This concept of municipal governance in India is not a modern concept, it was quite developed in medieval times, in 1666 first municipal body came into force that was Madras Municipal Corporation in 1726 Bombay Municipal and Calcutta Municipal Corporation were founded. Before the 74th amendment of the constitution, system of municipal bodies was not defined. In 1992 74th amendment to the constitution was passed and part XI A was added under which articles 243P to 243ZG were added, this part dealt with the formation and powers of the municipal bodies.
Members of the municipal bodies are elected by the residents of that area, areas are divided according to their population known as wards, for every ward there is one representative. Ward is the territorial constituency of the member and Members are duty-bound to represent the interest of their ward. Beside the election method, a person possessing special knowledge about municipal administration can also be made member, but such member will not have right to vote in the municipal assemblies. To decide the manner of election of the municipal members is left up to the state under Article 243R.
Municipal bodies are of three types as provided in Article 243Q of the constitution,
- Nagar Panchayat
- Municipal Council
- Municipal Corporation
Nagar panchayats are municipal bodies for areas which are under transitional stage i.e. transitioning from rural to urban; a governor of the state has power vested in him to declare such area by public notice. Such area is declared on the population of that area, people engaged in non-agricultural activities and per cent of revenue generated for local bodies. There has to be at least 10 elected members and 3 nominated members which are elected for a term of 5 years, by the system of universal adult franchise. Chairman is the executive head of the body having power to authorize actions and pass orders under his jurisdiction.
Revenue is generated by the tax on water, pilgrimage tax, market and transport services. Grant is also received from state government depending on the project they are engaged in.
Municipal council is the municipal body for small urban areas, these administrate a city of population 1,00,000 to 10,00,000. In general municipal council is for bigger urban areas election process is similar here to that of nagar panchayat but in addition to that officers like engineer, sanitary inspector, health officer and educational officer are also there who come from state services and are not elected or nominated they are employees of state government who serve till retirement.
Municipal Corporation or Mahanagar Parishad is a state government formed department. It is responsible for development and maintenance of metropolitan cities or areas having population of more than 10,00,000. Various departments are managed by this body that is health services, educational services etc. These perform similar functions as to that of Municipal Council but on a large scale basis, chairman of this corporation is known more commonly as mayor. Election process is similar to the other two bodies.
Functions of these bodies
- Town Planning
- Construction of Buildings
- Roads and Bridges
- Public Health
- Solid Waste Management
- Urban Forestry
- Fire Services
- Street Lighting
- Slum Regulation & Improvement
- Parking Lots
- Bus Stop
- Registration of Birth and Deaths
- Stray Animals Management
- Educational Services
- Water Supply
In the case of Bombay Municipal Corporation vs Olga Tellis Supreme court along with the primary judgement also held that municipal corporations are duty bound for fulfilment of their duties on the basis of affidavits or some other concern cannot relieve themselves from their duties.
Procedure of complaint and Redressal
In regard to any complaint it can be conveyed to the municipal office and then to higher body if all the complaints go unheard. Writ of mandamus can be filled with high court to further get order from high court.
A petition is to be filled at filling counter of the high court where a date will be issued for hearing; bench has to be convinced that the matter is worth hearing and is to be pursued. Then on basis of arguments and facts petition will be allowed or dismissed, once dismissed petition cannot be filled again. Here writ of mandamus has to be filled by which direction will be given to concerned office in fulfilment of their duties.