Part 6: Local Governments

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Article 6.1 Local Jurisdictions
Local jurisdictions are generic whereas higher level jurisdictions are often a product of mergers or acquisition through wars. Traditionally, local jurisdictions were such that most people had social and cultural ties and could traverse the jurisdiction on horseback in a day or two. They also often constitute a small watershed and are environmentally self-reliant.
 
The highest level of local government consisting of towns and villages is called district or suba in India, county in many western countries and municipality or such other names in others. When a town becomes large, it becomes a city government independent of the district government.
 
A local government is often further sub-divided into sub-local and grassroots governments for taking governance closer to the people. A district in India often divided as large sized tahsils or taluks, shall be divided as janpad sub-district governments of the scale of community development blocks coordinating village governments. A large village or a cluster of small villages constitutes the grassroots government. Traditional jurisdictions of panchayats should be respected and not forced to form larger units based on norms. City governments can be divided into sub-city and neighbourhood governments. Non residential areas such as commercial and industrial centres can function as sub-city governments.
 
Article 6.11 Forced absorption in cities
When cities expanded in India, they forcibly took control over neighbouring villages and small towns. Forced destruction of identity of local communities is undemocratic. City government shall negotiate with the village or town communities who may choose to retain their identity as it is, or as a self governing unit within the city or become a part of the city. Local entities, especially heritage towns, forcibly absorbed in cities in the past, can approach the concerned sovereign rights commission for re-establishing their identities.
 
Article 6.2 Village Governments
Village governments and urban neighbourhoods are the most important units in democratic governance since, being at the grassroots level, the general assembly consisting of all adult men and women is the supreme authority. They thus function as direct democracy while governments at all other levels are mere representative democracy. Since village governments control most environmental resources such as land, water systems, forests and minerals, they are pivotal since urban centres too are dependent upon them for water and other urban needs.
 
Gandhi conceptualised democracy as a series of concentric governments with the village at the centre. It conveys that higher level governments assist and coordinate but do not impose or interfere in village matters. Aurobindo Ghosh has, in his writings, repeatedly drawn attention to and praised this concept.
 
Article 6.21 Village Parliament (gram sabha)
The village parliament consisting of all adult men and women, that is, registered voters in the jurisdiction shall be the supreme authority controlling all village resources and decision-making. All meetings of the village parliament will be in open assembly in which outsiders can sit as observers. It will control all village resources and decision-making. All environmental resources including land, water systems, forests, minerals, and financial resources including taxes, levies and charges, except those devolved to higher level governments, shall be under the control of village governments.
 
Forests, presently classified as forests reserved or protected for management by state governments based on colonial practises, and all other types of forests and wastelands appurtenant to the village shall stand restored to village parliaments for scientific management and meeting social needs.
 
The village parliament shall have power to make laws and rules that promote values. For example, a village parliament can legislate that no one can drink liquor and/or appear drunk on streets, and if any one indulged in it, the women of the village would give him appropriate punishment as per traditional practice. Such a regulation would be an effective method of dealing with a social ill having serious impact on family welfare. The district and sub district councils of stakeholders will promote such problem solving.
 
Article 6.22 Village Council (gram panchayat)
The village parliament will elect on year to year basis by secret ballot, a sarpanch and panchs usually five but not necessarily, for handling day to day work. It can remove them any time for misconduct through simple majority vote in open assembly and elect another. The secretary to the village government will be the returning officer for the conduct of elections.
 
All meetings of the village parliament will be in open assembly chaired by the sarpanch. Outsiders can sit in as observers. The village parliament may also empower the gram panchayat or elect another body to function as the village court and decide civil and criminal cases in its jurisdiction in accordance with the guidelines issued by the chief district judge.
 
Article 6.23 Village governance
The villages shall be governed through a village manual drafted by the sovereign rights commission after consultations and approved through referendum. The manual will provide for rules of business, appointment by the village government of village officials such as village secretary, village land officer, village chief of police, village chief forester, village chief engineer, village head teacher, and village chief medical officer. It will also provide for empaneling consultants such as architect-planners, lawyers and medical specialists. All appointments and termination will require the approval of the village parliament. The village officials will be under the administrative control of the village government and professional coordination of the concerned departmental head of the district government.
 
Article 6.3 District and City Governments
Districts and cities shall constitute the highest level of local governance. Each district/city shall have a district/city parliament consisting of two houses, a district/city assembly and a district/city council of stakeholders. It will have elected district/city governor and deputy governor and a head of district judiciary called chief district/city judge. The district/city bureaucracy will be locally accountable. The district headquarters shall henceforth be called district capitals.
 
Article 6.31 Control over Resources and Functions
The district/city government will control adequate resources to handle all local matters such as administration of justice, police, education, health-care, land, water systems, forests and minerals. It will be accountable to the people of the district/city through effective transparency laws covering the sovereign rights of the people to information, consultation, participation and referendum.
 
