Deputy Commissioner or Collector-cum-District Magistrate is an union civil service officer of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) cadre, or the State Civil Service (SCS) cadre, who is responsible for general administration of all aspects of Governance and economy, revenue collection, canal revenue collection and law & order maintenance of a District in addition to many other important roles. The post of Deputy Commissioner is a highly acclaimed post with high prestige among the people throughout India. In fact, according to some states' Warrant of Precedence, the DCs are kept at the 12th Article of Warrant alongside (but higher at the same article than) Brigadier or equivalent ranks in the armed forces, DIGs of police and District and Sessions judges within their jurisdiction. The Collector cum District Magistrate comes under the general supervision of divisional commissioners wherever the latter post exists. India has 748 districts as of 2021. Senior officers from state civil services can also be appointed as DC or DM. Generally, an IAS Officer becomes DC or DM after 5/6 years of his service. However, state public service officers in general takes minimum 15 years to 18 years (varies from State to State) to become DM or DC.
|Deputy Commissioner or District Collector (DC) cum District Magistrate (DM)|
|District collectorate of Eluru district Andhra|
|Seat||Collectorate at the district headquarters.|
In terms of seniority and general power-of-the-post level in State Civil Services (SCS) and State Police Services (SPS) between the DC and Superintendent of Police (SP) in a District, the DC is a higher ranked post than the SP as is evidenced by their seniority grades and grade pay - SPs are generally Junior Administrative Grade ranked officers while DCs are generally Selection Grade and Supertime Grade B officers. It may also be mentioned that while the DCs domain covers all aspects of polity and economy including law and order and police administration at the Department level while the SPs domain is limited to Police business only. In terms of grade pay, SCS officers who may be posted as DC are in the grade pay of Level 13 and 13A while SPS officers who may be posted as SPs of a district are in the grade pay of Level 12.
The seat of the District Collector/District Magistrate in India is usually located in the district headquarters, which is the administrative center of the district. The District Collector's office is commonly referred to as the Collector's Office or the District Collectorate or DC Office, etc.
Deputy Commissioner (DC) is a post that is primarily used in the states of Assam, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, and Karnataka in India. The role of a Deputy Commissioner is similar to that of a District Collector in other states of India.
In these states, the Deputy Commissioner is responsible for the overall administration of the district and has a wide range of responsibilities.
The current district administration in India is a legacy of the British Raj, with the Collector cum District Magistrate being the chief administrative officer of the District.
Warren Hastings introduced the office of the District Collector in the Judicial Plan of 1772. By the Judicial Plan of 1774, the office of the Collector cum District Magistrate was temporarily renamed Diwan or Amil. The term Collector was brought back under the Judicial Plan of 1787. The name, Collector, derived from the holder being the head of the revenue organization (tax collection) for the district. With the passage of the Government of India Act 1858, by the British Parliament. The designation of Collector cum District Magistrate is held by any central civil servant who is a member of the Indian Administrative Service cadre and were charged with supervising general administration in the district.
Sir George Campbell, lieutenant-governor of Bengal from 1871 to 1874, intended "to render the heads of districts no longer the drudges of many departments and masters of none, but in fact the general controlling authority over all departments in each district."
The office of a collector during the British Raj held multiple responsibilities – as collector, he was the head of the revenue organization, charged with registration, alteration, and partition of holdings; the settlement of disputes; the management of indebted estates; loans to agriculturists, and famine relief. As district magistrate, he exercised general supervision over the inferior courts and in particular, directed the police work. The office was meant to achieve the "peculiar purpose" of collecting revenue and of keeping the peace. The superintendent of police (SP), inspector general of jails, the surgeon general, the divisional forest officer (DFO) and the Executive Engineer PWD (EE) had to inform the collector of every activity in their departments.
Until the later part of the nineteenth century, no native was eligible to become a district collector. But with the introduction of open competitive examinations for the Indian Civil Service, the office was opened to natives. Romesh Chandra Dutt, Sripad Babaji Thakur, Anandaram Baruah, Krishna Govinda Gupta and Brajendranath De were the first five Indian ICS officers to become Collectors.
The district continued to be the unit of administration after India gained independence in 1947. The role of the district collector remained largely unchanged, except for the separation of most judicial powers to judicial officers of the district. Later, with the promulgation of the National Extension Services and Community Development Programme by the Nehru government in 1952, the district collector was entrusted with the additional responsibility of implementing the Government of India's development programs in the district.
