(Last Updated on : 04-12-2010)
Duty of Revenue Collector was one of the most important activities of state machinery which was introduced by Kautilya
in Maurya Empire
. As mentioned in chapter XXXV of Book II in Arthashastra
the revenue collector also known as collector general shall divide the kingdom into four major districts (janapada) which will further be divided into villages as of first, middle and lowest rank and the taxes shall be collected according to the sub divisions, namely, (i)villages that are exempted from taxes; (ii)the villages that supply soldiers; (iii) villages that pay their taxes in the form of grains, cattle and gold or raw materials; (iv) the villages who supply free labour and dairy produce in lieu of taxes. Revenue collector shall then delegate the duty of collecting revenue to the Gopas or village accountants who shall collect who shall attend to the accounts of five to ten villages as will be instructed by the collector general.
Duty of revenue collector shall include plotting of the grounds into cultivated, uncultivated, plains, wet lands, gardens, vegetable gardens, fences, forests, roads etc as has been mentioned in Arthashastra, on which he shall then register gifts, exempt them from taxes, or put them for sale as well as charity. Also he shall execute an extensive programme of numbering all the houses in the village as tax paying or as non tax paying. In this way he shall not only number the houses but also number the inhabitants of all four castes and keeps an account of exact number of cultivators, cowherds, merchants, artisans, labourers, slaves and animals which will help him to evaluate accurate tax to be collected from them.
Duty of a revenue collector allows the collector general to keep an account of all those who reside in the villages including the aged, old and dependents, young men, their background, history, occupation, income, expenditure etc. The collector general shall further make provision for the collection of religious taxes from the areas which fall in the under the gopas and sthanikas. Even the groups of spies under disguise shall ascertain the taxes to be paid o the state.
Duty of revenue collector, under Arthashastra, shall have the right to collect revenue from the emigrants and those who migrate to and from the state; road cess, conveyance cess, military cess, ferry cess and one sixth shall be levied on the merchants which shall include the charges of their subsistence and their lodging as well as the charges for accommodation in the warehouse. A substantial amount of the revenue is received from the groups of spies and espionage who shall gather information regarding the movement of the foreigners in the country.
Thus, the duty of revenue collector is supposed to attend to all the state functions while his subordinates under his supervision shall collect the revenue from all those areas which are mentioned in Arthashastra.