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Collector


Collector a crucially important colonial officer placed at the district level and entrusted with the responsibility of revenue collection and other civil duties. In spite of many structural changes in the office of the district collector ever since its inception in 1772 by warren hastings, the district collector functioned as the most decisive officer of the administration throughout the British period. It was through this officer that the colonial state used to execute its command, and sustained local control. Originally, the business term 'collector' was given to the European district officer to make other powers in Bengal feel that he was not really a ruler, but merely an officer for revenue collection which was the duty of the east india company as the diwan of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. For many years the Company pretended to be the Diwan, and not the sovereign of the country. But the term became so much a part of the colonial system that it was retained down to the end of British rule.

But the office of collector had underwent considerable structural and functional changes during the period of British rule. Besides revenue collection, the district collector exercised civil, judicial and military powers in districts until 1792, when the judicial and magisterial powers were separated from him and transferred to the district judge. During william bentinck administration, the magisterial duties were separated from the district judge and annexed to the district collector who was given the designation of district magistrate and collector. During the same period the posts of deputy collectors were created to help the office of the district magistrate and collector. Until the later part of the nineteenth century, no native was eligible to become a district collector. But with the introduction of competitive examinations for the Indian civil services, no bar to the post remained, though no native ever became a district collector until at the very end of the nineteenth century. For colonial reasons, the post of district judge was more open to native civilians than that of the district magistrate and collector. During the Pakistan period the institution of district magistrate and collector retained much of the powers and glories of the colonial era. But the nomenclature was changed. The post was renamed as deputy commissioner. Today there are district commissioners, but due to constitutional government they do not now have the despotic powers as exercised in the colonial and Pakistan period. [Sirajul Islam]