By Vishnu Prasad, IFMR Finance Foundation
This post and the next one look at the Karnataka Municipalities Act, 1964, which is the enabling legislation for the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act in Karnataka. The two posts look at 3 main features of the Act- functions, functionaries and funds. The current post speaks about the first two features.
The Karnataka Municipalities Act, 1964 (KM Act) comprises 17 chapters, 380 sections and 13 schedules. The founding objective of the Act was to have a uniform law for the governance of Municipal Councils in the State, which were governed until then by seven different enactments. The initial Act aimed to govern both City Municipalities and Town Municipalities as the provisions were in most case common and it was seen as convenient to have a single enactment for both kinds of Municipalities. The Act was later amended in 1994 (Amending Act 36 of 1994) to bring it in conformity with the provisions of the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act (CAA), 1992.
While the City Municipal Councils (CMC), Town Municipal Councils (TMC), Town Panchayats (TPs) and Notified Area Committees (NACs) are governed by the KM Act, the larger City Corporations (CCs) are governed by the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act (KMC Act), 1976. The Table below provides a category-wise breakup of ULBs in the state.
The KM Act mentions 23 obligatory functions, 2 special functions and 35 discretionary functions of municipal councils. The 23 obligatory functions contain most functions devolved under the 74th CAA (for more on this see our earlier blog post).
The 2 special functions are:
- Providing special medical aid and accommodation for the sick in time of dangerous disease; and taking such measures as may be required to prevent the outbreak of the disease;
- Giving relief to and establishing and maintaining relief works in times of famine or scarcity.
The 35 discretionary functions include specific functions like planting and maintaining roadside and other trees; taking statistics and granting rewards for information which may tend to secure the correct registration of vital statistics; maintenance of an ambulance service and broad functions like the promotion of public health or child welfare; provision of transport facilities within the municipal area and revival or promotion of cottage industries.
The Most important functionary at the ULB is the Municipal Council. Every municipal council is headed by the President and Vice-President. The Municipal Council consists of:
- Councilors, elected by the people under their jurisdiction
- Not more than five persons nominated by the Government from amongst the residents of the municipal area and who are,
- (i) Persons having special knowledge and experience in municipal administration or matters relating to health, town planning or education, or
- (ii) Social workers.
In addition to the Municipal Council, ULBs also have a Standing committee that deals with the following subjects:
- Taxation, finance and appeals;
- Public health, education and social justice;
- Town planning and improvement;
Every municipal council has a Chief Officer who is appointed by the Director of Municipal Administration. The Chief Officer functions as the executive head of the municipal council. The duties of the Chief Officer include:
- Taking prompt steps to remove any irregularity pointed out by the auditor
- Reporting to the President, the Standing committee and the Municipal Council all cases of fraud, embezzlement, theft or loss of municipal money or property
- Supplying any return, statement, estimate, statistics, account, or report or a copy of any document in his charge called for by the municipal council or the standing committee
- Exercising supervision and control over the acts and proceedings of all officers and servants of the municipal council in matters of executive administration and in matters concerning the accounts and records of the municipal council
The powers of the Chief Officer include granting and issuing licenses and permissions which may be granted by the municipal council; suspending or withholding any of the issued license; receiving and crediting to the municipal fund all fees payable for licenses; entering (on behalf of the municipal council) into contracts and inviting tenders for the execution of any approved work.
A municipal council may also appoint one or more Health Officers whether temporarily or permanently, the officers being officers of the Department of Public Health.
The Director of Municipal Administration (subject to the control and orders of the Government) acts as the chief controlling authority in respect of all matters relating to the administration of the KM Act. For example, the Deputy Commissioner has the power to suspend the execution of orders of municipal councils if the order is deemed unlawful or is likely to lead to a breach of peace. The Director of Municipal Administration may also take steps to prevent extravagance in the employment of the municipal councils. In addition, the state government has the power to dissolve municipal councils under circumstances where the municipal council persistently makes defaults in the performance of the duties imposed on it or exceeds, abuses its power or refuses to carry out the directions given to it under the provisions of the KM Act.
(The entire act may be accessed here.)