A municipal corporation is the legal term for a local governing body, including (but not necessarily limited to) cities, counties, towns, townships, charter townships, villages, and boroughs. 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.
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 Canada charters are granted by provincial authorities.
In India a Municipal Corporation is a local government body that administers a city of population 200,000 or more. 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 and Chennai.
The Municipal Corporation consists of members elected from the wards of the city. The Mayor and Deputy Mayor are elected by the members among themselves. 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 water supply, records of births and deaths (delegated from Central Govt Birth and Death Registration Act), drainage, sewage removal, fire brigade service, gardens and maintenance of buildings. The sources of income of the Corporation are taxes on water, house-tax, entertainment tax and octroi (now abolished from many cities).
Since 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, the National 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.
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.