The present system of administration in Delhi can be traced back to 1803, when Delhi came under British protection and eventually became part of the British Punjab. Delhi district had a District Magistrate who was the Chief District Officer, having revenue and Registration powers. He was also the head of urban administration, being President of the District Board and the Municipality. Till independence, Delhi had a Chief Commissioner as the administrative and executive head, with the District Magistrate reporting to him. He had three Assistant Commissioners to share responsibilities such as case work of revenue and criminal appeals, municipal and minor criminal cases, and administration of the Municipality
After independence, the nature of District Administration underwent some changes with devolution of powers to newly created Departments. For example, the Municipality evolved into the MCD, in which the DM had no role after 1958. The development works were transferred to the Development Commissioner, the industries work to the Directorate of Industries and the work of transport to the Department of Transport.
However, D.M., Delhi continued to be the Head of the District Administration, responsible for law and order, excise, issue of arms and explosive licenses, and citizenship certificates, apart from revenue and criminal judicial work. In the mid-seventies, the DM office was organized as follows – There were four administrative districts – New delhi, Central, North and East, looked after by three ADMs, amongst whom the various other powers and functions, such as treasuries, excise, entertainment etc., were divided. Revenue and Land Acquisition work was supervised by ADM (Revenue) and ADM (LA) respectively. There were 12 Sub-Divisions, each headed by SDM, which was later reduced to seven.
In 1969 the Judiciary was separated from the Executive in 1969 after which heinous crimes were dealt with by Sessions Courts and other offences including IPC offences were dealt with by Judicial Magistrates. The Executive Magistrates were to look after executive and administrative matters such as licensing, sanction of prosecution, and other functions of Executive Magistrates entrusted under Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and other Acts.
In 1978, the Delhi Police Act was promulgated, by which Delhi came under the Commissioner of Police system. Powers under section 107 and Section 144 Cr.P.C., which are important viz a viz law and order matter ,were concurrently given to Special Executive Magistrates under the control of Commissioner of Police and some functions of District Magistrates under the Delhi Police Act, 1978 to the Commissioner of Police.
In 1996 the exercise of decentralizing the DM office began by setting up 27 SDM offices and 9 DC offices. Further, in 2012 two additional districts/sessions divisions were created by amending Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and all the Deputy Commissioners were empowered as District Magistrate.
Today the office of District Magistrate has evolved into the main organ of the Government which plays pivotal role in maintenance of revenue records, relief matters, disaster management, conduct of elections, citizen interaction through RWAs, magistracy and other residual matters like Census, etc. The office of District Magistrate serves as eyes and ears of the Government and is continuously evolving to make the government citizen friendly.
District Magistrate (East)