This role, as per the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), encompasses executive magisterial functions and is held by officers in charge of district administration across the country. While the nomenclature or designation of the chief executive of a district may vary from state to state, it is commonly known as the District Collector in South Indian states, the District Magistrate in North Indian states, and the Deputy Commissioner in states such as Punjab, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Assam, Mizoram, etc.
The different names of the office are a legacy of the varying administration systems in British India. While the powers exercised by the officer were mostly the same throughout the country, the preferred name often reflected his primary role in the particular province. In the Bengal Presidency, the post was called District Magistrate and Collector whereas in the Bombay Presidency and Central Provinces, it was known simply as the District Collector even though he was also the District Magistrate. In the Madras Presidency, it was often known simply as Collector.
Law and order was an important subject in the United Provinces and the post continues to be known as the District Magistrate in present-day Uttar Pradesh. In non-regulation provinces like Punjab, Burma, Assam and Oudh, a simpler form of administration prevailed with many elements of the Criminal Procedure Code suspended and the DM functioning as the District and Sessions Judge as well. Here the post was known as Deputy Commissioner, due to these provinces having a Chief Commissioner who took the place of the usual Governor and High Court and exercised both executive and judicial functions.
Post Independence, the different names have continued even though the role and powers of the DM are almost the same throughout India.
- Deputy Commissioner (DC)- In India, some states use the term "Deputy Commissioner" instead of "District Magistrate" to refer to the head of the district administration. These states are Karnataka, Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi,Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Arunachal Pradesh, etc.
- District Collector (DC)- In India, some states use the term "District Collector" instead of "District Magistrate" to refer to the head of the district administration. These states include Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Maharashtra, Sikkim, Odisha, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Puducherry and Lakshadweep
- District Magistrate (DM)- some states use the term "District Magistrate" to refer to the head of the district administration. These states are Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Bihar,Chhattisgarh, etc.
Furthermore, the responsibilities and powers of the District Magistrate, Deputy Commissioner, and District Collector are almost the same, and they perform similar functions. They are responsible for the overall administration of the district, including law and order, revenue collection, and implementation of government schemes. They also act as the executive magistrate, responsible for maintaining law and order and ensuring the safety and security of the people.
The reason for the use of different terms in different states is historical, and it is based on the administrative setup and traditions of the respective states. However, despite the differences in terminology, the role and responsibilities of these officials are largely similar.
They are posted by the state government, from among the pool of Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and State Civil Services (SCS) officers, who either are on Level 11, Level 12 or Level 13 of the Pay Matrix, in the state. The members of the IAS are either directly recruited by the Union Public Service Commission, promoted from State Civil Service (SCS) or nominated from Non-State Civil Service (Non-SCS). The direct recruits are posted as Collectors after five to six years of service. SCS officers are also posted as Collectors when they attain at least the Selection Grade (Level 13 Grade Pay) in their service. A District Magistrate and Collector is transferred to and from the post by the state government. The office bearer is generally of the rank of Selection Grade or less commonly, Supertime B Grade in SCS which is an Additional Secretary, Joint Secretary, Director rank under State governments and under secretary/deputy secretary or director in Government of India.
At minimum, Deputy Commissioners across the country are given at least one Personal Security Officer (PSO) and residence protection by most commonly, a personnel of at least 5 Home Guards personnel who man their duty posts in circulation.
The District Magistrate is a position responsible for the administration of a district in India. This role, as per the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), encompasses executive magisterial functions and is held by officers in charge of district administration across the country. While the nomenclature of the head of a district may vary from state to state, it is commonly known as the District Collector in South Indian states, the District Magistrate in North Indian states, and the Deputy Commissioner in states such as Punjab, Haryana, and Kashmir.
Deputy Commissioners are entitled to various benefits -
Dr. Divya S. Iyer IAS, District Collector of Pathanamthitta, standing Infront of her official vehicle. Note the red designation plate reading "ജില്ലാ കലക്ടർ" (translation: District Collector) which is written in Malayalam. In Kerala , Toyota Innova, is the entitled official vehicle of DCs.
