ADMINISTRATIVE STRUCTURE DELHI SULTANATE


ADMINISTRATIVE STRUCTURE DELHI SULTANATE

As the Delhi Sultanate grew and consolidated, new administrative structures also started to emerge.

The administrative structures and institutions that were established in India were inspired by the new rulers brought from the MongolsSeljukids, etc.

Administrative institutions emerged at various levels–national, regional, and local–during the Sultanate era.

Throughout the time of the Sultanate, the administrative system was led by the Sultan who was assisted by numerous nobles.

Along with the Sultan’s office, there were numerous other offices.

The Sultan was supported by a Council of Ministers Majlis-i-Khalwat.

 

THE SULTAN

The Sultan was the centerpiece of institutional setup.

He was the head of the Army’s civil administration and Supreme Commander.

He made all the promos and appointments.

He was the head of the judiciary, too.

The Sultan’s status had always been under pressure from the influential aristocracy community and Ulema.

Delhi sultans pursued various tactics to keep those groups under power.

Balban had firmly held the nobles under his thumb.

The Sultan’s personality had an important part to play in the Sultanate’s administrative structure.

 

NOBILITY

The nobles were the state’s most powerful officials and enjoyed a high social standing. In the initial stage, they were those officers who came along with the triumphant army. Their descendants formed the main power over a period of time and some Indian groups even appeared.

Nobles, particularly those based in Delhi, emerged as a very powerful party, and sometimes even played a part in the sultan’s selection.

The nobility had not been a homogenous class.

There were various groups within the nobility and there were always conflicts and rivalries between the intergroup.

The Chahalgan group (a group of 40 nobles), which Iltutmish had founded, also emerged quite powerful.

Balban was the first Sultan to bring the nobility firmly under his influence (interestingly, he had previously been a part of chalalgan).

The nobles Qutubuddin Aibak and Iltutmish had found themselves to be on par.

Balban distanced himself from the nobility and imposed a strict code of conduct for himself and the nobility.

He also emphasized high blood and found it essential for high positions and offices.

The nobility was opened to citizens of various backgrounds during the rule of the Khalji and Tughlaqs.

The low caste men, both Hindus and Muslims entered the nobility and in particular under Muhammad Bin Tughlaq could rise to high positions.

The Afghan principle of equality became important during the Lodi era when the Sultan was regarded as “first among equals.”

The nobles thus enjoyed equal rank to the Sultan.

Many of the Lodi Sultans such as Sikandar Lodi and Ibrahim Lodi found this unpleasant and sought to take charge of the nobles.

The nobles opposed this which led to both the Sultans having trouble.

 

ULEMA

The Muslim religious community of intellectuals was collectively referred to as Ulema.

People within this community handled religious affairs and interpreted Sultan’s religious regulations.

They were also in charge of judicial affairs and they served at various levels as Qazis.

The Ulema used to pressurize the sultan to rule the Sultanate according to Islamic religious laws.

Sultan like Alauddin Khalji may have dismissed Ulema’s views on a variety of issues but others have followed their thread.

 

WIZARAT

The Diwan-i-Wizarat, led by the wazir, was the most powerful office, after Sultan.

His position was as general supervisor of all departments, although he was one of the four main heads of the department.

He became the Sultan’s Chief Counselor.

The main functions of the wazir were:

[1] to look after the financial organization of the State,

[2] to give advice to the Sultan,

[3] to lead military expeditions at Sultan’s behest.

[4] The wizarat or the office of wazir also kept a check on land revenue collections.

[5] Further, the Mints, the intelligence departments, the royal buildings and other bodies affiliated to the royal court were supervised by the wizarat.

 

Departments which worked under the wizarat:

[1] Mustaufi-i-Mumalik (Auditor-General)

[2] Mushrif-i-Mumalik (Accountant General)

[3] Majmuadar (Keeper of loans and balances from the treasury)

[4] Diwan-i -Waqoof (to supervise expenditure)

[5] Diwan-i- Mustakharaj (to look into the arrears of revenue payments)

[6] Diwan-i-Amir Kohi (to bring uncultivated land into cultivation through state support).

 

DIWAN-I-ARZ

The department of DIWAN-I-ARZ was set up to look after the empire’s military organization.

Ariz-i-Mumalik was the head of it.

He was in charge of conducting military affairs.

He maintained the royal contingent, trained the soldiers, ensured the army’s discipline and health, inspected the Iqta-holders ‘ troops, checked the horses, and painted them with the royal insignia.

To order to improve his power over the army, Alauddin Khalji implemented the system of Dagh (branding) and huliya (description) and cash payments to the soldiers.

 

DIWAN-I-INSHA

Department DIWAN-I-INSHA looked after correspondence from the administration.

Dabir-i-Khas led it up.

He prepared and submitted royal orders, and obtained reports from various officers.

The Dabir was the official contact mechanism between the empire’s Center and other regions.

He was also a sort of the Sultan’s private secretary and was responsible for addressing the farmers.

The Barid-i-Mumalik was in charge of collecting state news and dealing with intelligence.

There were obstacles at the local level that used to send daily news about state problems to the central office.

Besides barids there also existed another group of reporters known as Munihiyan.

 

DIWAN-I-RASALAT

This department deals with the Justice Department.

It was headed by Sadr-us-Sadr who was the qazi-i-mumalik, too.

He was the top religious official and was responsible for ecclesiastical affairs.

He also appointed the qazis (judges) and approved numerous charitable grants such as waqf, wazifa, Idrar, etc. The Sultan was the highest civil and criminal court of appeal. There was Qazi-i-mumalik beside him.

The department of justice was aided by the Muhtasibs (Public Censors).

Their key mission was to see no public violation of Islam’s tenets.

 

OTHER DEPARTMENTS

The center had a number of smaller departments that helped in the empire’s daily administration.

Wakil-i-dar watched over the royal household and handled the Sultan’s personal services.

The royal ceremonies were attended to by Amir-i-Hajib.

The royal guards were looked after by Sar-i-Jandar.

Amir-i-Akhur was in charge of horse establishment and Shahnah-i-fil was in charge of elephant establishment.

Amir-i-Majlis was in charge of organizing the meetings and special ceremonies.

The Royal Workshops (Karkhanas) played a significant role within the Sultanate’s administrative structure.

Via Karkhanas the royal household needs were met.