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Goa has a unique history of institutions of local self government dating back to ancient times. Descendents of ancient settlers of the villages, called Gaunkars, organized themselves into “Communidades” or “Communities” which functioned as autonomous unit of village administration. The Government was vested in the assembly of elders of each clan or Vangor. Members of Communidades consisted of (i) Zoneiros(ii) Acsaocars (iii) Gaonkars. The primary activity of the Communidades was leasing out their commonly held agricultural land, orchards, ponds, through auction. The income was utilized to fund common services for the village like those of priests, barbers, construction and maintenance of markets, halls, etc. This village governance was allowed to exist alongside the Portuguese administrative machinery.
The second form of local Government prior to liberation in Goa were the Camara Municipals, introduced by the Portuguese, having their jurisdiction over both urban and rural areas of the entire taluka. They collected various taxes and received government grants, performed civil functions including the construction of building. Until a few years before liberation, these self-sustaining bodies were neither elective nor local. Their offices were reserved for ‘Casados’.
It was only in 1959 that Juntas de Freguesias (rural self government bodies) were established by the Portuguese through the Portaria (Notification) No. 7575 of 23rd July, 1959, assigning them the responsibilities of repairs of village roads, drains, bridges, gutters, street lights, within their jurisdiction. This was the third self-governing unit that existed prior to the liberation of Goa. Thus prior to liberation, there were Panchayats in the villages but they were not codified and the people used to settle their grievances themselves rather approaching the Government authorities. There used to be Regular (village headman) in each village who was entrusted with some of the functions which are now exercised by the Village Panchayats.
GOA DAMAN & DIU VILLAGE PANCHAYAT REGULATION, 1962
Goa alongwith Daman & Diu was liberated on 19.12.1961 from Portuguese rule. After liberation, the President, of India promulgated the Goa Daman & Diu Village Panchayat Regulation, 1962 under Article-240 of the Constitution of India. The said Regulation provided for setting up of a single tier Panchayati Raj system in the Union Territory of Goa Daman & Diu. Thus, for the first time, the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) came into existence in the Union Territory of Goa, Daman & Diu in the year 1962. As per the said Regulation, one seat was reserved for women in every Panchayat. There were three types of Panchayats having 5, 7 and 9 members depending upon the population. The term of the Panchayat was for four years. The Panchayati Raj (PR) system was functioning very well since its inception and elections were held regularly in Goa. However, in most of the States in India, the PR system which started in 1959, had totally collapsed. There was no uniformity in the PR system throughout India Elections to PRIs were not held regularly and in some States elections were not held for more than 30 years. Therefore, steps were taken to amend the Constitution and for that purpose the Constitutional (73rd Amendment) Act was passed on 20th April, 1993, to lay a strong foundation for ‘Democratic Decentralization’ and pave the way for activating the planning process from the grassroots; a concept which has eluded the people ever since the beginning of the era of planned development.
THE GOA PANCHAYAT RAJ ORDINANCE 1994
In terms of Article 243-N of the Constitution of India, every State was required to amend the laws relating to PRIs within one year of the 73rd Constitutional Amendment. Therefore, to comply with the said mandatory provision of the Constitution and as the assembly was not in session, the State of Goa promulgating an Ordinance namely, The Goa Panchayat Raj Ordinance, 1994 on 20.04.1994. The Ordinance namely, The Goa Panchayat Raj Ordinance, 1994 on 20.04.1994. The Ordinance was converted into Bill, namely the Goa Panchayat Raj Bill, 1994 and the same was introduced in the Goa Legislative Assembly on 25.05.1994.
THE GOA PANCHAYAT RAJ ACT, 1994
The Goa Panchayat Raj Act, 1994 was assented to by the Governor of Goa on 09.07.1994. The Act repealed the Ordinance of 1994 as well as the Regulation of 1962. Some of the provisions of the Act were brought into force w.e.f. 20.08.1994. However, Section 245 was given retrospective effect i.e. from 20.04.1994. The remaining provisions of the Act were brought into force w.e.f. 26.10.1995. Thus, the entire Act came into force from 26.10.1995.
PREAMBLE TO THE GOA PANCHAYAT RAJ ACT, 1994
“An Enactment to establish a two-tier Panchayati Raj System in the State with elected bodies at Village and Districe levels , in keeping with the Constitutional Amendment relating to Panchayats for greater participation of the people and more effective implementation of rural development programmes”.