(Last Updated on : 06/12/2010)
Determination of legal disputes, after determining the valid and invalid agreements then decides the procedure through which it is executed .Chapter I of Book III in Arthashastra
, defines the procedures of trials, role as well as paroktas and procedure of adjournment elaborates which is required to determined legal disputes.
Determination of legal disputes begins its working with the procedure of trial which includes the complete details regarding the year, season, month, fortnight, date, the nature and the place of deed, the amount of debts as well as the country, residence, caste, gotra, the name and the occupation of both the plaintiff and the defendant both of whom should be fit to sue and defend, must be registered before followed by the statements of both shall be collected in such a way as is required for the case. These statements shall be thoroughly scrutinised.
Determination of Legal disputes then considers the presentation made by the parokta or the parties involved. If the parties involved deliver inconsistent statements or leave their original issue and resolves to another issue, or when he deliberately avoids all the questions which are asked to him or asks for the participation of any third person when not required, all these shall be considered as offences of paroktas .As such arthashastra puts down a number of punishments in case there is offence of paroktas.
Determination of legal disputes declares a list of punishments in case there is discrepancy of statements on both the disputants; or if there is inconsistency of issues which shall mislead the judging authorities; or if there is disagreement in answering the questions asked to them. This is known as offence of paroktas which shall involve a fine which is five times more than the amount; fine for self assertion which is ten times than the amount and again fine for witnesses which is 1/8th of the amount shall be included. In case of other cases like those of robbery or duel or cases between two merchants or trade guilt, the defenders shall file no counter case against the plain thrift nor there do any counter case on the defender.
Regarding procedure of adjournment the plaintiff shall answer immediately soon after the defender has answered his questions; if perhaps the plaintiff fails to answer he shall be found guilty. At the same time if the defender claims to be not prepared for the prosecution he shall be given a period of three to seven nights beyond which he shall be punished a fine ranging from 3 to 12 panas. And if he does not answer even after three fortnights he shall be punished as a parokta and the defendant shall recover all his property as the amount of the case. The same punishment shall be meted out if the defendant fails to defend himself.
Determination of legal dispute shall depend on the four major wheels of justice which includes sacred laws (dharma), evidences (vyavahara), history (charitra) and edicts of the king (rajasasana) among which the ultimate authority is the king's verdict. Kautilya
makes full efforts to secure the level of virtue in case of delivering statement on a particular issue.
Thus, determination of legal dispute has been one of the most important activities of the king along with classification of types of agreements which forms the legal base of the Maurya Empire
. The main intension of Arthashastra is to guide the king to deliver a decision which is sound, rational and virtuous mainly depending on the sacred laws, evidences, history and verdicts of the king making it an ultimate law of land.