COMMISSIONER, in general an officer appointed to carry out some particular work, or to discharge the duty of a particular office; one who is a member of a commission (q.v.). In this sense the word is applied to members of a permanently constituted department of the administration, as civil service commissioners, commissioners of income tax, commissioners in lunacy, &c. It is also the title given to the heads of or important officials in various governmental departments, as commissioner of customs. In some British possessions in Africa and the Pacific the head of the government is styled high commissioner. In India a commissioner is the chief administrative official of a division which includes several districts. The office does not exist in Madras, where the same duties are discharged by a board of revenue, but is found in most of the other provinces. The commissioner comes midway between the local government and the district officer. In the regulation provinces the district officer is called a collector (q.v.), and in the non-regulation provinces a deputy-commissioner. In the former he must always be a member of the covenanted civil service, but in the latter he may be a military officer.
A chief commissioner is a high Indian official, governing a province inferior in status to a lieutenant-governorship, but in direct subordination to the governor-general in council. The provinces which have chief commissioners are the Central Provinces and Berar, the North-West Frontier Province and Coorg. The agent to the governor-general of Baluchistan is also chief commissioner of British Baluchistan, the agent to the governor-general of Rajputana is also chief commissioner of the British district of Ajmere-Merwara, and there is a chief commissioner of the Andaman and Nicobar islands. Several provinces, such as the Punjab, Oudh, Burma and Assam, were administered by chief commissioners before they were raised to the status of lieutenant-governorships (see Lieutenant).
A commissioner for oaths in England is a solicitor appointed by the lord chancellor to administer oaths to persons making affidavits for the purpose of any cause or matter. The Commissioner for Oaths Act 1889 (with an amending act 1891), amending and consolidating various other acts, regulates the appointment and powers of such commissioners. In most large towns the minimum qualification for appointment is six years’ continuous practice, and the application must be supported by two barristers, two solicitors and at least six neighbours of the applicant. The charge made by commissioners for every oath, declaration, affirmation or attestation upon honour is one shilling and sixpence; for marking each exhibit (a document or other thing sworn to in an affidavit and shown to a deponent when being sworn), one shilling.