The District Collector is provided with an official vehicle, which is usually a government-owned car, along with a driver. The standard entitlement and issue of vehicles of a DC is two vehicles which is typically a sedan and an SUV and range typically from Scorpio S11 to Toyota Innova, and a sedan typically of Maruti Suzuki Ciaz or Hyundai Verna. These vehicles may be fitted with triangular red flags with text reading "DC" in their center or on their right side (driver side) like some states as Mizoram, or may have only black covered, arrowhead flag posts sometimes with the tricolor. These vehicles may also be fitted with red and blue lights and/or be fitted with two-way radio systems depending upon the states. Almost all states' vehicles will have a designation plate that reads "DC" or "Collector" or "DM" or similar in front of their vehicles.
The Collector/District Magistrate is provided with an official residence or bungalow and camp office within the district, which is usually maintained by the State Public Works Department (PWD).
Old collector's Bungalow, Tharangambadi
The District Collector/District Magistrate is provided with Personal Security Officers, including armed guards, to ensure their safety and protection.
The District Collector/District Magistrate is considered a high-ranking government official and enjoys a certain social status in the community.
Perks and AllowancesEdit
District Collectors are entitled to various perks and allowances, including medical benefits, travel allowances, and other perks based on their rank and seniority.
The District Collector/District Magistrate has personal staff, including a Personal Assistant (PA), a Secretary, and other support staff like clerks, peons, and drivers.
Functions and responsibilitiesEdit
The roles, functions and responsibilities of the DM is highly holistic in that all aspects of Governance and development, along with all departments at the district level are under their purview. This includes matters all the way from dealing with all Home department branches like prisons, Fire and Emergency Services, to matters like implementation of various schemes and programmes of the Government in a district. The responsibilities assigned to a district magistrate vary from state to state, but generally, Collectors, under the general supervision of divisional commissioners (where such a post exists), are entrusted with a wide range of duties in the jurisdiction of the district, generally involving the following:
As District MagistrateEdit
- Issuance of adoption orders under the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 with provision of appeal to divisional commissioners.
- Granting arms and ammunition licence under Arms Act with provision of appeal to divisional commissioners.
- Granting license to cinemas with provision of appeal to divisional commissioners.
- Heads the district disaster management authority constituted under the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
- Conducts criminal court of executive magistrate.
- Maintenance of law and order.
- Supervision of subordinate executive magistracy and conduct magisterial inquiries.
- Hearing cases under the preventive section of the Criminal Procedure Code.
- Supervision of jails and certification of execution of capital sentences.
- Inspection of police stations, prisons and juvenile homes in the district.
- Authorising parole orders to inmates.
- Prepares panel of names for appointment of public prosecutors and additional public prosecutors with consultation with session judge in district.
- Disaster management during natural calamities such as floods, famines or epidemics.
- Crisis management during riots or external aggression.
- Child Labour/bonded labour related matters.
As Deputy CommissionerEdit
- Co-ordination of development and public welfare activities in the district.
- Act as the chief liaison officer of the state government within the district.
As District CollectorEdit
- Conducts revenue court.
- Revenue administration of the district.
- Arbitrator of land acquisition, its assessment and collection of land revenue.
- Collection of income tax dues, excise duties, irrigation dues and its arrears.
- Registration of Property documents, sale deeds, power of attorneys, defacement, share certificates etc.
- Issue various kinds of statutory certificates including SC/ST, OBC & EWC, Domicile, Nationality, Marriage, etc.
- Relief and rehabilitation.
- Custodian of evacuee and migrant property
- Inspection of various district offices, sub divisions and tehsils.
- Appellate authority of revenue matters in the district.
