Soon after the first ‘permanent’
house of Shimla was built in 1822, some forms of civic governance began
emerging. The first set of these measures were connected with policing. Then,
in the 1830s, when William Bentinck, the British Governor-General was to visit
Shimla, arrangements were made to handle the water sources so that he and his
entourage would not be inconvenienced.
These informal arrangements gave way
to the constitution of the Shimla Municipal Committee in December, 1851 making
this the oldest municipality in pre-Independence Punjab. This was done under
the provisions of Act XXVI of 1850. Given the small size and population of
Shimla at the time, it also was one of the richest.
Initially, all Municipal
Commissioners were appointed Government officials. Then, the first elections
were held on August 26, 1855; this followed the first meeting of the Committee
comprising the Deputy Commissioner, the Senior Assistant Commissioner, the
Medical Officer and an Executive Engineer – as well as representatives of the
Shimla House Proprietors Association. The Shimla Municipal Committee was
declared as Class I Municipality on July 31, 1871. In 1874, it was brought
under the Punjab Municipal Act IV of 1873, but there were objections to this
constitution. In 1884, with the introduction of the Punjab Municipal Act, XIII
of 1884, the town was divided into two wards for the purposes of elections –
the Station Ward and the Bazaar Ward.
After Independence, adult franchise
was adopted for local bodies and Shimla was divided into fourteen single member
wards and one double member ward. The elections of 1953 and 1960 were held on
this basis. In 1962, in keeping with the town’s expanded population, the number
of wards was increased to nineteen. A year earlier, four of the Government’s
Officers were appointed as Advisors to the Municipal Committee, these were the
Civil Surgeon, two Executive Engineers and the Station Staff Officer. Elections
scheduled for 1963 did not take place and in 1966, the Punjab Government
superseded the Committee. A court order reinstated the Committee in 1967;
however fresh elections were not held as the Capital of Himachal Pradesh
(Development and Regulations) Act, 1968, was passed and the Committee was
converted into a corporation, totally manned by nominated members.
Subsequently, in 1986, elections were again held.
Shimla Municipal Corporation has an elected Mayor and Councillors and a
Commissioner along with other officials.