The word "Panchayat" literally means "assembly" (ayat) of five (panch) wise and respected elders chosen and accepted by the local community. Indian government has decentralized several administrative functions to the local level, empowering elected gram panchayats. Panchayat Raj is a system of governance in which gram panchayats are the basic units of administration. It has 3 levels: Gram (village), Block and Zilla (district). Karnataka state has constituted a body called Zilla Panchayat under the Karnataka Panchayat Raj Act,1993. The Zilla Panchayat is entrusted with execution of development schemes, providing civic functions in rural areas and looking after the duties of the government delegated in respect of certain department as per the schedule.
The Zilla Panchayat structure and activities may be broadly categorized as listed below,
Uttara Kannada Zilla Panchayat is an elected body which constitues President and Vice-President. The elected members are determined under Section 160. The members of the House of People and the members of the State Legislative Assembly representing a part or whole of the district whose constituencies lie within the district. The members of the Council of State and the members of the State Legislative Council who are registered as electors within the district. The Adyakshas of Taluk Panchayats in the district. There are 1- District Minister, 6 - M.L.A’s , 3 - M.L.C’s, 1 - M.P, 36 - Zilla Panchayat members, 128 - Taluk Panchayat Members, 2622 - Gram Panchayat members in Uttar Kannada district.
The Adhyaksha shall be the executive head of the Zilla Panchayat and shall Convene, Preside at and conduct meetings of the Zilla Panchayats. Discharge all duties imposed and exercise all the powers conferred on him by or under this Act perform such functions entrusted to him by the Government from time to time. Exercise overall supervision over the financial and executive administration of the Zilla Panchayat and place before the Zilla Panchayat all questions connected therewith which shall appear to him to require his orders and for this purpose may call for records of the Zilla Panchayat and have power to accord sanction up to a total sum of rupees one lakh in a year for the purpose of providing immediate relief to those who are affected by natural calamities in the district.
The Upadhyaksha of the Zilla Panchayat shall exercise the powers and perform the functions of the Adhyaksha when he is absent on leave or incapacitated from functioning or when the office of Adhyaksha is vacant and in the absence of the Adhyaksha or when the office of the Adhyaksha is vacant, preside over the meeting of the Zilla Panchayat.
Zilla Panchayat shall perform the functions specified in Schedule III : Provided that where the State Government or Central Government provide funds for the performance of any function specified in Schedule III, the Zilla Panchayat shall perform such functions in accordance with the guidelines or norms laid down for performance of such function.
Not withstanding anything contained in sub-section (1) or schedule III, it shall be obligatory on the part of the Zilla Panchayat so far as the Zilla Panchayat fund at its disposal will allow, to make reasonable provisions within the area under its jurisdiction, in respect of the following matters, namely: