Services (Prelims) Examination Special
Quick Revision Notes
Empire - III (Administration under Akbar) :
Like other Muslim monarchs, Akbar was, at least in theory,
subordinate to the wishes of entire Muslim population (millat),
which, in turn, was guided by the Muslim learned
divines called the Ulema. Akbar
sought to remove this check to his will and became
the supreme authority over his Muslim subjects by
promulgating the Infallibility Decree (Mahzar)
in September 1579.
Akbar believed that the king must be absolutely tolerant
to every creed and must establish universal peace in his
As per Abul Fazalâ€™s Akbarnama, Akbar
appeared three times every day for State business.
Early at sunrise he used to be ready at jhroka-i-darshan
to show himself to his subjects.
Here he was accessible to the common people and listened
to their complaints. Next, he used to hold an open court
which generally lasted for four and a half hours. People from
both sexes were allowed to submit their petitions and
the emperor used to decide the cases on the spot.
In the afternoon Akbar used to hold a full durbar in the
he attended to daily routine business, particularly
relating to forces, workshops and to the appointment
and promotion of mansabdars and
granting of jagirs.
In the evening and often during night Akbar used to meet
his ministers and advisers in the private audience hall called
special business relating to foreign relations and
internal administration was attended to.
Late in the night, Akbar used to discuss confidential matters
related to war, foreign policy and internal administration in
a room called Daulat Khana, which
became known in the times of Jehangir as Gusal
Khana, owing to its proximity
to the royal bathroom.
The Central government under Akbar consisted of four
departments, each presided over by a minister. These ministers
were: Vakil (Prime
Minister), Diwan or Wazir (Finance
Minister), Mir Bakhshi (Pay-Master
General), and Sadar-us-Sadur (Chief
The Mughal ministers did not constitute a Cabinet in the
modern sense of term. They were basically secretaries. The initiation
of the policies was in the hands of the emperor.
The first finance minister of Akbar was Muzaffar Khan.
Todar Mal, Muzaffar Khan and
Shah Mansur were
the three most notable finance ministers of
Akbar and all the three were skilled financiers and
The Diwan or
finance minister was assisted by Diwan-i-Khalsa,
who was incharge of Khalsa (crown
or reserved) lands; Diwan-i-Jagirs,
who was incharge of the lands
that were given in lieu of service or as free grants (sayurghal);
was incharge of military accounts; and Diwan-i-Bayutut,
whose duty was to supervise the
accounts of various workshops attached to the court.
The Mir Bakhshi or
Pay-Master General ranked next to the imperial Diwan.
His office corresponded to the Diwan-i-Ariz
of the Sultanate period.
The Mir Bakhshi was
required to maintain a register in which names,
ranks and salaries of mansabdars were recorded. All
orders of appointment to mansabs of all ranks were
passed through his office. One of his most important duties
was to prepare a list of guards who had to keep watch around
the royal palace.
The Chief Sadar or Sadar-us-Sadur discharged
three-fold duties, namely, to act as the religious adviser
to the emperor, to disburse the royal charity, and
to function as the chief justice of the empire.
After Akbar reorganized his administration and rejected
the Islamic theory of government, the Chief Sadar ceased
to be the supreme religious adviser.
Akbar divided his empire into well-defined provinces
or subas, and
established uniform administration in them. In
1602, the provinces numbered 15.
The three provinces of South (Dakhin), namely,
Khandesh, Berar and Ahmadnagar,
were constituted into a single
viceroyalty and were placed under Prince
In each suba, there
was a governor, styled as Sipah Salar,
a diwan, a
qazi, a kotwal,
a mir bahar
and a waqaya navis.
The Sipah Salar (governor)
was the head of the province. He was popularly
called subahadar and sometimes only â€˜subaâ€™.
He was appointed by the emperor and was responsible
for the welfare of the people of his province, as also
administer even-handed justice. He was also entrusted with
the work of realizing tribute from the vassal States situated
within the boundaries of his suba.
The provincial Diwan was
the second most important officer of the suba.
He was appointed on the recommendation
of the Imperial Diwan.
There were two parallel and mutually independent authorities
in every province. The Sipah Sadar was
the head of the military, police and executive
services, while the Diwan was the
head of the civil and revenue branchâ€”he reported
directly to the Imperial Diwan and
was not subordinate to the governor.
Generally one officer was appointed to discharge the
functions of both the Sadar and
Waqaya Navis was
incharge of posting newswriters and spies in all important places in the
province. Generally a separate officer was given
this job, but at times the provinical Bakhshi
was given the dual charge.
The Kotwal was
incharge of internal defence, sanitation and peace
in the provincial capital. He was the supreme
administrator of all thanas of
The Mir Bahar was
incharge of customs and boats and ferry taxes, and
port duties in coastal towns.