The Sub-divisional Officer(Civil) is the chief civil officer of the Sub-Division. In fact, he is a miniature Deputy Commissioner of his Sub-Division. He possesses adequate powers to co-ordinate work in the sub-division. He exercise direct control over the Tehsildars and their staff. He is competent to correspond directly with government and other departments on routine matters. His main duties, like those of the Deputy Commissioner, include revenue, executive and judicial work. In revenue matters, he is Assistant Collector Ist grade but the powers of Collector have been delegated to him under certain acts.
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 licences. 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 programmes. 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.