Local Goverment

Local self-government in India

Republic of India
Union Government
Political parties
State Govt. and Local Govt.


Local Governments in Independent India, since 1992,has been formalized under the panchayat raj system (rule by village committee), a three-tier system with elected bodies at the village, taluk and district levels. The modern system is based in part on traditional panchayat governance, in part on the vision of Mahatma Gandhi and in part by the work of various committees to harmonize the highly centralized Indian governmental administration with a degree of local autonomy. The result was intended to create greater participation in local government by people and more effective implementation of rural development programmes. Although, as of 2015, implementation in all of India is not complete the intention is for there to be a gram panchayat for each village or group of villages, a tehsil level council, and a zilla panchayat at the district level.

India has a chequered history of panchayati raj starting from the self-sufficient and self-governing village communities that endured the rise and fall of empires in the past, to the current highly structured system.
Local government is government at the village and district level. Local governments got a fillip after the 73rd and 74th Constitution Amendment Acts. Later in 1992, the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments were passed by the Parliament.

  • The73rd Amendment is about Rural Local Governments (which are also known as Panchayati Raj Institutions or PRIs) and
  • The74th amendment made the provisions relating to Urban Local Governments (Nagarpalikas).

The 73rd and 74th amendments have created uniformity in the structures of Panchayati Raj and Nagarpalika institutions across the country. The 73rd and 74th Amendments came into force in 1993.

Rural Local Governments (or Panchayat Raj Institutiions)

Zilla Panchayat

  • Mandal Or Taluka Panchayats
  • Gram Panchayats

Urban Local Governments (or Nagarpalikas)

  • Municipal Corporations
  • Municipal councils
  • Nagar Panchayats



  • 1Early history
  • 2During British Rule
  • 3Post-Independence Period
  • 4The Balwant Rai Mehta Committee (1957)
  • V.K. Rao Committee (1985)
  • M.Singhvi Committee (1986)
  • 7The 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act
  • 8Present scenario
  • 9Functions

Early history

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In the time of the Rig-Veda (1700 BC), evidences suggest that self-governing village bodies called ‘sabhas’ existed. With the passage of time, these bodies became panchayats (council of five persons). Panchayats were functional institutions of grassroots governance in almost every village. The Village Panchayat or elected council had large powers, both executive and judicial. Land was distributed by this panchayat which also collected taxes out of the produce and paid the government’s share on behalf of the village. Above a number of these village councils there was a larger panchayat or council to supervise and interfere if necessary. Casteism and feudalistic system of governance under Mughal rule in the medieval period slowly eroded the self-government in villages. A new class of feudal chiefs and revenue collectors (zamindars) emerged between the ruler and the people. And, so began the stagnation and decline of self-government in villages.

During the British rule, the autonomy of panchayats gradually declined with the establishment of local civil and criminal courts, revenue and police organisations, the increase in communications, the growth of individualism and the operation of the individual Ryotwari ‘(landholder-wise) system as against the Mahalwari or village tenure system.

During British Rule

Main article: [[: British Raj ]]

The panchayati had never been the priority of the British rulers. The rulers were interested in the creation of ‘controlled’ local bodies, which could help them in their trading interests by collecting taxes for them. When the colonial administration came under severe financial pressure after the 1857 uprising, the sought was decentralisation in terms of transferring responsibility for road and public works to local bodies. However, the thrust of this ‘compelled’ decentralisation was with respect to municipal administration..

“The panchayat was destroyed by the East India Company when it was granted the office of Diwan in 1765 by the Mughal Emperor as part of reparation after his defeat at Buxar. As Diwan the Company took two decisions. The first was that it abolished the village land record office and created a company official called Patwari. The Patwari became the official record keeper for a number of villages. The second was the creation of the office of magistrate and the abolition of village police. The magistrate carried out policing functions through the Darogha who had always been a state functionary under the Faujdar. The primary purpose of these measures was the collection of land revenue by fiat. The depredations of the Patwari and the Darogha are part of our folklore and it led to the worst famine in Bengal. The effects of the famine lingered right to the end of the 18th century. These two measures completely disempowered the village community and destroyed the panchayat. After 1857 the British tried to restore the panchayat by giving it powers to try minor offences and to resolve village disputes. But these measures never restored the lost powers of the village community.” From 1870 that Viceroy Lord Mayo’s Resolution (for decentralisation of power to bring about administrative efficiency in meeting people’s demand and to add to the finances of colonial regime) gave the needed impetus to the development of local institutions. It was a landmark in the evolution of colonial policy towards local government. The real benchmarking of the government policy on decentralisation can, however, be attributed to Lord Ripon who, in his famous resolution on local self-government on May 18, 1882, recognised the twin considerations of local government: (i) administrative efficiency and (ii) political education. The Ripon Resolution, which focused on towns, provided for local bodies consisting of a large majority of elected non-official members and presided over by a non-official chairperson. This resolution met with resistance from colonial administrators. The progress of local self-government was tardy with only half-hearted steps taken in setting up municipal bodies. Rural decentralisation remained a neglected area of administrative reform.

