Dhaka Municipality was established on the Ist August, 1864. Prior to the establishment of the Municipality, a Committee of Improvement existed in the city as early as 1823. The Committee consisted of three members was headed by Mr. Walters, the then Collector of Dhaka. This Committee was replaced by another Committee named "Dhaka Committee" in 1840. with wider range of functions. This Committee too was appointed by the Government rather than constituted under any law and, as such, had no corporate entity of its own.
District Municipal improvement (Act III B.C. of 1864) was introduced in Dhaka from the 1st August, 1864.Through the introduction of this Act the "Dhaka Municipal Committee" was formed. The District Magistrate was ex-officio Chairman and such persons as the Lieutenant-Governor would appoint, were the Vice-Chairman. The Lt. Governor had power to appoint municipal Commissioners from among the inhabitants and their number was not to be less than seven. Five Commissioners constituted a quorum to transact business at meeting. Mr. Skinner, the then District Magistrate of Dhaka was the first ex-officio Chairman.
The Act of 1884 recognised for the first time the elective principle in unambiguous term. The Chairman, the Vice-Chairman and two thirds of the Commissioners were to be elected. The first elected Chairman was Mr. Ananda Chandra Roy and the first elected Vice-Chairman was Mr. Khawaja Amirullah. It may be noted that municipal administration in Dhaka was, in point of the acceptance of the elective principle, much ahead of the local self-government in the Sub-continent as a whole.
The next significant milestone was the Bengal Municipal Act of 1922. This Act extended franchise to women also who had so far been denied this right. The proportion of appointed commissioners was reduced from one-third to one-fifth. Reservation of seats for minority communities was provided for, the number of such seats being in proportion to the number of such a community to the total population of the municipality.
After the partition of India, Dhaka became the provincial capital of the then East Pakistan in 1947. The Dhaka Municipal Committee was superseded by the Govt. on the 19th of November, 1947. The reason for supersession was attributed to the inefficiencies in collection of texes development activities etc. The term of supersession was extended by annual orders on the score of non-preparation of electoral rolls, until 1953. In December, 1953, the elected Chairman took over his office and again in August, 1959, Municipality was superseded.
The Municipal Administration Ordinance of 1960 repealed all previous municipal laws and provided that the chairmen would be an official member appointed by and holding office during the pleasure of the Govt. The commissioners elected one of their members to be the Vice-Chairmen. The Government in 1960 divided the city area into 25 Unions, which were later enhanced by 30 Unions in 1964. The Chairmen of the Union Councils were the members of the Dhaka Municipality.
Dhaka became the capital of Bangladesh with the independence in the year 1971. City area was divided into 50 wards and election of Ward Commissioners was held in 1977 with the introduction of "Pourashava Ordinance, 1977". Ward Commissioners elected one of their members as the Chairman of the Municipality. In 1978, Dhaka Municipality was awarded the status of Corporation and the existing Chairman became the Mayor of the Corporation. Municipal corporation was superseded by the promulgation of Martial law in March, 1982. Two adjacent municipalities, namely Mirpur and Gulshan Municipalities were merged with Dhaka Municipality in the same year. As a result the number of wards increased to 56.
The corporation was statuted with the introduction of Dhaka Municipal Corporation Ordinance, 1993, repealing the application of Pourashava Ordinance, 1977. Later, number of wards was increased to 75 and Administrators/Mayors were appointed by the Govt. till 1994. In 1990, Dhaka Municipal Corporation was renamed as Dhaka City Corporation and was divided in to zones to fulfill the objectives of decentralization.
In 1993, the Government with a view to democratize the city corporation, made drastic amendment in Ordinance, 1983 and repealing the application of pourashava that the Mayor and the Commissioners will be elected by direct election on the basis of adult franchise. The City area is divided into 90 wards to represent one Commissioner, elected directly, form each ward. There are 18 reserved seats exclusively for women Commissioners who are elected by the Mayor and the Commissioners. The election of the Corporation was held n January, 1994 and Mr. Mohammad Hanif became the first elected Mayor.
The area of the City Corporation at present is about 360 Sq. KMs. And population within the Corporation area according to 1991 census was 33,97,187. The area of Dhaka Metropolitan City is nearly 1530 Sq. KMs and an estimated population of 9.3 million live in this city.
According to the existing law, the executive power of the Corporation vests in and exercised by the Mayor. The term of the elected body is five years. It meets at least once in a month for the transaction of business. The Corporation constitutes eight Standing Committees and other Committees to monitor and guide the diversified activities of the organization. The Mayor is assisted by the Chief Executive Officer, who in turn, is assisted by the Secretary, the Heads of Departments and Zonal Executive Officers. There are about 12,200 employees carrying out various duties catering to the civic needs of the people.