ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The City in the Constitution

The Constitution of India considers states to be the smallest unit of governance, leaving further devolution of powers at their discretion. Even the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments do not sufficiently empower the panchayati raj institutions or urban local bodies to respond to the needs of citizens in a democratic manner. With growing urbanisation, the problem of democratic deficit in the cities is going to become even more acute.

Here’s a thought experiment: Could a state government, by law, strip all urban local bodies (ULBs) in the state of their powers and hand it over to an administrator nominated by it? Could, say, the Karnataka Legislative Assembly amend the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act, 1976 to state that all the powers and functions hitherto exercised by the municipal corporation and the standing committees shall vest solely with the commissioner of that large urban area?

Such a move would keep a rump municipal corporation in place, as required by Clause (1) of Article 243Q, with elected councillors and a mayor and deputy mayor serving out their mandated terms, but with no powers to make regulations or by-laws. The powers of the municipal corporation could, in such a theoretical amendment, be given to the municipal commissioner and such other officers as the government may appoint.

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Updated On : 18th Jan, 2019
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