Powers Of District Magistrate In India
The District Magistrate or the Collector is the chief executive of a district. He is responsible for running the administration of the district smoothly and properly. In fact, the district is the principal administration in India. The activities of the district administration practically covers a wide range and touches almost at every level the loves and activities of the people. The main task of the district administration is as such to implement programs with the active co-operation and support of the people of the district.
Thus the district administration has some special characteristics. Here the government comes into direct contact with the people and the problems that the district administration tries to solve are essentially local in their character. “The state government finds each district at its lowest level and its direct agency terminates there leaving the head of the district as its last agent and ‘man on the spot. Exceptions apart, the districts represent the maximum of the area in which they must work together. The district administration is field work as opposed to staff or secretarial duty. And at the collector level in the district all policies end and action begins.”
The District Magistrate or the Collector is the pivot in the district administration. He is the main agent for making the necessary co-ordination of the official agencies functioning within the district. As such the function and responsibilities of the District Magistrate may be broadly classified under three general heads viz., the District Magistrate as the Collector, the District Magistrate as the Magistrate of the ruler of the district and the District Magistrate as the highest administrative officer in the district.
As a Collector the District Magistrate is responsible for the collection of revenue from the district.
- It is also his responsibility to hear the appeals in revenue cases against the decisions taken by the Tahasildars and other subordinate revenue collectors in the district. Thus, as a revenue collector, he is to look after the collection of land revenue, maintenance of land records, land reforms, consolidation of holdings etc. Actually the revenue collection function of the collector includes revenue, excise and the government treasury. It covers the separate items. The first is the assessment and collection of land revenue. “The district apparatus for this purpose in the normal way consists of the Collector (D.M.), the sub-divisional officers (deputy collectors), the Tahasildars, and the naib-Tahasildars and at the village level the patwaries.”
- The irrigation departments consists the second group. Here the irrigation department generally makes out the “demand lists of irrigation dues” each season and sends it to the Collector or to the Tahasildars. Then the Collector with his revenue staff collects it.
- The third element is the income tax. Here also the assessment is made by the income tax officials who in fact are under the central government. They collect the income tax directly but they certify the arrears collection of income tax to the District Collector for recovery.
- The fourth element is agricultural income tax which is also collected under the order of the District Collector.
- The fifth element, the sales tax is also collected under the authority and responsibility of the District Collector especially for the collection of the arrears.
- The sixth element included—the court fees payable in connection with various judicial proceedings, such as the presentation of plaints, the issue of writs and other processes documents and the certified copies of proceedings. It also includes taxes leviable in the shape of revenue stamp on documents. The District Collector has good say in these activities.
- The seventh element of these revenue annals is the excise duties of different kinds. In the district, an officer of the district officer’s staff is designated as the district officer’s staff. He supervises and controls the works of the excise inspectors. A number of other taxes like the taxes on motor vehicles, entertainment taxes etc. are also there which are collected under the supervision of the Collector.
As a District Magistrate, the task of the D.M. is quite heavy. He is an executive magistrate. He is the head of all magistrates (except Additional District Magistrates) within the district. It may be noted that though a District Magistrate is an official of the Executive branch and not of the Judicial branch. However, the District magistrate may be granted judicial powers by the State Government in certain circumstances.
- It is his duty to main peace and order in the district.
- He supervise the activities of other magistrates under him in the district.
- It is his duty to maintain law and order within the district and also to take all the necessary actions under the preventive section of the criminal procedure code. This concerns the question of public safety, the protection of the citizens and all of his rights within the district.
- In certain cases, he may hear and decide the criminal cases, if so empowered by the State Government. Thus, the administration of criminal and civil justice may also also fall under his jurisdiction.
- The District Magistrate controls the police department of the district that is under him and supervises the activities of the subordinate executive magistrates.
- He submits the annual criminal report to the government.
- He supervises the district Police Stations at least once in a year and recommends the cases for passport and visa and takes care of the movement of the foreigners within the district.
- He looks after all the election works within the district, appoints the public prosecutor of the district, gives or issues certificates to the persons belong to the Schedule Caste, Schedule Tribes and other backward communities and to the freedom fighters, appoint the village Chowkidar and punishes him for breach of discipline etc.
- As the Chief Executive Officer of the district it is the duty of the District Magistrate to implement the posting transfer and to grant the leaves of different gazetted officers within the district to implement various government orders, to submit the budget of the district to the government.
The District Magistrate acts as the Chief Protocol Officer of the district. He also conducts the census work, presides over the local institutions or remains the member there, looks after the supply and proper distribution of daily necessity goods, hears and takes adequate steps to redress the grievances of the local people, supervises the activities of the young government officers in the district and arrange for their training etc.
Apart from all these works the District Magistrate also is the chief development officer of the district. In such a capacity it is his duty to conduct all the development plans and projects of the district, make them successful and remove all the hindrances on its way, to put into effect the policy of democratic decentralization, to act as the chief liaison officer of the state government within the district and maintains close link with all the inhabitants of his district.
All these categories of works are the routine works of the District Magistrate. In addition to these works the District Magistrate functions as the returning officer in the elections of both the Lok Sabha and the State Legislative Assembly. He conducts all the election works in the district level, supervises them and co-ordinates them. Moreover, as he is the chief information officer it is his duty to collect all the necessary news and information and to dispatch them to the higher authority.
Thus, the position of a District Magistrate is both responsible and painstaking one. He is in fact the tortoise, as Ramsay MacDonald has put it, on whose back stood the elephant of the government of India. As the works of the government has become more and more complex and voluminous, the responsibility and burden of the District Magistrate have increased no doubt, but he has lost much of his prestige that he used to enjoy during the British period. In fact, after independence the status and dignity of the District Magistrate has decreased much and nowadays he is no longer considered as a high ranking bureaucrat, but has been reduced to the insignificant role of a public servant merely.