The district/city governments will ordinarily not be dependent upon the state or national governments for support. All environmental and financial resources shall be deemed to belong to local governments. Based on the principles laid down in Part 7 of the Constitution dealing with Resource Management, a part of the revenue from identified environmental resources and some sources of taxation and/or share in tax revenue shall be assigned to state and national governments. This is to enable them to provide (1) higher level infrastructure, (2) support to regions with inadequate resources, and (3) coordination, but not interfere in local jurisdictions.
 
Article 6.32 District/City Parliament
The district/city parliament (zila sansad) shall consist of district/city assembly (zila sabha) and a district/city council of stakeholders (zila parishad). The district/city assembly shall consist of members elected from constituencies as delineated from time to time. It shall have a fixed term of four years. It will have legislative powers on all matters other than those exclusively assigned to state and national parliaments under Schedule A. It will approve the budget, and, through its committees, perform various watchdog functions in relation to the executive.
 
Article 6.33 District/City Council of Stakeholders
The district/city council (zila parishad) shall be a permanent body moderating decision-making for sustainability. It will have representatives of various interest groups such as disadvantaged communities, farmers, labour unions, industry, women, professionals and NGOs, nominated by their representative organisations through an appropriate selection process. One-third of its members will retire every year, and new members from the same category renominated. The deputy district/city governor shall be the president of the council and shall preside over its meeting.
 
Each State Sovereign Rights Commissions shall, through a consultative process, determine the interest groups in a jurisdiction, the number of seats that shall be assigned to each and how the persons shall be nominated by the interest groups. It shall also determine which one-third shall retire every year. It shall give effect to the arrangement thus determined, and get it ratified by the people through referendum held along with the following election.
 
The district/city council will constitute committees for resolving social, environmental, economic and political conflicts. It will have the power to commission consultants to review social and environmental projects and programmes and return any bill or project proposal to the elected house for reconsideration or with suggestions for modification. If after reconsideration, the elected house approves the bill or project with or without modification, it will become effective.
 
Article 6.34 Elected Chief Executive and his Deputy
The district/city chief executives called district/city governor (zila/nagar pal) assisted by deputy district/city governor (up zila/nagar pal) shall be elected as a team through direct election.
 
Article 6.35 Political Appointments
The elected chief executive may make political appointments of ministers, total not exceeding 10, who shall not be legislators, for assisting him in his work. All such appointments shall require approval by a joint committee of the district/city assembly and council. If the proposal is rejected, the chief executive shall have to propose another person. Such appointments will terminate on expiry of the term of the chief executive unless he gets reelected.
 
Article 6.36 District and city courts
Every district and city shall have a district/city court. The local appointments authority for independent functionaries shall select the chief and other judges. A joint committee of the concerned assembly and council shall approve their appointment. They shall draw budget from the district/city government and will be impeachable by the district/city parliament. They will thus be accountable to the people of the district/city. For details see Part 8: Judicial System.
 
Article 6.37 Departmental Heads
The appointment of all departmental heads including chief land manager, police chief, public prosecutor, forest chief and/or secretaries to government shall require the approval by a joint committee of the district/city assembly and council as articulated in Part 10 on "Appointed servants of the people". The departmental heads will control the appointment, transfer and discipline of their subordinates, thus protecting them from political pressures and abuse. Such professional autonomy, along with effective transparency mechanisms, will ensure that the bureaucracy is directly accountable to the people.
 
Article 6.38 Watchdog functions
The two houses will perform watchdog functions over the executive through their various committees. The committees will have the power to call for any information from the political ministers and professional departmental heads and also direct them to appear for personal hearings. The report and recommendations of the committees shall be made public.
 
Article 6.4 District Planning
The village government will, with the assistance of planning consultants appointed by the district government, prepare draft village plans covering socioeconomic, infrastructure and environmental resources expressed in analytical, quantitative and spatial plans, that is scientific regional planning. The district government will arrange availability of satellite imagery maps to facilitate such planning. The plans will provide, amongst other things, for social development, infrastructure and scientific management of the environmental resources. The village plans will be consolidated and coordinated as draft subdistricts and draft district plans, and finally consolidated and coordinated with state level infrastructure and approved by the state government as part of the state plans.
 
Article 6.5 Sub-District Government
The present system of tahsils or taluks for revenue administration and community development blocks for development administration is irrational, wasteful and counterproductive. Subdistricts governments handling both administration and development, as link between village and town governments with the district government will be established at tahsil/taluk and block headquarters after rationalisation to suit the local situation and approved through district referendum.
 
Article 6.51: Large City Governments
Large cities can have city governments independent of a district government. They shall coordinate with district governments through the planning processes.
 
