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Deputy Commissioner


Deputy Commissioner the chief administrative and revenue officer of a district. The office of the deputy commissioner traces its origin to the district collector system of the early phase of British rule. The district supervisor was appointed with limited functions in 1769. Warren Hastings introduced the district collector system in 1772. The system was, however, repealed in the following year, but restored again in 1787.

Under the Regulation of 27 June 1787, the Collector was vested with the powers of a judge and magistrate. The Collector had also some authority over the police. With the introduction of the permanent settlement in Bengal in 1793, the Collector was stripped of his judicial and police powers, but by 1831 he was reinvested with judicial powers. Since then, the Collector was known in Bengal as the district magistrate and collector or just as the district magistrate. The term deputy commissioner was used during the British colonial days in a different context to describe the chief revenue and executive officer of districts in what was known as non-regulation provinces. The regulation provinces signified the settled areas of Bengal where a legalistic system based on comprehensive acts or regulations governed the working of the district administration. The non-regulation provinces meant newly acquired territories which, because of unstable conditions, demanded a more authoritarian pattern of administration. In East Bengal districts, the appellation district magistrate and collector was uniformly used.

The designation district magistrate is used in the criminal procedure code to denote the principal magistrate of the district. The term 'collector' is derived from the land revenue laws. The designation district magistrate and collector was used during the British colonial days for districts except in the Chittagong Hill Tracts as a non-regulation district where the term deputy commissioner was used. However, after 1960, the district magistrate and collector came to be redesignated throughout the country as deputy commissioner. It is important to note that during the early years, the deputy commissioner's office was concerned with internal security and revenue administration.

Over time, however, the office became increasingly occupied with the general welfare of the people in the district. To that end, the deputy commissioner's role was conceived of as the general controlling authority for all other activities in the district. The universality of the deputy commissioner's role since the early 20th century came to be affected by the introduction of elected legislatures and the creation of specialised departments having their own officers in the districts. The deputy commissioner is, however, still looked upon as the eyes and ears of the government in such areas as law and order, land administration, disaster management and elections, both general and local. The deputy commissioner works under the general guidance and supervision of the Divisional Commissioner. They are under the administrative control of the Cabinet Division although their posting and transfer are made by the ministry of establishment. The deputy commissioners are drawn from the members of the Bangladesh Civil Service (Administration). The selection of deputy commissioners is made through a committee consisting of the cabinet secretary as chairman, and secretaries to the ministries of establishment, home and land as members. [AMM Shawkat Ali]