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Municipalities under the Constitution


Article submitted by SHOBIKA K, BBA LLB, SASTRA SCHOOL OF LAW


Introduction:

Local bodies are local self-government entities that look after the administration of a small area or population, such as villages, the towns, or the suburban areas. Local authorities in India are usually divided into two groups. Local bodies in rural areas designated for local planning, development and administration are referred to as rural local bodies (Panchayats) and local authorities established for local urban planning, development and management are referred to as Urban Local Bodies (Municipalities). The Municipal Government is the responsible body for the local territory or municipality; it enjoys political, fiscal and administrative autonomy within the bounds decided in each country's constitution and laws on decentralization.

The contemplated hierarchical structure of elected Municipalities, democratic decentralization, and greater accountability between citizens and the State, and empowerment of weaker sections are the objectives of 73rd and 74th Constitution Amendment Act, 1992. In accordance with this Act, it is the constitutional obligation of the State Government to add new system of Municipalities. The aim of the act is to revitalize and strengthen the urban government for it to function as an effective unit of the local government.

Municipalities:

The Constitution (Seventy Forth Amendment) Act of 1992 incorporated a new Part IX-A in the Constitution, dealing with municipalities referred under Article 243P to 243ZG. The amendment, which is also known as the Nagarpalika Act, took effect on 1 June 1993. It has granted the municipality statutory status and put them within the justifiable portion of the constitution. According to Article 243P[1] of the Constitution, clause (a) which defines the “committee”, it is constituted in accordance with Article 243B; clause (b) defines “district” as numbers of districts in a State; clause (c) defines "Metropolitan area" as a region with a population of ten lakhs or more, comprising one or more districts and consisting of two or more Municipalities or Panchayats or other contiguous regions, as defined by the Governor by public notice to be a Metropolitan area; clause (d) defines “Municipal area” as Municipal territorial area as notified by the Governor; clause (e) defines “Municipality” means an institution of self-government formed according to Article 243Q; clause (f) “Panchayat” means a Panchayat provided in article 243B; clause (g) “population” means the population, as calculated at the last preceding census, in which the related estimates have been published.

Constitution of Municipalities:

Article 243Q[2] which defines the Constitution of Municipalities, states that every State should constitute three types of Municipalities in urban areas. Provided under this clause 1 sub-section (a) states that every State constituted of a transitional area called a Nagar Panchayat i.e. a region in transition from rural area to an urban area, the subsection (b) of clause 1 describes about Municipal Council for smaller urban areas and the final subsection (c) states about Municipal Corporation for a larger urban areas. Under clause (2) of Article 243Q, Governor has to issue public notification considering the population of the area, density of the population therein with other factors mentioned in the said article for declaring any area as “transitional area”. In the absence of such notification issued under the signature of the Governor of the State, an area cannot be treated as “transitional area”.

Composition of Municipalities:

Article 243R of the Constitution provides for the composition of municipalities[3]. All seats in the Municipality shall be occupied by people elected directly from the territorial electoral districts of the Municipal Area, and for this reason each Municipal Area shall be divided into territorial electoral districts known as wards. Through statute, a state legislature can provide for the election of the chairman of a Municipality. The Gujarat High Court in the case of Pankaj Singh Waghela vs. State Election Commission, asked the State Government and State Election Commission to point out the statutory provisions provide that three councilors shall be selected from each ward of a Municipal Corporation and each voter had to cast vote once, but has to indicate his preference for three candidates, who according to him are best suited to represent the ward. This methodology is not opposed to principle of one man vote weightage of each vote caste by voter is the same because each voter is asked to show his preference for three candidates to represent the ward, that by itself does not bring about any inequality in weightage of votes cast by difference voters. The High Court ruled that the Municipal Corporation, being an institution of self-government, is the third tier of governance in India, each electoral district will follow the pattern of the Parliament and the State Assembly, where only one candidate represents one electoral district. [4]. Ex- officio Commissioner, namely MPs and MLAs can issue a notice to convene a special meeting to discuss no confidence motion against Chairman and Vice-Chairman of municipality and can participate and vote in proceeding for removal of the Chairman[5].

Ward Committee:

Article 243S of the Constitution provides for the constitution and composition of Wards Committees[6], etc., consisting of one or more wards, within the geographical territory of a municipality with three lakhs or more inhabitants. Where a Wards Committee is composed of two or more wards, the Chairman of that Committee shall be one of the members representing those wards in the Municipality chosen by the Wards Committee members.

Reservation of seats:

Article 243T of the Constitution[7] provides for the allocation of seats in every Municipal Corporation for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The seats must be given in proportion to their contribution to the total population in the municipal area. The percentage of seats to be reserved for SC / ST out of total seats must be the same as the percentage of SC / ST population in the municipal area. Also, those seats which are to be occupied by the direct elections have to be reserved (This means no designated seat bookings). The article, further, stipulates that not less than one-third of the total number of seats reserved for SC / ST will be reserved for SC / ST females.

Duration of Municipality and Disqualifications of membership:

Article 243U[8] of the Constitution provides for the duration of Municipality, which is five years from the date appointed for its first meeting. Elections to constitute a municipality must be completed before the term of the municipality has expired. If the municipality is dissolved before the expiry of 5 years, it is necessary to complete the elections to constitute a new municipality within 6 months from the date of dissolution. Under Article 243V[9], member is disqualified from being chosen as a municipal member if he or she is disqualified under any law to be elected as Member of Legislative Assembly. The minimum age to be eligible for membership is 21.