- Head of land and revenue administration
- District head of the executive magistracy and overall supervision of law and order and security and chief protocol officer
- Licensing and Regulatory Authority (such as Arms Act)
- The conduct of elections
- Disaster management
- Public service delivery
- Chief Information and Grievance Redressal Officer
- Chairperson, Regional Transport Authority 
- Chairperson, District Road Safety Authority 
- Chairperson, District Tourism Promotion Council
- Chairperson, District Disaster Management Authority
- District Election Officer, Returning officer of parliament elections
- Chairperson, District Development Council (DDC)
Separation from judiciaryEdit
While almost all of the 741 Indian districts are headed by DMs, constitutional developments post Independence in 1947 have led to a reduction in power and realignment of roles for the District Magistrate. The first major change came about in the early 1960s as the Judiciary was separated from the Executive in most Indian states in line with Article 50 of the Constitution of India. This meant that DMs and SDMs could no longer try criminal cases or commit accused to Sessions Court. Their place was taken by Chief Judicial Magistrates and Sub Divisional Judicial Magistrates. The District Magistrate was now the main Executive Magistrate of the district - charged with taking preventive measures for maintenance of law and order. Indirectly, this led to a loss of direct control over the police which now depended on the District Judge and the Judicial Magistrates. This change was institutionalised by the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. In the Union Territories and the North Eastern states, Collectors continued to exercise judicial power for much longer. A separate district judiciary was not created till 1978 in Delhi, 2008 in Mizoram, 2016 in Arunachal Pradesh and 2020 in Meghalaya. South Garo Hills District in Meghalaya, the last remaining district of India with the District Magistrate also exercising judicial powers, finally got a separate District and Sessions Court on 17 December 2020.
Need of restructureEdit
The need to restructure the roles of the District Collector is essential for removing the colonial legacy, promoting uniformity, devolving power to local bodies, ensuring separation of power, mitigating power concentration, addressing status quoist tendencies, and advancing grass-root democracy.
Removal of the Colonial Legacy:Edit
The position of the District Collector in India is rooted in the colonial legacy of British rule. Restructuring the roles and functions of the District Collector is crucial to eliminating remnants of the colonial administrative structure and fostering a system that aligns with the principles of modern democratic governance.
Uniformity in Name of the Position:Edit
Across different states in India, the position of the District Collector is known by various names such as District Magistrate (DM) or Deputy Commissioner (DC). Introducing a uniform nomenclature for this role would enhance clarity and promote a standardized administrative framework that transcends regional variations.
Devolution of Power to Local Bodies:Edit
Restructuring the roles of the District Collector involves decentralizing power and devolving responsibilities to local bodies, as outlined in the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments. By strengthening local self-governance institutions such as Panchayats and Municipalities, power can be shifted to grassroots levels, enabling communities to participate in decision-making processes that directly impact their lives.
Ensure Effective Separation of Power:Edit
In many states, the District Collector also assumes the role of a revenue judge, which violates the principle of separation of power. Article 50 of the Indian Constitution emphasizes the need to separate the judiciary from the executive in public services. Restructuring the role of the District Collector should prioritize the effective separation of powers to safeguard the independence and impartiality of the judiciary.
Considerable Accumulation of Power:Edit
The District Collector holds substantial power, often resulting in the concentration of authority. This accumulation of power can hinder decentralized governance and impede the participatory decision-making process. Restructuring the role should focus on reducing power concentration and redistributing authority to various stakeholders, fostering greater accountability and inclusivity.
Status Quoist Tendencies:Edit
Civil servants, including District Collectors, may resist changes to their roles due to their attachment to established privileges and prospects. Overcoming status quoist tendencies is essential to adapt to evolving governance models and enhance the effectiveness of administrative systems. Encouraging dialogue and addressing concerns can help alleviate resistance to change.
Reluctance to Accept Changes in Grass-Root Democracy:Edit
Despite the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments, which aimed to promote grassroots democracy, civil servants have shown reluctance in accepting changes in authority and control. Restructuring the roles of District Collectors should involve comprehensive training and capacity-building programs to equip civil servants with the necessary skills to effectively handle decentralized governance.
The administrative structure inherited from the colonial era continues to influence governance practices in India.
Kolkata in West Bengal is unique in not having a conventional collector. A recently created post with the same name performs the functions of collector of stamp revenue, registration and certain other miscellaneous functions. The Magisterial powers are exercised by a Police Commissioner, one of the earliest such posts in British India, while the Kolkata Municipal Corporation takes care of all other responsibilities.
At the time of Partition of India, the Indian Civil Service was divided between India and Pakistan. The institution of the DC/DM remained the same in both the countries till the 2001 Devolution of Powers Scheme of President Pervez Musharraf abolished the post of the DM in Pakistan. He was replaced by an officer called the District Coordination Officer with significantly reduced powers. After 2016, almost all Pakistani provinces have reinstated the office of the DC but without the Magistracy powers which are now exercised by the Police and Judiciary. DCs in Bangladesh, however, continue to discharge their role with only minor changes in powers and authority since independence in 1971.
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