The Royal Commission on Decentralisation (1907) under the chairmanship of C.E.H. Hobhouse recognised the importance of panchayats at the village level. The commission recommended that “it is most desirable, alike in the interests of decentralisation and in order to associate the people with the local tasks of administration, that an attempt should be made to constitute and develop village panchayats for the administration of local village affairs”.

But, the Montague-Chemsford reforms (1919) brought local self-government as a provincial transferred subject, under the domain of Indian ministers in the provinces. Due to organisational and fiscal constraints, the reform was unable to make panchayat institutions truly democratic and vibrant. However, the most significant development of this period was the ‘establishment of village panchayats in a number of provinces, that were no longer mere ad hoc judicial tribunal, but representative institutions symbolising the corporate character of the village and having a wide jurisdiction in respect of civic matters’. l By 1925, eight provinces had passed panchayat acts and by 1926, six native states had also passed panchayat laws.

The provincial autonomy under the Government of India Act, 1935, marked the evolution of panchayats in India. Popularly elected governments in provinces enacted legislations to further democratise institutions of local self-government. But the system of responsible government at the grassroots level was least responsible. D.P. Mishra, the then minister for local self-government under the Government of India Act of 1935 in Central Provinces was of the view that ‘the working of our local bodies… in our province and perhaps in the whole country presents a tragic picture… ‘Inefficiency’ and ‘local body’ have become synonymous terms….’.

In spite of various committees such as the Royal Commission on Decentralization (1907), the report of Montague and Chemsford on constitutional reform (1919), the Government of India Resolution (1919), etc., a hierarchical administrative structure based on supervision and control evolved. The administrator became the focal point of rural governance. The British were not concerned with decentralised democracy but were aiming for colonial objectives.

The Indian National Congress from the 1920s to 1947, emphasized the issue of all-India Swaraj, and organized movements for Independence under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. The task of preparing any sort of blueprint for the local level was neglected as a result. There was no consensus among the top leaders regarding the status and role to be assigned to the institution of rural local self-government; rather there were divergent views on the subject. On the one end Gandhi favoured Village Swaraj and strengthening the village panchayat to the fullest extent and on the other end, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar opposed this idea. He believed that the village represented regressive India, a source of oppression. The model state hence had to build safeguards against such social oppression and the only way it could be done was through the adoption of the parliamentary model of politics  During the drafting of the Constitution of India, Panchayati Raj Institutions were placed in the non-justiciable part of the Constitution, the Directive Principles of State Policy, as Article 40. The Article read ‘the State shall take steps to organise village panchayats and endow them with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as units of self-government’. However, no worthwhile legislation was enacted either at the national or state level to implement it.

In the four decades since the adoption of the Constitution, panchayat raj institutions have travelled from the non-justiciable part of the Constitution to one where, through a separate amendment, a whole new status has been added to their history

Post-Independence Period

Panchayat raj had to go through various stages. The First Five Year Plan failed to bring about active participation and involvement of the people in the Plan processes, which included Plan formulation implementation and monitoring. The Second Five Year Plan attempted to cover the entire countryside with National Extensive Service Blocks through the institutions of Block Development Officers, Assistant Development Officers, Village Level Workers, in addition to nominated representatives of village panchayats of that area and some other popular organisations like co-operative societies. But the plan failed to satisfactorily accomplish decentralisation. Hence, committees were constituted by various authorities to advise the Centre on different aspects of decentralisation.

The Balwant Rai Mehta Committee (1957)

In 1957, Balwant Rai Mehta Committee studied the Community Development Projects and the National Extension Service and assessed the extent to which the movement had succeeded in utilising local initiatives and in creating institutions to ensure continuity in the process of improving economic and social conditions in rural areas. The Committee held that community development would only be deep and enduring when the community was involved in the planning, decision-making and implementation process. The suggestions were for as follows: –

  • an early establishment of elected local bodies and devolution to them of necessary resources, power and authority,
  • that the basic unit of democratic decentralisation was at the block/samiti level since the area of jurisdiction of the local body should neither be too large nor too small. The block was large enough for efficiency and economy of administration, and small enough for sustaining a sense of involvement in the citizens,
  • such body must not be constrained by too much control by the government or government agencies,
  • the body must be constituted for five years by indirect elections from the village panchayats,
  • its functions should cover the development of agriculture in all its aspects, the promotion of local industries and others
  • services such as drinking water, road building, etc., and
  • the higher level body, Zilla Parishad, would play an advisory role.

The PRI structure did not develop the requisite democratic momentum and failed to cater to the needs of rural development. There are various reasons for such an outcome which include political and bureaucratic resistance at the state level to share power and resources with local level institutions, domination of local elites over the major share of the benefits of welfare schemes, lack of capability at the local level and lack of political will.

