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District magistrate

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District magistrate
District magistrate
since 1772
TypeExecutive Head of the district
StatusExecutive Officer of the District
Member ofIndian Administrative Service
State Civil Services
Reports toDivisional commissioner
AppointerPresident of India
Constituting instrumentCode of Criminal Procedure (India)
Formation1772 (252 years ago) (1772)
DeputyAdditional collector
Additional district magistrate
Additional deputy commissioner

The district magistrate, also known as the district collector or deputy commissioner, is a career civil servant[a][1] who serves as the executive head of a district's administration in India. The specific name depends on the state or union territory. Each of these posts has distinct responsibilities, and an officer can assume all of these roles at once. The district magistrate is primarily responsible for maintaining law and order, while the district collector focuses on revenue administration, and the deputy commissioner is in charge of overseeing developmental activities and coordinates government departments. Additionally, they also serve as election officers, registrar, marriage officer, licensing authority, and managing disaster responses, among other things. While the specific scope of duties may vary from state to state, they are generally similar.[2][3] The district magistrate comes under the general supervision of divisional commissioner.


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,[4][5] by the British Parliament.[6]

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."[7][8][9]

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.[10] 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.[7][8][9]

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.[7][8][9]

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.[7][8][9][11]


A bilingual signboard of District Magistrate (DM) office in New Delhi

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.


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.[12]

Personal Staff[edit]

The District Collector/District Magistrate is provided with Personal Security Officers, including armed guards, to ensure their safety and protection.[13][14]

The District Collector/District Magistrate has personal staff, including a Personal Assistant (PA), a Secretary, and other support staff like clerks, peons, and drivers.[15]

Functions and responsibilities[edit]

The District Collector holds a diverse range of responsibilities that are defined under various laws and regulations, including the Land Revenue Act, Revenue recovery rules, Land acquisition act, Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), the Arms Act, 1959, The Cinematograph Act, Registration Act, peoples representation act, and other relevant acts. They are entrusted with land revenue administration, maintaining law and order, managing district administration, and implementing government policies and also they are incharge of various state and central government schemes and projects at district level. 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),[16][17] are entrusted with a wide range of duties in the jurisdiction of the district, generally involving the following:[7][8][9][18][19][20][21][22][23][24]

As District Magistrate[edit]

  • The District Magistrate acts as the primary executive magistrate of the district. Their main responsibility is to take preventive measures to maintain law and order and maintain peace in the district.
  • Issuance of adoption orders under the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 with provision of appeal to divisional commissioners.[25]
  • The district Magistrate has the authority to issue orders under Section 144 of the CrPC, restricting the assembly of people to prevent potential disturbances.
  • Under the National Security Act (NSA), the district magistrate has the authority to order preventive detention of individuals to prevent them from acting in any manner prejudicial to the security of the state or maintenance of public order.[26]
  • Granting and renewing arms and ammunition licence under Arms Act with provision of appeal to divisional commissioners.[27]
  • Granting license to cinemas under Cinematograph Act, 1952 with provision of appeal to divisional commissioners.
  • Heads the district disaster management authority constituted under the Disaster Management Act, 2005.[28]
  • Enforcement of various provisions of Indian Telegraph Act, 1885
  • Implementation of provisions of Maintenance & welfare of parents & senior citizens act, 2007
  • Enforcement of mines act, 1952
  • Supervision of jails in the district.
  • Supervises all Executive Magistrates in the district and has very limited control over police.

As District Collector[edit]

  • District Collector is the highest officer of revenue department in the district. The collector is the highest authority of revenue administration.
  • Responsible for collecting land revenue, government taxes, fees, and all dues recoverable as arrears of land revenue.
  • Responsible for land acquisition, revenue recovery, land reforms, and other land related matters.
  • Ensures accurate and up-to-date records of land rights.Implements land reforms and exercises power as the land acquisition officer.
  • Supervises treasury and sub-treasury operations.
  • Enforces the Stamp Act and acts as a custodian of government lands.
  • Acts as a protocol officer and empowers the Collector to recover government dues from defaulters residing in the district with property.
  • Responsible for disaster management in the district. Primarily tasked with relief and rehabilitation operations in any calamity whether natural or man-mde.
  • Act as a returning officer for parliament constituency; overall incharge of conducting of election in the district.[29]
  • Enforcement of Essential Commodities Act, 1955
  • To be guardian of a minor under Guardians and wards act.[30]

Other Functions[edit]

  1. District Election Officer (DEO)[31]
  2. Chairperson, Regional Transport Authority [32]
  3. Chairperson, District Road Safety Authority [33]
  4. Chairperson, District Tourism Promotion Council[34]
  5. Chairperson, District Disaster Management Authority[35]
  6. Chairperson, District Development Council (DDC)[36]

Separation from judiciary[edit]

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.[37]


The need to restructure the roles of the District Collector is for removing the colonial legacy, corruption, promoting uniformity, devolving power to local bodies, ensuring separation of power, mitigating power concentration, addressing status quoist tendencies, and advancing grass-root democracy.[38][39][40][41]

There have also been many instances where at lower levels, district magistrates have pressurized victims or their family members, especially if they belong to the marginalized community[42]


