(Last Updated on : 06/12/2010)
Recovery of Debts in chapter XI of Book III in Arthashastra
mentions that interest based on panas shall be based on a panna a quarter per month shall be the just assessment. The commercial interest shall be five panas per month per cent while ten panas per month shall prevail for the forests and twenty panas shall prevail for the sea traders. Anyone who exceeds these rates shall be punishable.
Recovery of debts mentions that the nature of transaction between creditors and debtors, on which the welfare of the state depends shall always be scrutinised. Interests in grains in the month of good harvest shall not exceed more than half and those in case of stocks shall be one half of profit which should be paid at the expiry of every one year. Generally the accounts for debts shall include recovery of debts from all those who are either engaged in offering sacrifices or in diseases or are detained in the houses of their teachers. Any creditor refusing to receive the debt shall have to pay a fine of 12 panas. Sons of the deceased debtor shall be forced to pay the principle amount with interest to the king. In the absence of sons, kinsmen claiming the share or the joint partners shall have to pay the amount. Any debt which has no time limit shall be repaid by the sons, grandsons and such surviving family members.
Recovery of debts provides certain criteria under which except the debtor no other shall be sued for its repayment. When the debtor goes trio abroad without payment of his dues, his family will not be sued; also in conditions when the debtor dies leaving his wife without any knowledge regarding the debts, in such condition the wife shall not be sued. In case of witnesses it is obligatory at least three witnesses are to be produced at the time of contract, in case of non availability of three at least two are necessary but not one shall be accepted. Wives, sons, co partners and so on shall not be considered as witnesses; anyone other than the listed shall be considered as witness.
Recovery of debts then mentions about the steps involved taking oath in which Arthashastra mentions that when oath is taken by someone else other than a Brahman; all oaths are to be taken in front of Brahman who shall prepare the statement as mentioned in the Arthashastra. The treatise provides different statements for different class of people which shall vary from Sudra to Brahmans. Any false statement as well as false witness shall have to repay ten times the amount if it causes loss.
Thus, recovery of debts as mentioned in the Arthashastra mentions all the procedures with which the state can recover all debts which remained unnoticed till now.