It was decided to appoint a high-level committee under the chairmanship of Ashok Mehta to examine and suggest measures to strengthen PRIs. The Committee had to evolve an effective decentralised system of development for PRIs. They made the following recommendations:-

  • the district is a viable administrative unit for which planning, co-ordination and resource allocation are feasible and technical expertise available,
  • PRIs as a two-tier system, with Mandal Panchayat at the base and Zilla Parishad at the top,
  • the PRIs are capable of planning for themselves with the resources available to them,
  • district planning should take care of the urban-rural continuum,
  • representation of SCs and STs in the election to PRIs on the basis of their population,
  • four-year term of PRIs,
  • participation of political parties in elections,
  • any financial devolution should be committed to accepting

that much of the developmental functions at the district level would be played by the panchayats.

The states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal passed new legislation based on this report. However, the flux in politics at the state level did not allow these institutions to develop their own political dynamics.

G.V.K. Rao Committee (1985)

The G.V.K. Rao Committee was appointed by Planning Commission to once again look at various aspects of PRIs. The Committee was of the opinion that a total view of rural development must be taken in which PRIs must play a central role in handling people’s problems. It recommended the following: –

  • PRIs have to be activated and provided with all the required support to become effective organisations,
  • PRIs at district level and below should be assigned the work of planning, implementation and monitoring of rural development programmes, and
  • the block development office should be the spinal cord of the rural development process.

L.M.Singhvi Committee (1986)

L.M. Singhvi Committee studied panchayati raj. The Gram Sabha was considered as the base of a decentralised democracy, and PRIs viewed as institutions of self-governance which would actually facilitate the participation of the people in the process of planning and development. It recommended

local self-government should be constitutionally recognised, protected and preserved by the inclusion of new chapter in the Constitution,

  • non-involvement of political parties in Panchayat elections.

The suggestion of giving panchayats constitutional status was opposed by the Sarkaria Commission, but the idea, however, gained momentum in the late 1980s especially because of the endorsement by the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who introduced the 64th Constitutional Amendment Bill in 1989. The 64th Amendment Bill was prepared and introduced in the lower house of Parliament. But it got defeated in the Rajya Sabha as non-convincing. He lost the general elections too. In 1989, the National Front introduced the 74th Constitutional Amendment Bill, which could not become an Act because of the dissolution of the Ninth Lok Sabha. All these various suggestions and recommendations and means of strengthening PRIs were considered while formulating the new Constitutional Amendment Act.

The 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act

The idea which produced the 73rd Amendment  was not a response to pressure from the grassroots, but to an increasing recognition that the institutional initiatives of the preceding decade had not delivered, that the extent of rural poverty was still much too large and thus the existing structure of government needed to be reformed. It is interesting to note that this idea evolved from the Centre and the state governments. It was a political drive to see PRIs as a solution to the governmental crises that India was experiencing. The Constitutional (73rd Amendment) Act, passed in 1992 by the Narasimha Rao government, came into force on April 24, 1993. It was meant to provide constitutional sanction to establish “democracy at the grassroots level as it is at the state level or national level”. Its main features are as follows: The Gram Sabha or village assembly as a deliberative body to decentralised governance has been envisaged as the foundation of the Panchayati Raj System.73rd Amendment of the Constitution empowered the Gram Sabhas to conduct social audits in addition to its other functions.

  • A uniform three-tier structure of panchayats at village (Gram Panchayat — GP), intermediate or block (Panchayat Samiti — PS) and district (Zilla Parishad — ZP) levels.
  • All the seats in a panchayat at every level are to be filled by elections from respective territorial constituencies.
  • Not less than one-third of the total seats for membership as well as office of chairpersons of each tier have to be reserved for women.
  • Reservation for weaker castes and tribes (SCs and STs) have to be provided at all levels in proportion to their population in the panchayats.
  • To supervise, direct and control the regular and smooth elections to panchayats, a State Election Commission has The Act has ensured constitution of a State Finance Commission in every State/UT, for every five years, to suggest measures to strengthen finances of panchayati raj institutions.
  • To promote bottom-up-planning, the District Planning Committee (DPC) in every district has been accorded to constitutional status.
  • An indicative list of 29 items has been given in Eleventh Schedule of the Constitution. Panchayats are expected to play an effective role in planning and implementation of works related to these 29 items.

Present scenario


Newly Elected Panchayat in Punjab, India

At present, there are about 3 million elected representatives at all levels of the panchayat 1/2th of which are women. These members represent more than 2.4 lakh (240,000) Gram Panchayats, about 6,000 intermediate level tiers and more than 500 district panchayats. Spread over the length and breadth of the country, the new panchayats cover about 96 per cent of India’s more than 5.8 lakh (580,000) villages and nearly 99.6 per cent of rural population. This is the largest experiment in decentralisation of governance in the history of humanity.

The Constitution visualises panchayats as institutions of self-governance. However, giving due consideration to the federal structure of India’s polity, most of the financial powers and authorities to be endowed on panchayats have been left at the discretion of concerned state legislatures. Consequently, the powers and functions vested in PRIs vary from state to state. These provisions combine representative and direct democracy into a synergy and are expected to result in an extension and deepening of democracy in India. Hence, panchayats have journeyed from an institution within the culture of India to attain constitutional status.

