The Powers, and Responsibilities of the IAS Officers in Civil Services

A considerable number of prominent positions are held by the IAS officers in the Union government. Besides, the state governments and even the government owned PSUs form no exception. It obviously implies that the IAS officers enjoy tremendous powers. Of course, there are various duties and responsibilities as well. Indian Administrative Services are highly coveted by the Indian youth.

Powers vs. Responsibilities of IAS Officer

Besides taking care of the administrative functions, IAS officer is supposed to look into the implementation of the government’s developmental policies.

Apart from the powers bestowed by the post and the responsibilities that accompany them, there are quite a few of the general responsibilities that every IAS officer is supposed to fulfill which are listed below:

  • Manage the government affairs
  • To see to it that the government policies are implemented
  • To manage the government infrastructure
  • Management of govt. affairs, implementation of its policies and the upkeep of infrastructure obviously requires resources and funds that are made available and disbursed by the IAS officers.

Besides, as IAS officer may be questioned (if required concerning the funds) by the Parliament. Besides, the IAS officers is held answerable to the legislatures of the states concerned. They are asked to provide details concerning the funds. Thus there should be absolutely no irregularities in the fund management.

Besides the general responsibilities of IAS officer as listed above, there are quite a few duties and responsibilities of IAS officer that are related with the role that their post requires them to play. These are listed below:

  • At the levels of the sub-divisions and the districts: At the level of the sub-division, IAS officer is posted as the magistrate. The district level encompasses the posts of the Magistrate or Collector or Commissioner. The powers and responsibilities at the district level, however, are the same as those at the sub-divisional level.
  • State Level: The District magistrates are promoted further as bureaucrats either at the secretariat or as the departments heads.
  • PSUs: A number of IAS officers hold prominent positions looking after the administration in the government owned PSUs.
The Powers, and Responsibilities of the IAS Officers in Civil Services

Central Level: The posts to which IAS officer may get promoted to at the central level (the topmost levels of the hierarchy) include the following:

  • Cabinet Secretary
  • Secretary
  • Additional Secretary
  • Joint Secretary
  • Director
  • Deputy Secretary
  • Under Secretary

Note – All these posts may form a part of different departments or the ministries in the central government.

IAS vs. IPS and IFS

The power enjoyed by IAS officer makes Indians covet IAS more than the IPS and IRS. Though a politician’s career may suffer a setback, if the poll results do not favour him, it is not the case with IAS officer. He is provided with a prestigious job, a car with a chauffeur, a bungalow and also footmen waiting on him.

Besides, the bungalow that is provided to IAS officer is a luxurious accommodation at an extremely low rent.  There are various domestic helps.

Quite a few other perks enjoyed by IAS officer are listed below:

  • Govt. cars holding red lights.

Electricity free of cost and no payment by the IAS officer for the telephone bills.

  • Whenever IAS officer is supposed to travel on duty, govt. accommodations and rest houses are kept ready to receive them before their arrival.
  • The job security enjoyed by IAS officer is almost supreme as it is not easy even to get IAS officers sacked, not even by a minister.
  • IAS officer is allowed to avail study leave for 2 to 4 years at a foreign university at the cost of government.
  • Needless to say, IAS officer is provided with the retirement benefits including pension for life.

It would not be improper to say that the perks, prestige and the power enjoyed by an IAS office is almost peerless and unmatched even by a prestigious private sector employee.

But it is not entirely a rosy picture. As already said earlier, there is a flipside to the coin. With the power, comes the responsibility.

Work Pressure

The following tasks often pile up work pressure on IAS officer:

  • Formation (besides, implementation) of govt. policies – Though it has been stated above that IAS officer is supposed to effectively implement the govt. policies, it must not be forgotten that any policy including a govt. policy needs to be formulated before being implemented. In a ministry, IAS officer also plays a role in the formation of a policy.
  • Fund management – As it has already been mentioned earlier, IAS officer is not only required to manage funds for the implementation of govt. policies, but he is also answerable to Parliament and the state legislature. Thus, the allotment of funds by the field officers in a ministry is to be supervised by the IAS officer. Besides, IAS officer must be ready with all the information whenever he is asked to provide the same. Thus it is no wonder that during the times when Parliament is in session, IAS officer is working almost round the clock so that he is ready whatever details he is asked for!
  • Multiple types of duties – IAS officer, apart from working under pressure, has to fulfill a vast range of duties and is held responsible for various tasks.
  • At times, IAS officer is required to visit various states. Besides, quite a few of the Public Sector Corporations, include IAS officers (if allowed by their rank) as government nominees in Board of Directors.
  • IAS officer, at times, is also nominated to represent India at International forums either independently or accompany a Minister for similar meetings.
  • IAS officer can also sign international agreements on behalf of the Government of India, provided he holds the rank of Deputy Secretary to the Government of India.
  • Though IAS officer is required to visit various states and even go abroad in order to perform various duties and responsibilities, most of his life is spent in the state he is allocated, fulfilling various duties and responsibilities as listed below:
  • implementation of law and maintenance of order
  • general administration
  • various jobs related to revenue
  • developmental functions, etc.

