The district is the basic unit of administration. The Deputy Commissioner, Basti, as head of the district administration, is a functionary of the State Government, under the administrative control of Divisional Commissioner, Basti. He has wide powers and manifold responsibilities. In many ways he is chief custodian of law and authority, the pivot on which runs the local administration.
The main functions of the Deputy Commissioner may be broadly categorized as : co-ordination of development and public welfare activities as Deputy Commissioner, revenue officer/Court of the district as District Collector, and law and order functions as District Magistrate. Thus, he acts as Deputy Commissioner, District Collector and District Magistrate on different occasions. His role in each of these capacities is described, in brief, as under:
(I) As Deputy Commissioner
He is the executive of the district with numerous responsibilities in the sphere of civil administration, development, Panchayat, local bodies, etc. Due to immense importance of his office, the Deputy Commissioner is considered to be the measuring rod of efficiency in administration.
The Deputy Commissioner has an Office Superintendent under him, to supervise the work of the clerical staff. He guides functioning of different branches of his office. Each branch is headed by an Assistant and is functionally known after him. For example, the branch looked after by Establishment Assistant (EA) is known as the EA Branch, the one under Miscellaneous Assistant is known as the MA Branch, etc. etc. An Assistant has to perform two types of functions-supervisory and disparities i.e. he has to supervise the work of the officials working under him, and also to dispose of many cases either at his level or by putting them up to his senior officers. An Assistant has one or more Clerks under him.
The number of branches in the office of the Deputy Commissioner differs from district to district depending upon the requirements in each case, but more important branches existing in almost all the districts are, Establishment Branch, Nazarat Branch, Sadr Kanungo Branch, Development Branch, Miscellaneous Branch, Licensing Branch, Complaints and Enquiries Branch, Local Funds Branch, District Revenue Accounts Branch, Flood Relief Branch, Revenue Records Branch, Records and Issue Branch, Sadr Copying Agency, Registration Branch, Peshi Branch, etc.
(ii) As District Magistrate
The District Magistrate is responsible for the maintenance of law and order in the district. He is the head of criminal administration and supervises all Executive Magistrates in the district and controls and directs the actions of the police. He has supervisory powers over the administration of jails and lock-ups in the district.
Besides his above mentioned duties as Deputy Commissioner, and District Magistrate, he plays an important role as Deputy Custodian, under the Displaced Persons (Compensation and Rehabilitation) Act, 1954. In this capacity his duties are: revision against the orders of Tahsildars and Officer-in-Charge, Rural, regarding allotment of land and houses in rural areas; revision against the orders of the District Rent Officer, regarding allotment of houses and shops in urban areas and disposal of cases received from the Assistant Custodian (Judicial) regarding evacuee property.
The position of District Magistrate as head of the district administration has become one of expanding responsibilities. As he is the executive head of the civil administration, all departments in the district, which otherwise have their own officers, look to him for guidance and co-ordination. He plays an important role in the administration of municipal committees, market committees, panchayats, panchayat samitis, community development blocks and the zila parishad, which came into existence with the decentralisation of authority and expansion of the Panchayati Raj. He is also responsible for the execution of rural development schemes. Besides, he is responsible, as District Election Officer, for the peaceful and orderly conduct of all elections held in the district from time to time. For elections to Lok Sabha constituency/constituencies of his district, he functions as Returning Officer. He renders active help during decennial census. He controls and regulates the distribution of scarce essential commodities, etc. He keeps liaison with military authorities in his jurisdiction and is the Competent Authority for requisition of land for military purposes. In any matter of public importance which does not fall specifically in the sphere of any government department, State or Central, he, as a general administrator, is required to take cognizance of the matter in public interest and take it to its logical conclusion with the help of some Government department or by processing the matter in his own office. In short, there is nothing of importance which takes place in the district with which he is not associated, directly or indirectly.
Additional Deputy Commissioner
The post of Additional Deputy Commissioner has been created to assist the Deputy Commissioner in his day-to-day working. The Additional Deputy Commissioner enjoys the same powers as that of Deputy Commissioner under the rules.
Sub divisional Officers (Civil)
The Sub divisional Officer (Civil) is a miniature Deputy Commissioner in his subdivision. In fact, under many revenue legislations, he is invariably vested with powers of Collector, to be exercised within his jurisdiction. He also hears appeals as Collector of the subdivision, against the orders of Assistant Collectors, Grade II (Tahsildars and Naib-Tahsildars) and Assistant Collectors, Grade I (Tahsildars in partition cases). He is either a junior member of the Indian Administrative Service or a senior member of the State Civil Service, who has earned extensive experience in subordinate positions. He exercises direct control over the Tahsildars and his staff in his subdivision. He is the normal channel of correspondence between the Deputy Commissioner and the Tahsildars in his subdivision.
The powers and responsibilities of the Sub Divisional Officer relating to revenue, magisterial, executive and development matters within his jurisdiction, are analogous to those of the Deputy Commissioner. His revenue duties include supervision and inspection of all matters from assessment to collection of land revenue; co-ordination of work of all officials in the subdivision, particularly in the departments of Revenue, Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Public Health within the subdivision.
His magisterial duties are: liaison and co-ordination with police in the subdivision; watch over the relations between various communities and classes; special precautions and actions in emergency, especially connected with festivals; and recommendations to the District Magistrate, when he is himself not competent, for grant of arms licenses. He has ample powers under the Criminal Procedure Code, Punjab Police Rules, and other laws to exercise effective supervision over the law and order situation in his area.
