Municipal bodies have a long history in India.
The first such Municipal Corporation was set-up in the former Presidency Town of Madras in 1688, and was followed by similar corporations in the then Bombay and Calcutta in 1726.
Lord Ripon’s Resolution of 1882 has been hailed as the ‘Magna Carta’ of local self-government. He is called the father of local self-government in India.
The Constitution of India has made detailed provisions for ensuring the protection of democracy in Parliament and in the state legislatures.
However, the Constitution did not make the local self-government in urban areas a clear-cut constitutional obligation.
While the Directive Principles of State Policy refer to village Panchayats, there is no specific reference to Municipalities except the implicitly in Entry 5 of the State List, which places the subject of local self-governments as a responsibility of the states.
In order to provide for a common framework for urban local bodies and help to strengthen the functioning of the bodies as effective democratic units of self-government, Parliament enacted the Constitution (74th Amendment) Act, 1992 relating to municipalities in 1992.
The Act received the assent of the President on 20 April 1993.
The Government of India notified 1 June 1993 as the date from which the said Act came into force.
A new part IX-A relating to the Municipalities has been incorporated in the Constitution.
It provided for the constitution of three types of Municipalities, i.e., Nagar Panchayats for areas in transition from a rural area to an urban area, Municipal Councils for smaller urban areas and Municipal Corporation for large urban areas.
It provided a fixed duration of municipalities, the appointment of a state election commission, appointment of state finance commission and constitution of metropolitan and district planning committees.
State/UTs have set-up their election Commissions. Elections to municipal bodies have been completed in all States/UTs except Jharkhand and Puducherry.
74th Amendment act of 1992
This Act has added a new Part IX-A to the Constitution of India.
This part created two types of bodies:
 Institutions of self-government [Article 243Q], and
 Institutions for planning [Article 243ZX and 243 ZE].
It is entitled ‘The Municipalities’ and consists of provisions from Articles 243-P to 243-ZG.
In addition, the act has also added a new Twelfth Schedule to the Constitution.
This schedule contains eighteen functional items of municipalities. It deals with Article 243-W.
It has given constitutional status to the municipalities and brought them under the justifiable part of the constitution.
The state governments are under a constitutional obligation to adopt the new system of municipalities in accordance with the provisions of the act.
Article 243Q makes it obligatory for every State to constitute such units.
But if there is an urban area or part of it where municipal services are being provided or proposed to be provided by an industrial establishment in that area then considering also the size of the area and other factors the Governor may specify it to be an industrial township.
For such an area it is not mandatory to constitute a Municipality.
Composition of Municipalities:
The members of a municipality would generally be elected by direct election.
The Legislature of a State may by law provide for representation in a municipality of
[a] persons having special knowledge or experience in municipal administration,
[b] Members of Lok Sabha, State Assembly, Rajya Sabha, and Legislative Council, and
[c] The Chairpersons of Committees. The Chairperson shall be elected in the manner provided by the Legislature.
For one or more wards comprised within the territorial area of a municipality having a population of three lakhs or more, it would be obligatory to constitute Ward Committees.
The State Legislature shall make provision with respect to its composition, territorial area and the manner in which the seats in a ward committee shall be filled.
It is open for the State Legislature to constitute Committees in addition to the wards committees.
Reservations of seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes:
In Part IX reservations of seats are to be made in favor of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in every Municipality.
Reservation for women:
Out of the total number of seats to be filled by direct elections at least 1/3rd would be reserved for women.
This includes the quota for women belonging to Scheduled Castes and Tribes.
Reservation of offices of Chairpersons:
It has been left to the State legislature to prescribe by law the manner of reservation of the offices of the Chairpersons of Municipalities.
All reservations in favor of Scheduled Castes and Tribes shall come to an end with the expiry of the period specified in Article 334.
It is permissible for a State Legislature to make provisions for reservation of seats or offices of Chairpersons in favor of backward classes.
Duration of Municipalities:
Every Municipality shall continue for five years from the date of its first meeting.
But it may be dissolved earlier according to law.
Article 243Q further prescribes that before dissolution a reasonable opportunity of being heard must be given to the municipality.
Elections to constitute a Municipality shall be completed before the expiry of the period of five years.
If the Municipality has been superseded before the expiry of its term, the elections must be completed within six months of its dissolution.
A Municipality constituted after its dissolution shall continue only for the remainder of the term.
But if the remainder of the period is less than six months it shall not be necessary to hold elections.
It has been provided that no amendment of the law in force shall cause the dissolution of a Municipality before the expiry of the five years term.
Qualification for membership:
Article 243V lays down that all persons who are qualified to be chosen to the State legislature shall be qualified for being a member of a Municipality.
There is an important difference.
Persons who have attained the age of 21 years will be eligible to be a member.
While the constitutional requirement is that for election to the State legislature of a State a person must have attained the age of 25years [Article 173].
Powers, authority and responsibilities of Municipalities:
Legislatures of States have been conferred the power [Article 243W] to confer on the Municipalities all such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as institutions of self-government.