This is one of the biggest democracy in the world where village level democratic structures are functioning for their development.


All municipal acts in India provide for functions, powers and responsibilities to be carried out by the municipal government. These are divided into two categories – obligatory or discretionary.

Obligatory functions

  • supply of pure and wholesome water
  • construction and maintenance of public streets
  • lighting and watering of public streets
  • cleaning of public streets, places and sewers
  • regulation of offensive, dangerous or obnoxious trades and callings or practices
  • maintenance or support of public hospitals
  • establishment and maintenance of primary schools
  • registration of births and deaths
  • removing obstructions and projections in public streets, bridges and other places
  • naming streets and numbering houses

Discretionary functions

  • laying out of areas
  • securing or removal of dangerous buildings or places
  • construction and maintenance of public parks, gardens, libraries, museums, rest houses, leper homes, orphanages and rescue homes for women
  • public buildings
  • planting and maintenance of roadside and other trees
  • housing for low income groups
  • conducting surveys
  • organizing public receptions, public exhibitions, public entertainment
  • provision of transport facilities with the municipality
  • promotion of welfare of municipal employees

Some of the functions of the urban bodies overlap with the work of state agencies. The functions of the municipality, including those listed in the Twelfth Schedule are left to the discretion of the state government. Local bodies have to be bestowed with adequate powers, authority and responsibility to perform the functions entrusted to them by the Act. However, the Act has not provided them with any powers directly and has instead left it to state government discretion.


  • Panchayati Raj
  • Zilla Parishad
  • Panchayat Samiti
  • Nyaya Panchayat
  • Municipal Corporation
  • Panchayati raj
  • MuhammaPanchayath Office, Kerala
  • ThePanchayat raj is a South Asian political system found mainly in the nations of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. It is the oldest system of local government in the Indian subcontinent. The word raj means “rule” and panchayat means “assembly” (ayat) of five (panch). Traditionally panchayats consisted of wise and respected elders chosen and accepted by the local community. However, there were varying forms of such assemblies. Traditionally, these assemblies settled disputes between individuals and between villages.
  • The leader of the panchayat was often called themukhiya or sarpanch, an elected or generally acknowledged position. The modernpanchayati raj of India and its gram panchayats are not to be confused with either the traditional system nor with the extra-constitutionalkhap panchayats (or caste panchayats) found in northern India.
  • Open Panchayat near Narsingarh MP India
  • Mahatma Gandhiadvocated panchayat raj as the foundation of India’s political system. It would have been a decentralised form of government where each village would be responsible for its own affairs. The term for such a vision was Gram Swaraj (“village self-governance”). Instead India developed a highly centralised form of government. However, this has been moderated by the decentralisation of several administrative functions to the local level, empowering elected gram panchayats. There are significant differences between the traditional panchayati raj system, that envisioned by Gandhi, and the system formalised in India in 1992

District Councils of India
Zila Panchayats are Panchayats at Apex or District Level in Panchayat Raj Institutions (or PRIs).
The 73rd Amendment is about Rural Local Governments (which are also known as Panchayati Raj Institutions or PRIs Panchayat at District(or apex) Level

  • Panchayat at Intermediate Level
  • Panchayat at Base Level

The Zila Panchayat or District Council or Zilla Parishad or District Panchayat, is the third tier of the Panchayati Raj system. Zila Parishad is an elected body. Chairpersons or Block Pramukh of Block Samitis are also represented in Zila Parishad. The members of the State Legislature and the members of the Parliament of India are members of the Zila Parishad.



  • Administrative structure


Administrative structure of India

Members of the Zila Parishad are elected from the district on the basis of adult franchise for a term of five years. Zila Parishad has minimum of 50 and maximum of 75 members. There are seats reserved for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, backward classes and women. These Councillors chosen by direct election from electoral divisions in the District.

The Chairmen of all the Panchayat Samitis under the district are the Ex-Officio members of Zilla Parishad. The Parishad is headed by a President and a Vice-President.

The Deputy Chief Executive Officer from General Administration department at district level is ex-Officio Secretary of Zilla Parishad.

The Chief Executive Officer, who is a IAS Officer or Senior State Service Officer heads the administrative set up of the Zilla Parishad. He supervises the divisions of the Parishad and is assisted by Deputy CEOs and other Officials at district and block level officers.

Administrative structure

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO), who is an IAS or an State Civil Service officer, heads the administrative machinery of the Zila Parishad. He may also be District Magistrate in some states. The CEO supervises the divisions of the Parishad and executes its development schemes.


Provide essential services and facilities to the rural population and the planning and execution of the development programmes for the district.