It’s more than obvious by now that an IAS is supposed to perform various types of jobs. So the two years probation witnesses IAS officer attached to multiples bodies/personnel(s) (apart from various training institutes) as listed below:

  • Secretariat
  • Field    Offices
  • District Collector’s Office

Thus it should be noted that IAS officer may be required to function in the capacity of a sub magistrate.

Next comes the position of SDM, after the completion of probation. The major duties and responsibilities of an SDM are as listed below:

  • looking after law and order
  • general administration
  • various jobs related to revenue
  • developmental functions (as assigned), etc.

It must be noted that the nature of IAS officer’s duties as an SDM are not very different from those of a sub magistrate.

The post of SDM is followed by three scales as listed below:

  • Senior Scale,
  • Junior Administrative Grade and
  • Selection Grade

Thus, IAS officer would be required to serve as :

  • District Magistrate,
  • Chief Development Officer,
  • Director of a department,
  • Managing Director of a Public Sector Unit or a Senior officer in the State Secretariat.

The point to be noted is that though it implies that  IAS officer might be a DM during the fifth year and continue to be so till the 17th year when he is promoted to the Super Time Scale, the rank in the State Secretariat differs from State to State.

A brighter light may be thrown on what has been stated above by means of an example.  IAS officers in the Junior Administrative Grade are promoted as Secretaries in Jammu and Kashmir. But it is not so in all of the states where IAS officer gets promoted as the Secretary to the State government only when he reaches the Selection Grade.

What is uniform in all the states is that all of the officers in the Super Time Scale are either Secretaries or the Divisional Commissioners. Promotions that follow lie in scale to the ranks of Principal Secretary and Additional Chief Secretary. The highest post in the State is that of the Chief Secretary.

The powers enjoyed by IAS officer vs. those of an MP and MLA

First of all, a DM’s supremacy over that of an MP or MLA may be assessed by the basic fact that all Indian districts are bigger both in terms of area and population. Usually a district comprises legislative assemblies that fall in between 3-10 and either 1 or 2 parliamentary constituencies.

Besides, there are various other powers that establish IAS officer’s supremacy over that of an MP or MLA as listed below:

  • Superior executive, and administrative powers of a DM – As a DM exercises control over many departments of the government, he enjoys more of executive, and administrative powers as compared with those of MPs and MLAs. Some of these departments are listed below:


(ii) DUDA


(iv)Jal Nigam

(v)municipal councils

(vi) police

  • blocks
  • villages panchayat etc.
  • Superior financial powers of a DM – Apart from the administrative and executive powers, the DMs have power to sanction the annual budget which usually in case of an average district is 400 crores. In sharp contrast to this, there are,

however, in the case of Members of Parliament and also those of the Legislative Assemblies, MPLADS as well as MLALADS allow them the power to sanction funds only upto 5 crores and just 2 crores respectively. Besides even these amounts for the constituencies are sanctioned after the permission is granted by the DM.

  • Discretionary Powers – MLAs and MPs either pass or reject bills in state assemblies and Parliament. They do not enjoy any discretionary power or any other power for that matter.

Contrary to the case of MPs and MLAs, a DM, as he is the head of the executive magistrates discretionary power to issue the order for the following:

  • curfew as per Section – 144
  • just shoot at the sight

Besides, a DM can conduct the  revenue courts. 

  • Tenure – The number of years IAS officer serves are 35 – 40 years. But the MPs and MLAs are re-elected during every election for their next term.

So far, so good! But we must not forget that the IAS officers are answerable to the Parliament and also the state legislature whereas the MPs and the MLAs are answerable to the public who has voted for them.

The Salary of the IAS Officers – 7th Pay Commission

The recommendations made by the 7th Pay Commissions were approved by the Cabinet on 29th June, 2016.

The Salient Features

  • The basic pay is hiked by 14.27%.
  • The annual increment continues to be 3%.
  • The basic pay for all Civil Servants (Group A) is same (Pay Level 10).

The major details are as listed below:

  • The basic salary of a junior level IAS officer is Rs. 56100 that is be incremented by means of annual increments.
  • The basic salary of a Cabinet Secretary is fixed to be Rs. 2,50,000.

HRA and DA ?

Apart from the salary, it is because of the powers enjoyed by IAS officer that makes the Indian Administrative Services highly coveted. No wonder, IAS is the most coveted civil service, the others being IPS, IFS and IRS.

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