(Last Updated on : 01-01-2011)
The District Collector is the officer in charge of the administration at the district level. The state is territorially divided into units known as districts. The overall functioning of this district is headed by the District Collector. The District Collector is as a rule a member of the Indian Administrative Service
(IAS). As the IAS consists of (a) direct recruits and (b) promotees from State Civil Services, these two sub-groups constitute the two natural sources from which the District Collectors are drawn. The District Collector who is recruited to the IAS directly (that is, through competitive examination) is a young man, usually in his thirties. The post of District Collector is also occupied by officers who were originally recruited to the State Civil Services and who have since been promoted to the IAS. This category belongs to a higher age group. There may also be some District Collectors who are not members of the Indian Administrative Service. Such officers still belong to the State Civil Service but are likely to be soon promoted to the IAS, or are on verge of retirement, and therefore, afforded the satisfaction of functioning, and then retiring, as District Collector.
Origin of role of District Collector
The office of the District Collector can be traced back to Mughal times. The District Collector succeeded the Karori-Faujdar of the Mughal Government. However, with the decline of the Mughal Empire, this institution gradually disappeared. The present office is the creation of the British in India. It dates back to the year 1772, when the British East India Company
had made the historic decision to take the entire responsibility of the administration of revenues through an agency of their appointed servants. Gradually, the authority and power of the district collector increased and before long he emerged as the pivot of district administration, representing the State Government in its totality.
Functions of District Collector
The principal responsibility of the District Collector is to maintain law and order in his district. The duty of assessing and collecting the land revenue, which was originally the prime function of this office remained more undefined than defined. Other public functionaries posted in the district look to him for help, advice, some times even orders, and even the citizens almost always turn to him whenever they have grievances to be redressed or have any problem the solution for which they do not seem to know or agree with. The office of District Collector/Deputy Commissioner has changed fundamentally in its power and prestige since independence.
District Collector and other District-level functionaries
The District Collector belongs to the General Administration Department of the State Government, while the officials over whom he exercises control and supervision belong to a variety of departments, in the district hierarchy of which he may or may not have a formal assignment. As head of the district, the District Collector is involved in a network of inter-relationships with other district level functionaries. There are those whose head at the district level is the Collector in all matters, and who represent departments having no district heads of their own, for example, the Tahsildar; there are officers whose head at the district level is the Collector for only administrative and certain disciplinary matters but who, in technical matters, are under the control of their own district level officers; for example, District Agricultural Officer, District Excise Officer; then there are officres who are themselves heads, at the district level, of their field staff but are made Subordinate to the Collector only in certain specified matters. Apart from these, they are under the control of their own respective regional officers. The Superintendent of Police, the Civil Surgeon, the Assistant Registrar of Cooperative Societies, the Executive Engineer of the Public Works Department, etc., come under this category; finally, there are officers the control over whom does not at all rest in the Collector-Labour Officer, Sales Tax Officer, etc.