Municipalities | Local Government | Indian Polity

The Municipalities are the Local self-government units in the urban areas.

Some of the provisions are similar to those present in part IX (Panchayati Raj) of the Constitution like reservation of seats, State Finance Commission and the State Election Commission.

The Municipalities are added in the Constitution through the 74th amendment act.

The Municipalities are mentioned in the 12th Schedule of the Constitution.

They are mentioned under Part IX-A of the Indian Constitution.

The Articles from 243 P to 243 ZG are related to Municipalities.

BACKGROUND:

The 1st Municipal Corporation in India was set up in the year 1687, in Madras.

In the year 1726 municipal corporations were set up in Bombay and Calcutta.

In the year 1882, the viceroy of India Lord Rippon issued a resolution of Local Self government.

Lord Rippon is called the ‘Father of Local Self Government” in India.

CONSTITUTIONAL STATUS TO MUNICIPALITIES:

Rajiv Gandhi was the first Prime Minister who made an attempt to provide the constitutional status to the Municipalities.

In the year 1989, the 65th Constitutional amendment bill (Nagar Palika bill) was introduced in Parliament.

The Nagar Palika was passed in the Lok Sabha.

But the Nagar Palika bill was rejected by the Rajya sabha in October 1989.

NOTE: These are similar incidents like that of the 64th amendment bill.

NOTE: A Constitutional amendment bill must be passed separately by both the houses of the Parliament with a special majority.

ü  Hence the Nagar Palika bill lapsed.

In the year 1991 P V Narasimha Rao became the Prime Minister of India.

In September 1991 the 74th Constitutional amendment bill was introduced in Lok Sabha.

The amendment bill was passed by both the houses of the Parliament in December 1992.

ü  Later the bill was approved by the half number of the states with a simple majority.

The bill was given consent by the President in April 1993.

NOTE: Similar to that of 73rd amendment.

74TH AMENDMENT ACT:

ü  A new part IX-A has been added.

ü  This came into force on June 6, 1993.

ü  This consists of provisions from articles 243 P to 243 ZG.

ü  The act also added the 12th schedule to the constitution.

ü  The 12th schedule consists of 18 items.

ü  It is an obligation to the states to adopt the new system of municipalities in accordance with the provisions of the 74th amendment act.

KINDLY NOTE: Most of the points related to the 73rd and 74th amendment acts are similar. Please pay attention while reading.

SALIENT FEATURES OF THE 74TH AMENDMENT ACT:

The act created 3 types of municipalities.

  • Nagar Panchayat
  • Municipal Council
  • Municipal Corporation

Article 243Q makes it obligatory for every state to constitute such units.

Nagar Panchayat is a transitional area. This is an area in transition from a rural to an urban area.

Municipal council is a smaller urban area.

A Municipal Corporation is a larger urban area.

To conduct elections at regular intervals entire municipal area is divided into wards.

The members of a municipality shall be elected directly by the people.

The legislature of a State may by law provide for representation in the municipality

With persons of special knowledge or experience in Municipal administration

Members of Lok sabha – representing the constituency of that area.

Members of Rajya Sabha – registered as an elector in the municipal area.

Members of State Assembly – representing the constituency of that area.

Members of Legislative Council – registered as an elector in the municipal area.

The chairpersons of committees other than ward committees.

RESERVATION OF SEATS:

There shall be a reservation of seats for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in every Municipality in the proportion of their population.

Out of the total number of seats to be filled by direct election at least 1/3rd seats would be reserved for women, including the number of seats reserved for the women belonging to SC and ST.

Note: 112th amendment bill with a proposal of increasing the reservation for women in Municipalities from 1/3rd to ½ at all levels is pending in the Parliament.

The reservation of backward classes may be provided by the state legislature.

The state legislature may also provide reservation of offices of the chairpersons in municipalities for the backward classes.

TERM:

The term of every municipality is 5 years.

A Municipality may be dissolved earlier according to law.

Elections to constitute a Municipality shall be completed before the expiry of the period of 5 years.

If a Municipality is dissolved earlier the elections must be conducted within 6 months of the dissolution.

A Municipality constituted after its dissolution shall continue only for the remainder of the term.

If the remaining period is less than 6 months it shall not be necessary to hold elections.

QUALIFICATIONS:

Article 243V provides that all the persons who are qualified to be chosen to the state legislature shall be qualified for being a member of a Municipality.

