December 30, 2021 5:48:19 am
Chandigarh Mayor, a post that BJP, Congress and AAP are fighting to grab, has no administrative power after all. The post comes without any power to implement changes.
While there have been several discussions in the past regarding the post of the Chandigarh mayor, it continues to remain ‘powerless’. The executive or administrative powers in Chandigarh Municipal Corporation (MC) lie with the Commissioner. A Commissioner of the MC, who is a Punjab cadre officer, has administrative power.
The powers and functions of the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh are governed by the provisions of the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act, as applicable to Chandigarh.
It clearly states, “Under Section 52, the executive powers vest in the Commissioner who exercises all the powers and performs all the duties conferred or imposed upon him by the Act. The Commissioner also prescribes the duties of and exercise supervision and control over the acts and proceedings of all Corporation officers and other employees and dispose of all questions relating to the services of the said officers including the conditions of service. The ACR of any Corporation official is written by the Commissioner. The act provides no provision for the Mayor to write the ACR of the Corporation officers.”
It is also clearly said that a Commissioner shall exercise all the powers and perform all duties specifically conferred or imposed upon him by this Act or by any other law for the time being enforced.
Furthermore, is the Commissioner, not the Mayor, who also has the powers to, from time to time during the year, reduce the amount of a budget-grant, or sanction the transfer of any amount within a budget-grant.
Powers of a Mayor
A Mayor in Chandigarh has a one year term. As the house is elected for five years, for the Mayor’s selection from amongst the elected councillors, in the first year, Mayor is from General Female category, General Male category, SC, General Female and General Male.
The only power the Mayor has is to regulate the house meetings. The Mayor has powers to reject and include the agendas in the house meeting sent in by the officers.
It is the Mayor who chairs the house meeting and also has powers to disallow any question which is, in his opinion, in contravention of the provisions of sub-section (3) of the act.
The Act states that unless otherwise directed by the Mayor or the presiding officer of the meeting, every question shall be answered by the Commissioner at a meeting.
The Mayor is entitled to the payment of such honorarium and may be given such facilities in respect of residential accommodation, telephone, conveyance.
At the same time, the Mayor has access to the record of the Corporation and may issue directions to the Commissioner or call for reports from him to ensure proper implementation of the decision of the Corporation. However, he has no further powers on it and can only recommend his views.
Mayor also has discretionary powers to spend Rs two crore of funds anywhere in the city. In the past, this power has been used by mayors in their favourite councillor wards.
Government has powers to dissolve the MC
The act also states that if in the opinion of the Government (Chandigarh administration) a Corporation is not competent to perform its duties, the Government may dissolve such a Corporation. However, the Corporation shall be given a reasonable opportunity of being heard before its dissolution.
Powers of a councillor
A councillor in Chandigarh is elected for five years from their ward. They have to represent their ward in the general house. No powers vest with a councillor; to get their agenda item put forth in the house for discussion, they have to request the officers to do so. A letter is written to the Chief Engineer who then gets a technical vetting done as per policy. The agenda is then sent to Secretary and the Commissioner, who have powers to see if the agenda item should be taken up not. Only after vetting by Commissioner is it sent to the Mayor to inform him about the prospective agenda items. Here, the Mayor has the power to reject agendas they do not consider important for discussion in the forthcoming meeting.
Councillors in the general house meeting usually raise the issue of their agendas being ignored frequently.
However, a councillor gets ward development funds of Rs 40 lakh every year, which has now been increased to Rs 80 lakh. They have discretionary powers to spend the ward development fund anywhere in their ward. However, here again, Commissioner has powers to withhold certain funds for a certain period, in the interest of the Corporation.
In 2020 and before that as well, when the civic body was facing a financial crunch, the Commissioner had directed officials to only release Rs 20 lakh each to the councillors.
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