  1. Supply improved seeds to farmers. Inform them of new techniques of training. Undertake construction of small-scale irrigation projects and percolation tanks. Maintain pastures and grazing lands.
  2. Set up and run schools in villages. Execute programmes for adult literacy. Run libraries.
  3. Start Primary Health Centres and hospitals in villages. Start vaccination drives against epidemics and family welfare campaigns.
  4. Construct bridges and roads.
  5. Execute plans for the development of the scheduled castes and tribes. Run ashramshalas for adivasi children. Set up free hostels for scheduled caste students.
  6. Encourage entrepreneurs to start small-scale industries likecottage industries, handicraft, agriculture produce processing mills, dairy farms, etc. Implement rural employment schemes.
  7. They even supply work for the poor people.(tribes,scheduled caste,lower caste)

Sources of income

Taxes on water, pilgrimage, markets, etc.

  1. Fixed grant from the State Government in proportion with the land revenue and money for works and schemes assigned to the Parishad.
  2. The Zila Parishad can collect some money from the panchayats with the approval of the government.
  3. It gets a share from the income from local taxes.

Panchayat Samiti (Block)


Mandalstaluka panchayatsblock panchayats, or panchayat samiti are panchayats at the intermediate level in panchayat raj institutions (or PRIs).
The 73rd Amendment is about rural local governments (which are also known as Panchayati Raj Institutions or PRIs):

  • Panchayat at district (or apex) level
  • Panchayat at intermediate level
  • Panchayat at base level

It is a rural local government body at the tahsil (taluka) level in India. It works for the villages of the tahsil that together are called a development block. The Panchayat Samiti is the link between the gram panchayat (village council) and the zila parishad (district board). There are a number of variations in the name of this institution in the various states. For example, it is known as Mandal Praja Parishad inAndhra Pradesh, Taluka Panchayat in Gujarat, and Taluk Panchayat in Karnataka.


  • 1Composition
    • 1Composition of mandal parishads
  • 2Departments
  • 3Functions
  • 4Sources of income


Administrative structure of India

Typically, a panchayat samiti is composed of elected members of the area, and the Block Development Officer, otherwise unrepresented members (representatives of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and women), associate members (such as a farmer of the area, a representative of the cooperative societies, and one from the agricultural marketing services sector), and the elected members of that panchayat block (tehsil) on the zila parishad (district board). The samiti is elected for five years and is headed by a chairman and deputy chairman elected by the members of the panchayat samiti. There is also one Sarpanch Samiti for the supervision of the other grampanchayats.

Composition of mandal parishads

A Mandal Parishad is constituted for a revenue Mandal, as such, both the Mandal Parishads and the revenue Mandals are coterminous. A mandal Parishad is composed of the following members:

Mandal Parishad Territorial constituency members. Members of the Legislative Assembly having jurisdiction over the Mandal. Members of the House of people having jurisdiction over the Mandal. Members of the council of States who are voters in the Mandal. One co-opted member, belonging to minorities. The Mandal Parishad Territorial constituency (MPTC) members are directly elected by the voters, whereas, the Mandal President is elected by the MPTC members. The members are elected for a term of five year. The elections to MPTC s is done on political party basis. The elections are conducted by the State election commission.

The Sarpanches of the Villages in the Mandal are permanent invitees to the Mandal Parishad meetings.


The most common departments found in a panchayat samiti are:

  1. Administration
  2. Finance
  3. Public works (especially water and roads)
  4. Agriculture
  5. Health
  6. Education
  7. Social welfare
  8. Information Technology
  9. Women & Child Development
  10. Panchayat raj ( Mandal Praja Parishad )

Each department in a panchayat samiti has its own officer, most often these are state government employees acting as extension officers, but occasionally in more revenue-rich panchayat samiti, these may be local employees. A government appointed block development officer (BDO) is the supervisor of the extension officers, and executive officer to the panchayat samiti and becomes, in effect, its administrative chief over all operations.


Panchayat Samiti collects all the prospective plans prepared at Gram Panchayat level and processes them for funding and implementation by evaluating them from the angles of financial constraints, social welfare and area development. It also identifies and prioritize the issues which needs to be addressed at block level.

Sources of income

The income of the panchayat samiti comes from three sources: taxes levied upon land and water usage, professional taxes, liquor taxes and others

  1. income generating programmes
  2. grants-in-aid and loans from the State Government and the local zila parishad
  3. voluntary contributions

For many of the panchayat samiti the main source of income becomes state aid. For others, the traditional taxing function provides the bulk of revenues. Tax revenues are often shared between the gram panchayats and the panchayat samiti. currant lights

  1. taxis of janaprtinidi

Nyaya panchayat

Nyaya Panchayat is a system of dispute resolution at village level in India. nyaya panchayats can be endowed with functions based on broad principles of natural justice and can tend to remain proceedurally as simple as possible. They can be given civil and minor crminal jurisdiction. But they should never follow civil and criminal procedure code in toto.