The persons who have attained the age of 21 years will be eligible to be a member.

Note: All the questions of disqualification shall be referred to such authority as the state legislature determines.

THE STATE ELECTION COMMISSION:

Under Article 243 K the State Election Commission is appointed.

All matters relating to the elections to the Municipalities are regulated by the state legislature by law.

Note: The State Election Commission conducts the elections to both Municipalities and Panchayats.

The State Election Commissioner is appointed by the Governor.

The State Election Commissioner is removed in the same manner like that of a High Court Judge.

POWERS, AUTHORITY, AND RESPONSIBILITIES:

According to Article 243W of the Constitution, state legislatures are provided with the power to confer on Municipalities all such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as institutions of self-government.

  • To prepare plans for economic development and social justice
  • Implementation of schemes as may be entrusted to them
  • Other matters related to the items listed in the 12th schedule of the Indian Constitution.

Financial Functions:

A state legislature may by law authorize a Municipality to levy, collect, and appropriate taxes, duties, tolls, etc.

The state legislature can also assign to a Municipality various taxes, duties, etc collected by the state government.

On the recommendation of the State Finance Commission state government gives the Grants-in-aid to the Municipalities from the Consolidated Fund of a State.

STATE FINANCE COMMISSION:

The State Finance Commission is appointed under article 243 – I of the Indian Constitution.

The State Finance Commission reviews the financial position of both Municipalities and Municipalities.

The State Finance Commission recommends the distribution of taxes, duties, tolls, and fees leviable by the state government may be divided between the state and the Municipalities.

Grants-in-aid to be given to the Municipalities.

The measures needed to improve the financial position of the Municipalities.

NOTE: The same State Finance Commission serves the purpose of both Municipalities and Panchayati Raj.

SUBJECTS IN THE 12TH SCHEDULE:

Urban planning including town planning

Regulation of land use and construction of buildings

Planning for economic and social development

Roads and bridges

Water supply for domestic, industrial and commercial purposes

Public health, sanitation, conservancy, and solid waste management

Fire services

Urban forestry, protection of environment and promotion of ecological aspects

Safeguarding the interests of weaker sections of society, including the handicapped and mentally retarded

Slum improvement and up-gradation

Urban poverty alleviation

Provision of urban amenities and facilities such as parks, gardens, playgrounds

Promotion of cultural, educational and aesthetic aspects

Burials and burial grounds, cremations and cremation grounds, and electric crematoriums

Cattle ponds, prevention of cruelty to animals

Vital statistics including registration of births and deaths

Public amenities including street lighting, parking lots, bus stops and public conveniences

Regulation of slaughterhouses and tanneries.

TYPES OF URBAN GOVERNMENTS:

THERE ARE VARIOUS TYPES OF URBAN GOVERNMENTS:

  • Municipal corporations
  • Municipalities
  • Notified area committees
  • Town area committees
  • Cantonment board
  • Township
  • Port trust
  • Special purpose agency

MUNICIPAL CORPORATION:

The Municipal Corporations are established in the states by the acts of the state legislatures.

The Municipal Corporations are established in the Union Territories through the acts of the Parliament.

Municipal Corporations are created for the administration of big cities.

The State Election Commission conducts the elections for a Municipal Corporation.

For that purpose the total area is divided into the wards.

The people in each ward elect a representative called Corporator / Councilor.

A Municipal Corporation consists of three different authorities.

  • Council
  • Standing committees
  • Municipal Commissioner

MUNICIPAL COUNCIL:

The council consists of the members directly elected by the people.

The council is the deliberative and legislative wing of the Corporation.

The council is headed by a Mayor.

The election of the Mayor is decided by the state legislature.

If it is an indirect election the Mayor is elected from among the members of the council.

The meetings of the council are presided over by the Mayor.

The Mayor is assisted by the Deputy Mayor.

STANDING COMMITTEES:

The standing committees are large in size.

They are created to facilitate the working of the council.

The standing committees take decisions in their respective fields like education, health, taxation, Public works, finance etc.

MUNICIPAL COMMISSIONER:

The Municipal Commissioner is appointed by the State Government.

The Municipal Commissioner belongs to the IAS.

The Municipal Commissioner is the chief executive authority of the Municipal Corporation.

The Municipal Commissioner is responsible for the implementation of the decisions taken by the council and the standing committees.

