment to the panchayat raj bill seeks to give powers to the bureaucracy instead of the elected represGoa assembly - panchayat raj amendmententatives of the people and threatens to seriously undermine the will of the people in Goa.

The  Bill seeks to amend the section 47 of the Panchayat raj act so as to empower the panchayat secretary to execute the orders passed by the block development officer, director and deputy director of panchayats, state election commissioner and the government. The Goa opposition leader had earlier sought clarifications on which authority the Panchayat secretary was expected to answer and termed the powers granted to him as contradictory which would put the official in a tight spot with regards to whose directions to follow.

The panchayat secretary would not know whose directions to follow when there was the panchayat body, the director of panchayats and the government and Parrikar had merely suggested an additional clause to clarify the secretary's powers and roles.

The bill which was therefore amended on wednesday was duly passed by a voice vote on Thursday. The amended bill in its current form implies that if the panchayat fails to implement any orders passed by any authority in an appeal filed before it by citizens or others under the Goa panchayat raj rules within the specified time period, the secretary of the panchayat will execute them in future. In case the higher authorities have not specified a time limit in the order in connection with the appeal, then the secretary will enforce it within a month from the issuance of the order or the directions.

The draconian legislation now awaits the nod of the governor before being drafted as a law.

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