It has specifically been mentioned that they may be given the responsibility of [a] preparation of plans for economic development and social justice, [b] implementation of schemes as may be entrusted to them, and [c] in regard to matters listed in the 12th schedule.
This schedule contains 18 items, e.g., Urban Planning, Regulation of Land Use, Roads and Bridges, Water Supply, Public Health, Fire Services Urban Forestry, Slums, etc.
Powers to impose taxes and financial resources:
A State Legislature may by law authorize a Municipality to levy, collect and appropriate taxes, duties, tolls, etc.
The law may lay down the limits and prescribe the procedure to be followed.
It can also assign to a Municipality various taxes, duties, etc. collected by the State Government.
Grants-in-aid may be given to the Municipalities, from the Consolidated Fund of the State.
The Finance Commission appointed under Article 243-I shall also review the financial position of the Municipalities and make recommendations as to-
 the distribution between the State and the Municipalities of the net proceeds of taxes, duties, tolls, and fees leviable by the State which may be divided between them and how the allocation of shares amongst various levels of Municipalities.
 the taxes, duties, tolls, and fees may be assigned to the Municipalities.
 grant-in-aid to the Municipalities.
 the measures needed to improve the financial position of the Municipalities.
 any other matter that may be referred to it by the Governor.
Elections of Municipalities:
The State Election Commission appointed under Article 243K shall have the power of superintendence, direction, and control of [a] the preparation of electoral rolls for, and [b] the conduct of all elections to the Municipalities.
State Legislatures have been vested with the necessary power to regulate by law all matters relating to elections to Municipalities.
Bar to interference by courts in electoral matters:
The courts shall have no jurisdiction to examine the validity of a law, relating to the delimitation of constituencies or the allotment of seats made under Article 243ZA.
An election to a Municipality can be called in question only by an election petition which should be presented to such authority and in such manner as may be prescribed by or under any law made by the State Legislature.
Committees for (a) District Planning and (b) Metropolitan Planning:
Apart from giving constitutional recognition to Municipalities, the 74th Amendment lays down that in every State two committees shall be constituted.
 At the district level a District Planning Committee [At the district level a District Planning Committee [Article 243ZD].
 In every metropolitan area a Metropolitan Planning Committee [Article 243 ZB].
The composition of the committees and the manner in which the seats are to be filled are to be provided by a law to be made by the State Legislature.
But it has been laid down that,–
in the case of the District Planning Committee, at least 4/5th of the members shall be elected by the elected members of the district level Panchayat and of the Municipalities in the district from amongst themselves. Their proportion would be in accordance with the ratio of the urban and rural population of the district.
in the case of the Metropolitan Planning Committee, at least 2/3rd of the members of the committee shall be elected by the Members of the Municipalities and Chairpersons of the Panchayats in the Metropolitan area from amongst themselves. The proportion of seats to be shared by them would be based on the ratio of the population of the Municipalities and the Panchayats in the area.
The State legislature would by law make provision with respect to [a] the functions relating to district planning that may be assigned to the district committees, and [b] the manner in which the Chairperson of a district committee may be chosen.
The Committee shall prepare and forward the development plan to the State Government.
In regard to the Metropolitan Planning Committee which is to prepare a development plan for the whole Metropolitan area, the State Legislature may by law make provision for—
[a] the representation of the Central and State Governments and of such organizations and institutions as may be deemed necessary,
[b] the functions relating to planning and coordination for the Metropolitan area,
[c] the manner in which the Chairpersons of such committees shall be chosen.
The development plan shall be forwarded to the State Government.
Addition to the duties of the Finance Commission under Article 280—
This part adds one more function to the duties cast on the Finance Commission appointed by the President under Article 280.
The Commission will make recommendations in regard to the measures needed to augment the Consolidated Fund of a State to supplement the resources of the Municipalities in the State on the basis of the recommendations made by the State Finance Commission.
Twelfth Schedule (Article 243-W)
Functional items of municipalities:
[a] Urban planning including town planning.
[b] Regulation of land use and construction of buildings.
[c] Planning for economic and social development.
[d] Roads and Bridges.
[e] Water supply for domestic, industrial and commercial purposes.
[f] Public health, sanitation conservancy, and solid waste management.
[g] Fire services.
[h] Urban forestry, protection of the environment and promotion of ecological aspects.
[i] Safeguarding the interests of weaker sections of society, including the handicapped and mentally retarded.
[j] Slum improvement and up-gradation.
[k] Urban poverty alleviation.
[l] Provision of urban amenities and facilities such as parks, gardens, playgrounds.
[m] Promotion of cultural, educational and aesthetic aspects.
[n] Burials and burial grounds, cremation, cremation grounds, and electric crematoriums.
[o] Cattle ponds; prevention of cruelty to animals.
[p] Vital statistics including registration of births and deaths.
[q] Public amenities including street lighting, parking lots, bus stops and public conveniences.
[r] Regulation of slaughterhouses and tanneries.