In his executive capacity, he can call for any of the records and registers which deal with crime, from a Police Station and can call the Station House Officer of Police Station to come to him to explain the matters. He can bind down anti-social elements for peaceful conduct over a period. He commands closer contact with the public and more intimate association with the local bodies and market committees.
He also plays an important role in the rural development program. He needs co-operation and help from other Government officials in the subdivision for the smooth running of administration and successful implementation of development schemes. On important policy matters, however, he is required to route the matters through the Deputy Commissioner.
For the elections to the Vidhan Sabha, he is generally appointed as Returning Officer for the constituency/ constituencies in his jurisdiction. For elections to the Lok Sabha constituencies , he is generally appointed as Assistant Returning Officer.
Tahsildars and Naib- Tahsildars
The officer in charge of a tahsil is called Tahsildar. However, there is no substantial difference in the revenue and magisterial duties of a Tahsildar and a Naib-Tahsildar, In revenue matters, both exercise the powers of Assistant Collector, Grade II, in their circles as Circle Revenue Officers. Tahsildars and Naib-Tahsildars are appointed as ex officio Executive Magistrates in the district of their posting provided they have passed the respective prescribed Departmental Examinations in Criminal Law Paper by the Lower Standard as well as in the Language Paper. However, a Tahsildar is vested with powers of Assistant Collector, Grade I, with regard to the partition cases, which power he exercises in whole of the tahsil; the Naib-Tahsildars are not vested with this power. Also, as senior Revenue Officer of the Tahsil and as overall in charge thereof, a Tahsildar has powers of co-ordination and distribution of work among Circle Revenue Officers, the Naib-Tahsildars and himself. He is a Class II gazetted officer of the State Government which a Naib-Tahsildar is not. In this regard, a Tahsildar is competent to make and issue certificates as a gazetted officer. All recommendations in lambardari cases, even in the revenue circles of Naib-Tahsildars, are routed through him to Sub Divisional Officer (Civil) and to the Deputy Commissioner.
For elections to the Vidhan Sabha, a Tahsildar is, invariably be appointed as Assistant Returning Officer for the constituency/constituencies falling in his tahsil.
The Tahsildars and Naib-Tahsildars are responsible for collection of land revenue and other dues payable to the Government. To remain in touch with the subordinate revenue staff, to observe the seasonal conditions and condition of crops, to listen to the difficulties of the cultivators and to distribute the taccavi loans, the Tahsildar and Naib-Tahsildars extensively tour the areas in their jurisdiction. They decide urgent matters on the spot, like correction of entries in the account books, providing relief to the people faced with natural calamities, etc. On their return from tour, they prepare reports and recommend to the Government remission or suspen-sionofland revenue and bring the records uptodate. They also sit in the courts to settle disputes of tenancy, arrears of rent ejectment of tenants, entries in account books, etc. besides doing other kind of work.
In the performance of their above functions, the Tahsildars and Naib-Tahsildars in Basti District are assisted by a Sadar Kanungo, who is incharge of revenue records at the district headquarters, 4 Office Kanungos (one at each tahsil headquarters), 4 Assistant Off ice Kanungos, 18 Field Kanungos (tahsilwise 3 in Basti, 6 in Malerkotla, 5 in Barnala and 4 in Sunam), 3 Peshi Kanungos and 316 Patwaris.
The duties of a Kanungo are to superwise the work of the Patwaris. He is an important link between the Tahsildar/Naib-Tahsildar and the Patwari. Each Tahsildar is assisted by an Office Kanungo, besides a number of Field Kanungos. In Basti District, an Assistant Office Kanungo is also attached to each Tahsildar. The main duty of an Office Kanungo is to consolidate the information on different aspects of revenue administration. Similarly, in the Deputy Commissioner's Office, there is a Sadr Kanungo who inter-alia is incharge of Patwaris' and Kanungos' establishments and carries out inspections of Patwar Circles and Kanungos Circles.
Special Kanungo or Patwari Moharrir makes the information contained in revenue records, accessible to the litigating public and to the courts, by preparing extracts from the revenue records. Special Kanungo assists the courts of law in the examination of revenue records by giving evidence and by putting the records before the court and by drawing attention to those parts of the records which the court ought to examine
Whereas, the Deputy Commissioner is regarded as the pivot of the district administration, the Patwari is the representative of Government at the village level, Upto 1906, he was paid by the village itself, but now he is a salaried Government employee. He has usually one or two villages in his charge. His local knowledge is so extensive that there is hardly any information about the village and its occupants of which he is not aware or of which he cannot make a guess. As such, he is viewed as the eyes and ears of the Collector.
The duties of the Patwari include conducting of surveys, field inspections, recording of crops, revision of maps or reports relating to mutations, partitions, revenue or rents, taccavi, etc. Under the orders of the Collector, he prepares the records of rights. He is also required to assist in providing relief to agriculturists in distress or in census operations. He reports the crime and prepares maps to illustrate police inquiries. His special duty is the preparation of dhal bachh (papers regarding distribution of revenue over holdings).
Lambardar is the most important functionary in the village. His main function is to keep watch over the law and order situation in his area and report the matter to the nearest police station in case of breach of law. It is also his duty to collect the revenue dues for Government from various sources and to remit these into treasury. He is given 5 per cent of land revenue collection which is called pachotra. He is the custodian of all government properties in the village. He also reports to the Tahsildar about the deaths of assignees and pensioners and their absence for over a year. Above all, he is the representative of Government in the village. He is assisted by a village Chowkidar.