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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.
A 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 were burghers, 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 feudal fief.
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 Crown or 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 or province.
In Brazil, municipal corporations are called municípios and are created by means of local legislation at the state level, or after passing a referendum 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.
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.
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 Municipal 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. Hyderabad Municipal Corporation was the second oldest corporation In India, now Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation.
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 mayor, sovereign, or provost. Dublin Corporation existed from the 13th century and from 1840 was officially styled
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 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.
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- "Local Government Act, 2001". Irish Statute Book. p. §11(3),§11(4),Schedule 2. Retrieved 13 May 2014.
- "Local Government (Dublin) Act, 1930, Section 3". Irish Statute Book. Retrieved 13 May 2014.
- "Local Government (Galway) Act, 1937, Section 3". Irish Statute Book. Retrieved 13 May 2014.
- "Local Government (Galway) Act, 1937, Section 2". Irish Statute Book. Retrieved 13 May 2014.
- "Facts About Durban - Public Transport in Durban". Fad.co.za. Retrieved 2013-11-12.