Article 6.52 Sub-city and Neighbourhood Governments
If the residents of a sub-town or a neighbourhood want it to be declared as a self-governing unit, they can, through resolution, apply to the city government for recognition. Upon such recognition, the sub-town or neighbourhood will be entitled to share in the property tax up to fifty per cent for managing specified internal services. If the city government fails to grant recognition within a reasonable time, the residents can approach the sovereign rights commission for directing referendum on it.

Article 6.53 Metropolitan Governance
Cities with population exceeding 30 lakhs or so shall have metropolitan governments handling metropolitan level infrastructure. They will be delineated into appropriate number of municipalities with population not exceeding 10 lakhs or so, each further subdivided into sub-towns and neighbourhoods handling functions that they can best handle.
 
Article 6.54 National capital
The national capital has today the most complex system of governance. The central, state and local governments assisted by numerous authorities are all involved in governing it. Such multiplicity of authorities has led to wasteful expenditure, slowing down of decision-making and harassment to citizens. Those who break the law can find their way out through the mutually conflicting maze of authorities. Such centralised governance, designed for colonial rule, is counterproductive in democracy.
 
With effect from the coming into force of this Constitution, the national government shall have no jurisdiction over the National Capital Territory. Delhi will be restored its true name Dilli. The Government of Dilli, headed by an elected state governor, will handle metropolitan level infrastructure such as electricity supply, water supply, sewerage, state level roads and bus services. All zonal offices of Municipal Corporation Delhi, New Delhi Municipal Committee and the Cantonment Board shall be upgraded as independent municipalities, each headed by an elected nagarpal or city governor and the rural areas made into self-governing village panchayats, each controlling its land and services.
 
Each municipality may be further delineated as self-governing sub-towns (upnagar) for non-housing areas and neighbourhoods (mohalla) for residential areas as desired by citizens. The entire governance structure shall be developed by the Dilli State Sovereign Rights Commission based on consultations with the people of Dilli, and got approved by them through referendum.
 
Note: Delhi has become an overgrown congested and polluted commercial centre with heavy stress on services especially water supply and electricity. The people of India may consider relocating the national capital to a central location, possibly near Wardha the capital of the freedom struggle through referendum. The disinvestment of national government properties in Delhi will finance the development of the new capital designed on human scale and leave some surplus. The prevailing abuse of river Jamuna, heritage sites and colonial properties, especially housing, will also get resolved. The Rashtrapati Bhawan can be converted into a Museum of Imperial Arrogance and the Parliament building the Museum of National Blunders! In the new capital, only one house for the chief executive, properly designed to human scale, may be provided. Other state functionaries shall live in own or rented accommodation like other citizens.
 
Article 6.6 Heritage Sites
National cultural and natural heritage sites including national parks and sanctuaries, howsoever important, falling exclusively within a district or city shall be under the management of the district or city government. Those falling in two or more districts/cities but within a state shall be under the state government, and those falling in two or more states shall be under the national government.
 
Article 6.7 Creating new states
Some proposals for creating new states are presently under consideration. This demand is primarily because state governments are controlling local governance. Once autonomous local jurisdictions are established, people may prefer no or minimal change in state jurisdictions. In view of this, no changes shall be made in state jurisdictions during 10 years of the promulgation of this Constitution.

Article 6.8 Inculcating local societal values
Urban neighbourhood and village governments shall discourage glorifying attitudes such as imbibing alcohol, smoking, accumulating material goods and indulging in ostentatious consumption, and social ills such as dowry and social discrimination. They should nurture societal values such as healthy sports and other activities, good reading, austere habits, self-reliance, personal discipline, philanthropy, creativity, respecting all life forms, shunning non-vegetarian food and cruelty to animals, self enquiry and, above all spirituality.
 
Non-vegetarian foods shall not be served in any government function or in non-commercial organisations, such as cultural clubs. Further, the law shall require that commercial organisations, such as hotels and restaurants, do their pricing such that the average price of non-vegetarian dishes is at least thrice than that of vegetarian dishes. Prevailing practises such as pricing banquetting at same rate irrespective of whether vegetarian or non-vegetarian food is served, shall be illegal.
 
The grassroots parliaments, that is village or urban neighbourhood, may relax or make more stringent, within their jurisdiction regulations on social issues such as those pertaining to partaking non-vegetarian food and alcohol, and prescribe appropriate penalty for violations. Issues such as imposing prohibition will be in the jurisdiction of local and not state parliaments.

Article 6.9 Local governance manual
The state sovereign rights commissions shall, after consultations, prepare model governance manuals for village, town, district, city and metropolitan governments for their states and get them approved through referendum. If people of any local entity want local variations to suit their needs, they can approach the sovereign rights commission for organising referendum on it.

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