Kolkata in West Bengal does not have 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.[43]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nath, Anusha (15 October 2014). "Bureaucrats and Politicians: How Does Electoral Competition Affect Bureaucratic Performance?" (PDF). Boston University. pp. 5–6. Retrieved 27 October 2023.
  2. ^ "Administrative Setup | District Administration, Nuh | India". Nuh.gov.in. Retrieved 26 October 2023.
  3. ^ "Role of Deputy Commissioner Office". District Administration Fatehgarh Sahib. Retrieved 31 May 2023.
  4. ^ "The Indian Civil Service". Retrieved 18 September 2014.
  5. ^ "Administering India: The Indian Civil Service". Retrieved 18 September 2014.
  6. ^ Blunt, (1937)[full citation needed]
  7. ^ a b c d e Maheshwari, S.R. (2000). Indian Administration (6th ed.). New Delhi: Orient Blackswan Private Ltd. pp. 573–597. ISBN 9788125019886.
  8. ^ a b c d e Singh, G.P. (1993). Revenue administration in India: A case study of Bihar. Delhi: Mittal Publications. pp. 50–124. ISBN 978-8170993810.
  9. ^ a b c d e Laxmikanth, M. (2014). Governance in India (2nd ed.). Noida: McGraw Hill Education. pp. 6.1–6.6. ISBN 978-9339204785.
  10. ^ Report of the Indian Statutory Commission Volume 1 - Survey. Presented by the Secretary of State for the Home Department to Parliament by Command of His Majesty. May, 1930 AND Volume 2 - Recommendations Presented to the Secretary of State for the Home Department to Parliament by Command of His Majesty. May 1930. London: His Majesty's Stationery Office. 1930. p. 255.
  11. ^ "Report of the 7th Central Pay Commission of India" (PDF). Department of Economic Affairs, Government of India. Seventh Central Pay Commission of India. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 November 2015. Retrieved 15 February 2018.
  12. ^ Arora, Ramesh K. (2011). Indian Public Administration: Institutions and Issues. New Age. ISBN 978-8122434460.
  13. ^ KP Sai Kiran (3 July 2018). "Now, no security for sub-collectors". Times of India. Retrieved 31 May 2023.
  14. ^ Shikha Salaria (26 February 2020). "Noida: Police withdraw PSOs of additional district magistrates". Times of India. Retrieved 31 May 2023.
  15. ^ Nootan Sharma (21 December 2022). "District Collector, Magistrate, Development Commissioner: what to call an IAS officer?". The Print. Retrieved 31 May 2023.
  16. ^ "Maharashtra Act No. XLI of 1966" (PDF). Government of Maharashtra Law and Judiciary Department. 26 May 2010. Retrieved 31 May 2023.
  17. ^ "The M. P. Land Revenue Code, 1959" (PDF). Board of Revenue. Retrieved 31 May 2023.
  18. ^ "Powers Of District Magistrate in India". Important India. Archived from the original on 16 August 2017. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  19. ^ "CONSTITUTIONAL SETUP". Government of Uttar Pradesh. Retrieved 30 August 2017.
  20. ^ "Administration". Muzaffarnagar District. Retrieved 6 September 2017.
  21. ^ "GENERAL ADMINISTRATION". Ghaziabad District. Retrieved 6 September 2017.
  22. ^ "About Deputy Commissioner & District Magistrate's Office". Dakshin Kannada District. Retrieved 6 September 2017.
  23. ^ "Power & Functions of Deputy Commissioner". Office of Regional Commissioner, Belagum. Retrieved 6 September 2017.
  24. ^ "Administration". Agra District website. Retrieved 21 August 2017.
  25. ^ P, Ambika (28 July 2021). "Amid protests, Parliament passes bill giving powers to district magistrates to issue adoption orders". The Times of India. Retrieved 27 March 2022.
  26. ^ National Security Act, India.[1]
  27. ^ "The Arms Rules, 1962" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs. 13 July 1962. Retrieved 31 May 2023.
  28. ^ Sharma, Shantanu Nandan. "Covid-19: How two laws have vested unusual powers with the district magistrates". The Economic Times. Retrieved 27 March 2022.
  29. ^ "Functions of District Collector| District Administration, Nuh | India". Retrieved 6 April 2024.
  30. ^ "Powers, Functions and Responsibilities of Collector/District Magistrate" (PDF).
  31. ^ "The Representation of People Act, 1951". Election Commission of India. 18 July 2023. Retrieved 7 December 2023.
  32. ^ "About the Authority". District Road Safety Authorities of Kerala. Archived from the original on 21 April 2021.
  33. ^ "Section 68. Transport Authorities". Legislative Department, Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India. Retrieved 31 May 2023.
  34. ^ "District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC) of Kerala". www.discoveredindia.com. Retrieved 5 May 2023.
  35. ^ "Members of DDMA – Kerala State Disaster Management Authority". Retrieved 5 May 2023.
  36. ^ "District Planning Office". District Administration Ernakulam. Retrieved 31 May 2023.
  37. ^ "CJ inaugurates District Court at Baghmara". 17 December 2020.
  38. ^ Sharma, Nootan (21 December 2022). "District Collector, Magistrate, Development Commissioner: what to call an IAS officer?". ThePrint. Retrieved 31 May 2023.
  39. ^ Administrative Reforms Commission’s 15th Report titled "State and District Administration" (PDF) (Report). Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions. Retrieved 31 May 2023.
  40. ^ "Seek to decolonise: Why we need to restructure the district collector's role". The Indian Express. 8 December 2022. Retrieved 31 May 2023.
  41. ^ College, Magadh Mahila. "Role of District Magistrate Move with the Changing Times" (PDF). Retrieved 31 May 2023.
  42. ^ Desk, DH Web. "Media will be gone, we will remain: DM tells Hathras rape victim's family". Deccan Herald. Retrieved 7 July 2024.
  43. ^ "Mamata Banerjee: Separate collector for Kolkata | Kolkata News - Times of India". The Times of India. 2 September 2012.


  1. ^ A district magistrate is either a member of IAS or State Civil Service appointed by Government of State Governments of India in that respective state.