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Right from the Vedic Ages to modern times there have been references to Panchayats and they have played a vital role in the local Self-Governing Institutions. Mahatma Gandhi's dream that every village should be a republic having powers of self-governance has been adopted in Article 40 of the Constitution of India as a Directive Principle of State Policy. It provides that "State shall take steps to organize Village Panchayats and endow them with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as units of self government."

For this purpose, the programme of Community Development through people's participation and state aid was introduced on 2nd October 1952. On the basis of Shri Balwant Rai Mehta committee in 1959 the concept of democratic decentralization was adopted and a three tier system of Panchayats was introduced. In course of time the Panchayati Raj Institution and also the urban local bodies, started failing in the responsibilities devolved on them, owing to the paucity of funds and delay in the conduct of timely election to such bodies. Different Committees recommended that constitutional status should be accorded to Panchayati Raj and Local Bodies institutions and the election to these institutions be conducted by separate Election Commission. Consequently, 73rd and 74th amendments came into effect in the year 1993.

By these two amendments, the Constitution of India conferred constitutional status to these institutions of local self government both in the rural and urban areas. Now, regular elections to these Institutions after five years are ensured under State Election Commissions through the provisions of Articles 243E and 243U of the Constitution.

After the formation of the State of Uttarakhand on 9th November, 2000, the State Election Commission, Uttarakhand was constituted on 30th July, 2001 under the provision of Article 243 K of the Constitution of India. Under the provisions of Article 243-K and 243 ZA of the Constitution of India and other relevant acts and rules the election of Panchayatas and Urban Local Bodies in Uttarakhand are conducted under the superintendence, direction and control of State Election Commission, Uttarakhand.

The functioning of the Panchayati Raj Institutions in the State is governed by the Uttarakhand Panchayati Raj Act 2016 and Uttarakhand Panchayati Raj(amendment) Act 2019. According to section 14 ,59 and 96 of the above Act the superintendence, direction and control to conduct the election to the office of a Pradhan, Up-Pradhan and  member of Gram Panchayats, of a Pramukh, Up-Pramukh and a Member of Kshetra Panchayats, Adhyaksha, Upadhyaksha and a Member of Zila Panchayat vests in the State Election Commission.

Like rural local bodies, the Urban Local Bodies in the State are governed by two separate Acts, one governing the Municipalities including Nagar Panchayats and the other for Municipal Corporations. According to Section 13-B of the U.P.Municipalities Act, 1916 (As adopted & Amended in Uttarakhand) and section 45 of the U.P.Municipal Corporation Adhiniyam 1959(As adopted & Amended in Uttarakhand), the superintendence, direction and control of the conduct of the election to the Municipalities and elections of the Nagar Pramukh, Up-nagar Pramukh and councillor of the Corporation vest in the State Election Commission.

The electoral rolls are prepared according to the rules prepared under the provisions of related Acts and the guidelines & instructions given by the State Election Commission. There are specific provisions to this effect under sections 9,14(2),14(3)and54(1) of the Uttarakhand Panchayati Raj Act 2016 and Uttarakhand Panchayati Raj(amendment) Act 2019.

Likewise section 12 & 13 of the Municipalities Act, 1916 (As adopted & Amended in Uttarakhand) deal with the preparation of Election rolls & elections of the members of Municipalities respectively. The section 43 of the Act deal with the election of Chairperson of the Municipalities respectively while section 35 & 40 of the U.P.Municipal Corporation Adhiniyam 1959(As adopted & Amended in Uttarakhand) deals with the preparation of electoral rolls of the Municipal Corporation and section 11A, 12 & 27 of the aforsaid Act provide for the elections of Nagar Pramukh, Up-Nagar Pramukh and Sabhasad of the Municipal Corporation.

 The first General Elections of Urban Local Bodies were conducted by State Election Commission, Uttarakhand in 2003 in all 13 Districts of the State.Thereafter further elections to the ULBs was conducted by SEC in the years 2008 and 2013.The last election to 84 ULBs was conducted in October-November 2018 in which 15,55,257 voters exercised their franchise with the voting percentage being 66.67%.Elections to ULBs of Bazpur,Srinagar and Roorkee were held in 2019.At present Uttarakhand has 8 Municipal Corporations,43 Nagar Palika Parishads and 41 Nagar Panchayats.

The first General Elections to the three-tier PRIs were held in 2003 in 12 districts in the State(excluding district Haridwar which were held in 2005). Further elections to the PRI’s was conducted by SEC in the years 2008 and 2014.The last General Elections were held in 2019 for 55572 Gram Panchayat Members,7485 Pradhans,2984 BDC members and 356 Zila Panchayat members.In these elections a total of 30,06,378 voters exercised their voting rights with the voting percentage being 69.59%.Currently Uttarakhand State has 13 Zila Panchatats,95 Blocks and 7485 Gram Panchayats.

 As of now the election results of both ULBs and PRIs are available on a real time basis on the State Election Commission website and also by a mobile app for android phones developed for the purpose by NIC Uttarakhand.Uttarakhand Panchayati Raj(amendment) Act 2019 introduced in July 2019 has many novel provisions like setting educational qualifications, High School/ Matric pass for General category candidate & Middle/Eighth pass for women & reserve category candidate  as a pre-requisite for candidates aspiring for all positions in the three tier Panchayati Raj set-up and also debarring all such candidates from contesting PRI elections if they have more than two living children.

            Over the years the State Election Commission,Uttarakhand has strived to conduct free ,fair and transparent elections thus upholding the mandate given to it by the Constitution of India.

 

 

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