MUNICIPALITIES:

The Municipalities are established up by the acts of state legislatures.

The Municipalities set for the administration of small cities and towns.

For the Union Territories, the municipalities are set up by the acts of the Parliament.

The State Election Commission conducts the elections for a Municipality.

For that purpose the total area is divided into the wards.

The people in each ward elect a representative called Councilor.

A Municipality consists of three different authorities.

  • Council
  • Standing committees
  • Chief Executive Officer / Municipal Commissioner

COUNCIL:

The council consists of the members directly elected by the people.

The council is the deliberative and legislative wing of the Municipality.

The council is headed by a Chairman or President.

The election of the Chairman is decided by the state legislature.

If it is an indirect election the Chairman is elected from among the members of the council.

The meetings of the council are presided over by the Chairman.

The Mayor is assisted by the Vice-Chairman.

STANDING COMMITTEES:

The standing committees are large in size.

They are created to facilitate the working of the council.

The standing committees take decisions in their respective fields like education, health, taxation, Public works, finance, etc.

THE MUNICIPAL COMMISSIONER OR CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER:

The Municipal Commissioner is appointed by the state government.

The Municipal Commissioner is responsible for day to administration.

*****

MISCELLANEOUS:

The election of Mayor is conducted first, followed by that of Deputy Mayor.

District Collector is appointed the election officer or returning officer by the State Election Commission.

All the Corporators and the ex-Officio members including MPs, MLAs, and MLCs can vote in the election of the Mayor and the Deputy Mayor.

The nominated corporators are not permitted to vote.

But, the co-opted members cannot vote in the election of the Mayor or Deputy Mayor.

For GHMC (Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation), Andhra Pradesh the election for Mayor and Deputy Mayor was held on January 3, 2012. In all 216 members (150 corporators and 66 ex-officio members) took part in the election. The 5 nominated members are not allowed to participate in voting.

The election of Mayor is followed by the election of Deputy Mayor.

Election of Mayor and Deputy Mayor: Once the presiding officer calls for proposals, a member can propose followed by another member seconding it. If there is a single nomination the election is over. If there is more than one person contesting then there would be counting.

The parties can also issue whip to its members.  

Read this case: November 2012: A Municipal Corporator G Vanaja (INC) of Borabanda division in GHMC of Andhra Pradesh State has been disqualified for having more than 2 children. The GHMC issued a notification declaring her election invalid after the AP High Court disqualified her as per section 21 B of the GHMC Act, 2009. As per this, a person with more than 2 children after 1995 would be disqualified from election from contesting as a member.

NOVEMBER 2012: another case related to Ravi Yadav (MIM) a corporator from Langur houz in GHMC is also pending before the High Court for the same reason. Initially, his election was declared as void by an election tribunal in November 2011 by the chief judge cum election tribunal of city civil courts M Seetarama Murthy for suppressing the facts. The court stated that Uday Kumar (BJP) who secured the second-highest votes be declared as elected from ward number 69 (Lungar Houz). The GHMC Commissioner referred the case to SEC and Ravi Yadav moved High Court and is pending with the court. The HC granted an interim suspension of the operation and effect of the order passed by the election tribunal.

2011 Bombay: the Bombay High Court thrown out a Pune man’s plea seeking an exception to the 2 child norm for civic poll contestants on the ground that one of his 3 children is disabled (Visually challenged). Justice Sharad Bobde opinioned that this would result in discrimination. The person who approached the court was Suresh shirude an independent aspirant for the February 2012 civic polls. The 2 child norm was decided by the SC in 2003. The council of Suresh shirude. Birendra Saraf argued that the law treats unlikes as same and thus is discriminatory. 

On July 30, 2003: A 3 judge bench of the SC (Justice RC Lahoti, Justice Ashok Bhan and justice Arun Kumar) observed that disqualification on the right to contest for having more than 2 living children does not contravene any fundamental right nor does it cross limits of reasonability. The SC endorsed that this law as a ‘Disqualification conceptually devised in the national interest’.

2 CHILD NORM A REPORT OF 2012: a study was conducted by surat based Center for Social Studies (CSS). The CSS is an autonomous social science research institute supported by the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) and Government of Gujarat. According to the study, only 6.09 % of elected representatives of PRIs have 2 or less than 2 children. Remaining 93.91 % have more than 2 children.