  • 1Brief history
  • 2Current movements
  • 3Constitutional support for nyaya panchayat
  • 4114th law commission report
  • 5Judicial backlog
  • 6Other reasons
  • 7State-level reforms

Brief history

The earliest nyaya panchayats were the village courts established under the Village Courts Act of 1888. The Royal Commission on Decentralisation of 1909, recommended of revival of nyaya panchayats having both civil and criminal jurisdiction in petty cases arising within the village. In May 1915, by a resolution passed by the Government of India, the matters regarding the establishmentof nyaya panchayat was left to the State Government. In 1920, Bombay Village Panchayat Act was passed and that resulted in the conduct of a series of panchayat adalats. But select committee of the legislative council opposed the investing of judicial powers on panchayats. In 1933, a village bench consisting of elected members and outsiders were created as per provisions of the Bombay Village Panchayat Act in Bombay. Since independence, almost all States enforced Village Panchayat Acts as guided by the directive principles and have resulted in the creation of statutory nyaya panchayat legislation. The village Panchayat and nyaya panchayat existed as dual entities in order to have separation of judiciary from the executive.

Current movements

Legislation to formalise these bodies and bring them within the ambit of organised justice in India was planned as part of the Panchayati Raj reforms of Rajiv Gandhi in the 1980s, but was put on hold to coincide with broader reform of the justice system, which was never carried out. Following the victory of the Congress Party-led United Progressive Alliancein the 2004 General Elections, the National Advisory Council advised the Government of India to introduce legislation. To draft legislation in this regard a drafting committee, under the chairmanship of Professor Upendra Baxi, has been formed by the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, Government of India. The bill on the issue is proposed to be debated in the winter session of the Indian Parliament.

Constitutional support for nyaya panchayat

Since a forum for the resolution of disputes with the participation of people in local justice administration is the goal envisaged by Article 39A of the Constitution of India, it is strongly felt by some jurists and social scientists that it is incumbent on the government to take immediate steps to activate nyaya panchayats, given that it might not be possible to render access justice in rural areas simpler and quicker. It is also argued that nyaya panchayats guided by local traditions, culture and behavioral pattern of the village community instill confidence in the people towards the administration of justice.

114th law commission report

The Law Commission, in its  August 1986 (Chapter V para. 5.3) indicating that nyaya panchayats made precisely this point, observing that “Article 39A of the Constitution of India directs the State to secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice, on a basis of equal opportunity, and shall, in particular provide free legal aid, by suitable legislation or schemes or in any other way, to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by economic or other disabilities. This is the constitutional imperative. Denial of justice on the grounds of economic and other disabilities is in nutshell referred to what has been known as problematic access to law. The Constitution now commands us to remove impediments to access to justice in a systematic manner. All agencies of the Government are now under a fundamental obligation to enhance access to justice. Article 40 which directs the State to take steps to organize village panchayats and endow them with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as units of self-government, has to be appreciated afresh in the light of the mandate of the new article 39A.”the law evensays that there should not be khap panchayat

Judicial backlog

With a rapid increase in the number of people approaching the courts, the primary concern faced by the Judiciary is the escalation in the amount of new cases coming in and an ever increasing backlog, which seems to have assumed insurmountable propositions making access to justice to the public at large a far delayed and long drawn process. There are more than three crore cases pending before the various courts of India as stated by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India.

Other reasons

The following considerations seem to have prompted the Law Commission and the Study Team on nyaya panchayats to recommend the revitalisation of nyaya panchayats: (The Law Commission, Fourteenth Report and the Report of the Study Team on nyaya panchayats extracted from an article written by K.N. Chandrasekharan Pillai titled “Criminal Jurisdiction of nyaya panchayats” Journal of the Indian Law Institute Vol. 19, October–December, 1977 p. 443)

  1. They would dispose of a large number of cases and thus relieve the burden of regular courts.
  2. They would succeed in getting a large number of cases compromised through peaceful conciliation.
  3. The villagers in general would be satisfied with the administration of justice obtaining in village or panchayat courts and that the decisions of these courts on the whole would do substantial justice.
  4. Appeals and revisions from these decisions would be small in number.
  5. There should be speedy and cheap disposal of cases.
  6. The litigants and witnesses who are mostly agriculturists can conveniently attend the courts and thus there would be no interference with agricultural activities in the village.
  7. The panchayat could bring justice nearer to the villager without involving the expenditure which would otherwise have to be incurred in establishing regular courts.
  8. Panchayat would have an educative value.
  9. Local courts acquainted with the customs of the neighborhood and nuances of the local idiom are better able to understand why certain things are said or done.
  10. An institution nearer to the people holds out greater opportunities for settlement and a decision taken by it does not leave behind that trial of bitterness which generally follows in the wake of litigation in ordinary courts.
  11. There are better chances of conciliatory method of approach in nyaya panchayats.
  12. People in a village are so closely known to each other that the parties to a dispute would not be able to conceal or produce false evidence easily and those who tell lies before the nyaya panchayat face the risk of being looked down upon and even boycotted by others.
  13. Panchas being drawn from among simple village folk strive at decisions which are fair and at the same time consistent with the peculiar conditions of the parties.

