The institutional framework of PR. was laid down by Balwant Rai Mehta Committee. It suggested a three-tier scheme with Panchayats at the base, Panchayat Samitis at the intermediate tier and Zila Parishad at the apex.
1. The Panchayat:
The village constitutes the lowest tier of the PR. The Panchayat at this level should be directly elected institution with provision for the cooptation of two women members and one member each from the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. The panchayats should undertake two kinds of functions – first, relating to civic amenities like providing for water supply for domestic use, sanitation, maintaining of public streets, drains, tanks, lighting of village streets, land management, maintaining records relating to cattle, maintaining of Panchayat roads, supervising primary schools and second, relating to development in which it will act as the agent of Panchayat Samiti in executing any scheme of development of other activities.
2. The Panchayat Samiti:
The report suggested that the Panchayat Samiti which would be the most important unit in the three-tier structure will be indirectly elected by the village panchayat together with two women members and one member each from scheduled caste and scheduled tribe as coopted member.
The primary function of the Panchayat Samiti would be as follows:
(i) To deal with the development activities as Panchayats are not sufficient for the purpose.
(ii) To act as an agent of the state government to execute special schemes of development.
(iii) To play a supervisory role in relation to panchayats, looking after their development roles in approving their budgets.
3. The Zila Parishad:
The third tier of the scheme is the Zila Parishad. The report suggested that it should consist of the Parishad of the Panchayat Samitis, MLAs and MPs representing the areas and the district level officers. The collector would be the Chairman. The important functions of the Zila Parishad would be:-
(i) To examine and approve the budgets of the Panchayat Samitis.
(ii) To distribute funds between various blocks.
(iii) To coordinate and consolidate block plans.
(iv) To supervise generally the activities of Panchayat Samitis.