BANGALORE: A high-powered committee headed by former Speaker K R Rameshkumar has reportedly favoured a three-member State Election Commission (SEC).
The SEC is entrusted to hold elections to urban and rural local bodies (panchayat bodies) in the state.
According to sources, the committee, formed to suggest amendments to the Panchayat Raj Act, is learnt to have recommended that the state government should give greater responsibilities to the SEC.
The committee has advocated the need to delegate more powers to the SEC, including the powers to determine caste and gender reservation and rotation of seats in gram panchayats.
The committee also recommended empowering the SEC to determine the reservation for the posts of presidents and vice presidents of panchayat bodies.
Currently, the deputy commissioner of the district decides on reservation in gram panchayats while the SEC is empowered to determine the reservation for seats in taluk and zilla panchayats.
The SEC, a constitutional body, was established in the state after the 73rd and 74th amendments to the Constitution in 1993, with the objectives of superintendence, direction and control of the preparation of electoral roll and to conduct all elections to both urban and rural local bodies.
The 21-member committee has toured the state extensively and gathered opinions from cross sections of the society. It also toured the neighbouring Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala to study the functioning of the Panchayat bodies there.
The committee has also suggested conferring greater financial powers, including levying of taxes and deciding on permissions for extraction of minor minerals to panchayat bodies.
The panchayats should also have a say in giving permits to open liquor outlets, the committee has suggested. The expert committee has also favoured reconstituting gram panchayats with a minimum population of 18,000 with an exception to Malnad region where the density of population is comparatively low.
Rameshkumar, however, refused to divulge the contents of the report, which is yet to be submitted to the state government. The committee, which was expected to submit its report on October 2, postponed it by a couple of weeks.
■ SEC should decide on reservation for the posts of presidents and vice presidents of local bodies
■ Local bodies should have a say in giving permits to liquor outlets and extraction of minor minerals
■ Reorganisation of gram panchayats with a minimum population of 18,000