Hon’ble Justice S.B Sinha, Judge Supreme Court of India, emphasizing the importance of nyaya panchayats in a lecture delivered to District Judges observed that, “There is also a need to deliberate on the methodologies to be adopted for encouraging justice dispensation through the traditional forum of Panchayats. This age-old institution has found new vigour with the introduction of the 73rd Amendment to the Constitution, and most accordingly to be considered another pillar in the edifice that symbolizes justice. Strengthening the institution of Panchayats and empowering people at the grass-root level to resolve their disputes amicably would solve many of the problems that is faced by conventional justice dispensation machinery in its attempts to percolate to the lowest levels. This would provide a, solution to the problems of access to those living in remote regions.”

State-level reforms

Certain states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have already made provisions for establishing Village courts.

Municipal corporation


municipal corporation is the legal term for a local governing body, including (but not necessarily limited to) cities, counties, towns, townships, charter townships, villages, andboroughs.

Municipal incorporation occurs when such municipalities become self-governing entities under the laws of the state or province in which they are located. Often, this event is marked by the award or declaration of a municipal charter.

With the notable exceptions of the City of London Corporation and the Laugharne Corporation, the term has fallen out of favour in the United Kingdom, but the concept remains central to local government in the United Kingdom, as well as former British colonies such as Canada and India.


  • 1Municipal charters
  • 2By country
    • 1Bangladesh
    • 2Brazil
    • 3Canada
    • 4Germany
    • 5India
    • 6Ireland
    • 7South Africa
    • 8Sweden
    • 9Pakistan
    • 10Philippines
    • 11United Kingdom
    • 12United States

Municipal charters

city charter or town charter (generically, municipal charter) is a legal document establishing a municipality such as a city or town. The concept developed in Europe during the middle ages and is considered to be a municipal version of a constitution.

Traditionally the granting of a charter gave a settlement and its inhabitants the right to town privileges under the feudal system. Townspeople who lived in chartered towns wereburghers, as opposed to serfs who lived in villages. Towns were often “free”, in the sense that they were directly protected by the king or emperor, and were not part of a feudalfief. Today the process for granting charters is determined by the type of government of the state in question. In monarchies, charters are still often a royal charter given by the Crownor the state authorities acting on behalf of the Crown. In federations, the granting of charters may be within the jurisdiction of the lower level of government such as a state orprovince.

By country


List of Municipal Corporations of Bangladesh

Dhaka City Corporation Building

In Bangladesh, many cities are governed by city corporations, having mayoral elections, including Dhaka South, Dhaka North, Chittagong,Khulna, Sylhet, Rajshahi, Barisal, Narayanganj, Rangpur, Comilla and Gazipur. Other major towns are governed by municipal corporations, headed by an elected mayor including Mymensingh, Tangail, Jessore, Bogra, Pabna, Kushtia, Rangamati, Cox’s Bazar and others.



In Brazil, municipal corporations are called municípios and are created by means of local legislation at the state level, or after passing areferendum vote of the affected population. All municipal corporations must also abide by an organic municipal law which is passed and amended (when needed) at the municipal level.




Municipal government in Canada

In Canada charters are granted by provincial authorities.


In Germany, municipal corporations existed since antiquity and through medieval times, until they became out of favour during the absolutism. In order to strengthen the public spirit, the city law of Prussia dated 19 November 1808 picked up this concept. It is the basis of today’s municipal law.



Municipal Corporations in India

Chennai Corporation headquarters

Municipal Corporation Building, Mumbai

Municipal Corporation of DelhiHeadquarters

In India, a Municipal Corporation is an administering local government body, generally for cities of population 300,000 or more. This standard varies from state to state, according to laws passed by state legislatures (Vidhan Sabha). Established by an act of a Vidhan Sabha a Municipal Corporation can be established independently, or a Municipality (Nagar Palika) can be elevated to the Corporation level when it reaches the deignated population level. The Corporation of Chennai was the first Municipal Corporation in India. It was established on 29 September 1688 by the British East India Company, via a Royal Charter of King James II of England. The second was Hyderabad Muncipal Corporation established in 1869 by the Nizam rulers of Hyderabad State. The third was the Calcutta Municipal Corporation(later Kolkata Municipal Corporation), established in 1876. The Bombay Municipal Corporation was established in 1888 by the Bombay Municipal Corporation Act. The Delhi Municipal Council was established in 1911 during the Delhi Durbar when New Delhi was proclaimed to be the new Capital of India, replacing Calcutta. It was elevated to Municipal Corporation level on 7 April 1958 by an Act of Parliament which established the Municipal Corporation of Delhi.

In different states of India a Municipal Corporation is called by different names, all of which are translated to “Municipal Corporation” in English. These names include Nagar Nigam in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, and Haryana; Mahanagar Palika in Maharashtra,Goa, and Karnataka; Pouro Nigom in West Bengal; Pur Porishod in Tripura; and Nagar Palika Nigam in Madhya Pradesh. The detailed structure of these urban bodies varies from state to state, as per the laws passed by he state legislature(Vidhan Sabha) but the basic structure and function is almost the same. Under the panchayati raj system, it interacts directly with the state government, though it is administratively part of the district it is located in. The largest Municipal Corporations in India currently are Mumbai, followed by Delhi,Kolkata, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Surat and Pune.

