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Provincial Administration of Mughal Empire

The Empire under the Mughals was divided into provinces which were known as Subhas. In the beginning Akbar’s reign total number of subhas were 12 later on at the time of his death it were 15.During Shah Jahan ‘s time there were 19 subhas.During the Aurangzeb’s reign Mughal Empire had 21 subhas. Some of the important officials were: Subedar or Sipalibalar- He was the governor, his function were the maintenance of law and order, enforcement of imperial decrees and administration of criminal justice in the subha.He was appointed by the Emperor. Diwan-He was in charge of revenue administration of the province. Bakshi-Discharged the duties as Mir Bakshi at the central level. Qazi, sadr, Muhtasib were other official in the provinces.

Every province was divided into many sarkars or districts. The Faujdar was in charge of the sarkar. He was to carry out the orders of the Governor and also keep himself in touch with them.Every sarkar was divided into many parganas or mahals. In every pargana there was a shiqdar, amil, potdar and a few bitikchis. Shiqdar was in charge of the administration of the pargana. His duty was to maintain law and order within his jurisdiction. The Kotwal was the chief administrator of a town. Every city was divided into many wards or mohallas.


The head of the province was known as the Sahib- i- Subahdar or Nazim.He was assisted by the Diwan, Bakshi, Faujdar, Kotwal, Qazi, Sadar, Amil,Potdar,Qanungo and Patwari.Provinces were divided into Sarkars and parganas.All the administration of the province was centralized at the capital town. The Mughals were essentially urban people. Villages were left free and were not interfered with so long as there was no violent crime or defiance of royal authority.

The subedar possessed both civil and military authority. He was the representative of the king in the province. He could not declare war or make peace without the permission of the Emperor. He heard appeals from the decisions of the Qazis and Mir Adils but could not inflict capital punishment without the approval of the Emperor. He was in charge of the provincial forces and collection of revenue and to execute the royal decrees and regulations sent to him. He was to send reports regarding the state of affairs in his province. The subedars were transferred after intervals of two- three years. It was feared that if they continue to work at one place for a long time they might become too powerful.


The Diwan was the second important official in the province after Subedar. His position was to keep check on the working of subedar. The Diwan-i- Ashraf selected him. It was his duty to carry out the orders of the Imperial Diwan. He was to collect revenue, try revenue cases and improve agriculture. He had control over the finances of the province and no payment could be made without his sanction. He was required to cooperate with the subedar in the administration of the province. If there were differences between subedar and Diwan the matter was referred to the Emperor.


Faujdars were appointed by the central government and his main duty was to help subedar. They were put in charge of important sub divisions of the province. Their appointment and dismissal was in the hands of subedar. They were the commanders of the provincial troops. They helped the subedar to maintain law and order in the province and punish the rebellious elements.


Sadar was appointed by the central government to supervise the rent-free lands granted for religious and charitable purposes. He had a separate office of his own. He was more independent than the Diwan. He could grant lands and allowances on his own initiative. Qazis and Amils worked under him.


Amil was a revenue collector and had many duties to perform. He was required to deal with the rebels even if it led to the land remaining uncultivated. It was his duty to see the quality of land improved and wasteland was brought under cultivation. He was to supervise the work of revenue collection.

Bakshi was the paymaster of the provincial forces .He worked under Mir Bakshi.


Bitikchi acted as a check on the Amil and enjoyed the same status as that of the Amil.He prepared abstracts of revenue every season and was required to send an annual report to the Emperor. He had to supervise the work of Qanungo.

Potdar or Khizandar

His duty was to receive money from the cultivators and keep the same in the treasury. Whenever a payment was made to him he issued receipts and kept their account. He was not to make any payment without a voucher signed by the Diwan.


The duties of the Kotwal included magisterial powers in some cases. He was responsible for the maintenance of law and order in the city. He examined weights and measures and made of list of property of those who had no heirs and will. He employed spies from the residents to keep a check on the dissenters and rebels.

Waqai- Navis

He was the record keeper of occurrences in the province. The central government was kept in touch with the affairs of the provinces.