Formation of Panchayats
During the Mughal period, the village panchayat was an assembly of the elders of the village. Often they were important people of the village and those who had their own property. In the villages where people of different castes lived, diversity was also found in the Panchayat. It was an oligarchy in which different communities and castes of the village got representation. Everyone in the village had to agree to the formation of the Panchayat.
Head of the Panchayat
The head of the Panchayat was called “Mukadam” or Mandal. It appears from some sources that the headman was elected by consensus of the elders of the village. After the election, they had to take its approval from the landlord. The headman remained in office only as long as the elders of the village had confidence in him. If there was no trust, the elders could have removed him. The chief’s main task was to get the accounts of the income and expenditure of the village prepared under his supervision. The patwari of the panchayat used to help him in this work.
Common Treasury of the Panchayati Raj
The expenditure of the panchayat was run from a common treasury of the village in which every person contributed his share.
- The expenditure for the hospitality of the officials who visited the village from time to time was also done from this treasury.
- This fund was also used to deal with natural calamities like flood.
- This fund also used to spend for such community works which the farmers themselves could not do, such as building small earthen dams or digging canals.
Regulation of Rural Society (Powers and Functions)
One of the major functions of the Panchayati Raj was to see that the people of all the communities living in the village lived within the boundaries of their caste. All marriages in Eastern India were performed in the presence of Mandal. An important responsibility of the village headman was to keep a watch on the conduct of the people to prevent caste defiance.
The Panchayats had powers like imposing fines and expelling any guilty from the community. Exclusion from the community was a drastic measure that was implemented for a limited time. Under this the punished person had to leave the village for a given period of time. During this he used to lose his caste and profession. The purpose of such policies was to prevent the defiance of caste customs.