More representation to women in panchayats is seen as a way to empower them. But an elected woman sarpanch in Chhattisgarh’s Durg district thinks otherwise.
Though she was happy at becoming sarpanch in Mulmula village, 120 km west of Raipur, after the state reserved 50% seats for women in panchayats, Hemant Kumari (32) thought her husband was more competent than her to perform the roles and responsibilities the Constitution has mandated for her. However, she is willing to be held accountable for any lapse on her husband’s part.
With this self-imposed belief, Hemant, through special power of attorney on a non-judicial stamp (notarised) letter, authorised her husband, Ballu Ram Dewangan (36), to take official decisions on her behalf.
“I haven’t done this under pressure. With domestic responsibilities I was apprehensive about performing my official works. I am prepared to remain accountable for any irregularity committed by him,” she said. Power of attorney was to ensure the husband can wield authority in the name of the sarpanch, she said.
Villagers first objected to Ballu Ram’s intrusion into the activities of the panchayats. But soon they were shocked to learn the authorised head had “legally” delegated her authority to him.
A complaint was lodged with the panchayat department. “This is unacceptable. She has violated the Panchayati Raj Act,” panchayat and social welfare director Alok Awasthi said.
The director has asked the Durg collector to investigate. “Enquiry is in progress. And she will be ousted,” collector Thakur Ram Singh said.