Hyderabad: To ensure transparency and avoid misuse of funds, the Telangana government amended the Panchayat Raj Act to assign joint cheque powers to gram panchayats, Sarpanches and Panchayat Secretaries for spending the funds sanctioned.
Earlier, the High Court found fault with the government assigning joint cheque powers and suspended the orders as it was in contrast with the Panchayat Raj Act, which empowered only Sarpanches to exercise cheque power.
In its order issued on Friday, the government amended Rule 40 of the Telangana Panchayat Raj Act, 1994 stating that “since the government appointed executive authority to all gram panchayats by appointing the Panchayat Secretary, it is decided that the cheques shall be signed jointly by the Sarpanch and Panchayat Secretary of the Gram Panchayat for withdrawal of all scheme funds as well as Gram Panchayat funds”.
This means all scheme and Gram Panchayat funds shall be jointly operated by the Sarpanch with the joint signature of Panchayat Secretary.
Though the government issued orders assigning joint cheque powers to Sarpanches along with Panchayat Secretaries in 2014, the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad suspended the orders. It said Rule 40 empowered only Sarpanches to exercise cheque power and the order was in contrast with these rules. After obtaining legal opinion, the government decided to amend the Panchayat Raj Act in this regard.
Hereon, the cheques will be issued by Sarpanches and counter-signed by Panchayat Secretaries. The government took the decision after observing that most gram panchayats were not utilising the grants received from the government, while some were misusing funds and neglecting developmental activities.
The latest orders are aimed at strengthening flow of funds, booking of authorised expenditure, furnishing of utilisation certificates and progress reports besides ensuring transparency and accountability in all financial transactions of gram panchayats.