The Corporation of Chennai is the oldest Municipal Corporation in the world outside UK. The Municipal Corporation consists of members elected from the wards of the city. The Mayor and Deputy Mayor are elected by the public. A Municipal Commissioner, who is from the Indian Administrative Service is appointed to head the administrative staff of the Municipal Corporation, implement the decisions of the Corporation and prepare its annual budget.

The Municipal Corporation is responsible for roads, public transportation, water supply, records of births and deaths (delegated from central government Births and Deaths Registration Act), sanitation (including waste management, sewage, drainage and flood control), public safety services like fire and ambulance services, gardens, and maintenance of buildings. The sources of income of the Corporation are property tax, entertainment tax, octroi (now abolished from many cities) and usage fees for utilities.


The title “corporation” was used in boroughs from soon after the Norman conquest until the Local Government Act 2001. Under the 2001 act, county boroughs were renamed “cities” and their corporations became “city councils”; other borough corporations were renamed “borough councils”.Prior to 2001 “city council” or “borough council” referred only to the elected councillors as an assembly, while the “corporation” was the corporate body over which the council presided.

In the Lordship of Ireland, settlements were granted charters by the English king, and at first also by powerful local magnates. Later charters established a council whose head was styled the mayorsovereign, or provost. Dublin Corporation existed from the 13th century and from 1840 was officially styled

the Right Honourable the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and Burgesses of the City of Dublin

In Tudor and Stuart Ireland, numerous corporations were established for parliamentary boroughs in the Irish House of Commons, many of which were pocket boroughs where the corporation’s burgesses were controlled by a single patron. City status and corporate county status were given to a few boroughs. The Acts of Union 1800 disfranchised all but 35 boroughs and the Municipal Corporations (Ireland) Act 1840 abolished all but ten and their corporations. Town commissioners took over municipal government in other towns. Some commissioners had the right to petition for restoration of borough status and redesignation as a corporation, but only Wexford did so. Under the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898, the larger boroughs became county boroughs with the corporation equivalent to a county council; smaller boroughs had the status of urban districts within a county, with corporations equivalent to urban district councils.

After the Partition of Ireland, the corporations in the Irish Free State were Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford (county boroughs) and Drogheda, Kilkenny, Sligo, Clonmel, and Wexford (non-county boroughs). Dún Laoghaire gained borough status in 1930 as “The Corporation of Dun Laoghaire”. Galway’s borough status, lost in 1840, was restored in 1937; it was formally styled “the Mayor, Aldermen and Burgesses of the Borough of Galway”, but referred to as “the Corporation”.

In Northern Ireland, borough corporations and urban and rural district councils were abolished by the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 1972, as were the county councils; both levels of local government were replaced with unitary districts.

South Africa

The municipality of Durban was called the Durban Corporation.


In Sweden until 1951, cities were established by royal charter; see City status in Sweden.



Karachi Municipal Corporation Building, Now Metropolitan Corporation

In Pakistan, Municipal Corporation is a local government body status which is granted to the cities with population more than half a million. The old Municipal Corporations are Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad, Hyderabad, Rawalpindi, Peshawar, Multan, Quetta, Gujranwala,Sargodha, Bahawalpur and Sialkot. In 2011, Karachi Municipal Corporation was upgraded to Metropolitan Corporation.


Cities of the Philippines

From the beginning of American colonial rule, Philippines cities were formally established through laws enacted by the various national legislatures in the country. The Philippine Commission gave the city of Manila its charter in 1901, while the city of Baguio was established by the Philippine Assembly which was composed by elected members instead of appointed ones. During the Commonwealth era, theNational Assembly established an additional ten cities. Since achieving independence from the United States in 1946 the Philippine Congress has established 124 more cities (as of September 2007), the majority of which required the holding of a plebiscite within the proposed city’s jurisdiction to ratify the city’s charter.

United Kingdom

In England and Wales corporations developed in the medieval period as the governing bodies of boroughs. They were generally incorporated by royal charter, with the power to hold property, and were headed by a mayor. They were reformed by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835, which established a system of municipal boroughs governed by corporations. In 1889 larger boroughs became county boroughs, also governed by corporations. The term corporation largely fell out of use in the reforms introduced by theLocal Government Act 1972. Municipal boroughs and county boroughs were replaced by metropolitan and non-metropolitan districts (some of which were given the status ofborough or city). The governing bodies of the new districts were known as councils, rather than corporations.

In Scotland the term corporation was used for the governing bodies of counties of cities, but as in England and Wales the term fell out of use in the reforms introduced by theLocal Government (Scotland) Act 1973.

United States.

Local government in the United States

In the United States, such municipal corporations are established by charters that are granted either directly by a state legislature by means of local legislation, or indirectly under a general municipal corporation law, usually after the proposed charter has passed a referendum vote of the affected population.