Power, authorities and responsibilities:

According to Article 243W[10], all municipalities should be entrusted with the powers and responsibilities needed to enable them to act as effective self-government bodies. By statute, the State Legislature may determine what powers and responsibilities to be granted to municipalities in preparing and implementing plans for economic growth and social justice.

Powers relating to taxation:

Under Article 243X[11], The Constitution empowers State Legislature to specify the matters relating to taxation. Taxes, duties, tolls, and fees that could be levied and collected by the Municipalities in accordance with the procedure laid down in the State Law. The State Government would levy and collect the taxes, duties, tolls and fees and render a portion thereof to the Municipalities. Consolidated Fund of the State would be provided for making grants-in-aid to the Municipalities. The Municipality shall establish funds for crediting and withdrawing funds.

Finance Commission:

Article 243Y[12] provides that the Finance Commission set up for Panchayats under Part IX shall also review the financial position of the municipalities and make recommendations to the Governor. The recommendations of the Finance Commission shall contain the following:

· The State distributes the net proceeds of the taxes, duties, tolls and fees to be levied between the State Government and the municipalities.

· Allocation of share of this income between the municipalities at all rates in the State

· Determination of the taxes, duties, tolls and fees to be levied by the municipalities

· Grants of funding from the State Consolidated Fund to Municipalities

· Measures required for improving the Municipalities' financial position.

Audit of accounts of Municipalities:

As per article 243Z[13], the management of the accounts of municipalities and other audits shall be carried out in compliance with the rules of State law. The State Legislatures shall be free to make necessary provisions in this respect, depending on the local needs, and the institutional structure available for this reason.

Elections to the Municipalities:

Article 243ZA, provides that the superintendent, direction and control of the preparation of the electoral rolls and the conduct of all elections to the Panchayats and municipalities shall be entrusted to the State Election Commissions.

Application to Union Territories:

Article 243ZB, allows for the extension of these rules to the Union Territories. This Article states that the laws of the Municipalities shall extend to the UTs in the same way as in the case of the States, but the President may, by means of a public notice, make certain changes to the requirements of any part thereof.

Part not to apply in certain areas:

Article 243 ZC states that the rules of Part IX-A shall not extend to the Scheduled Areas referred to in Article 244. These include Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram. This part is also not applicable to the area covered by the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council. If the Parliament makes any changes to the scheduled areas, the same restrictions would apply to those areas as well.

In accordance with Article 243 ZD, a District Planning Committee shall be formed in each State at district level to consolidate the plans drawn up by the Panchayats and the District Municipalities, and to prepare a draft development plan for the district as a whole. Article 243 ZE states that a Metropolitan Planning Committee shall be constituted in each Metropolitan Area to prepare a draft development plan for the entire Metropolitan Area. A Metropolitan Planning Committee shall be established for the areas with a population of 10 lakhs or more to prepare a draft development plan for the metropolitan area as a whole[14].

Conclusion:

Municipalities serve to develop the community and help in setting up a grass-root democracy. As local government is a local self-governing authority, local people will find practical approaches to their difficulties. This purpose will only be achieved when the elected representative has the service mind to the people.

[1]Indian Kanoon, Article 243P in the Constitution of India 1949, (Aug 16,2020,11:05pm), https://indiankanoon.org/doc/586850/ [2]Indian Kanoon, Article 243Q in the Constitution of India 1949, (Aug 16,2020, 11:07pm), https://indiankanoon.org/doc/15169/ [3]Indian Kanoon, Article 243R in the Constitution of India 1949, (Aug 16, 2020, 11:08pm), https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1970232/ [4]AIR 2010 Guj 161 (162) (DB) [5] AIR 2012 Gau 62 (63) [6] Indian Kanoon, Article 243S in the Constitution of India 1949, (Aug 16, 2020, 11:10pm), https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1572280/ [7] Indian Kanoon, Article 243T in the Constitution of India 1949, (Aug 16, 2020, 11:12pm), https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1547761/ [8]Indian Kanoon, Article 243U in the Constitution of India 1949, (Aug 16, 2020, 11:13pm), https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1216677/ [9]Indian Kanoon, Article 243V in the Constitution of Indi 1949, (Aug 16,2020,11:14pm), https://indiankanoon.org/doc/348652/ [10]Indian Kanoon, Article 243W in the Constitution of India 1949, (Aug 16, 2020, 11:14pm), https://indiankanoon.org/doc/745615/ [11]Indian Kanoon, Article 243X in the Constitution of India 1949, (Aug 16, 2000, 11:16pm), https://indiankanoon.org/doc/831339/ [12]Indian Kanoon, Article 243Y in the Constitution of India 1949, (Aug 16, 2000, 11:18pm), https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1591876/ [13]Indian Kanoon, Article 243Z in the Constitution of India 1949, (Aug 16, 2000, 11:20pm), https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1462235/ [14]Nitisha, 74th Amendment of Constitution of India, YOUR ARTICLE LIBRARY, (Aug 16,2020, 11:38pm), https://www.yourarticlelibrary.com/constitution/74th-amendment-of-the-constitution-of-india-summary/46678

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