(Last Updated on : 27-11-2010)
Superintendent of tolls, as mentioned in Chapter XXI of Book II in Arthashastra
, had been in the charge of collecting toll taxes at the toll gates where the merchants arrived. Superintendent of tolls shall erect near the large gates of the city both toll houses and its flag facing either north or south. He shall appoint four to five officers who shall take down the details of the merchants as from where they come, what amount of merchandise they bring along with them and from where the seal marks have been made for the first time. The superintendent of tolls shall also be responsible for checking the quantity, price and payment of toll taxes at the gate. He shall also provide security to the people coming from outside loot and plunder after they cross the state flags erected in the main gate.
Superintendent of tolls shall impose twice the amount of toll on those merchandise who have not been stamped with seal marks. Counterfeit of seals shall pay eight times of the toll; if the seal marks are torn or mishandled the merchants will be questioned and if one type of seal is used against another type of product then it will call for a payment of 11/4 panas for each load. The merchandise shall be compelled to declare his quantity and price and sell it to those who demand it and if any of the merchant is found enhancing his price without paying a toll to the king. In such cases the merchants will be made to pay eight times tax.
Superintendent of tolls will further make efforts to ascertain the merchants that in case there is a price rise in comparison to the bidders then the king shall receive the enhanced amount which clearly denotes that all the commodities should be sold only after they are precisely weighted, measured and numbered. In case of inferior commodities toll taxes will be assessed carefully. Few commodities are exempted from toll tax as things which are presented by the girl's parents as gifts. The commodities which are smuggled shall be punished with highest amercement.
Superintendent of tolls will then appoint officers in charge of collecting road cess from which they themselves will receive a panna and quarter of the road cess; the officers will also receive a masha on head-load of merchandise. The officer in charge after verifying the quality of all foreign products as inferior or superior quality, the amount of toll tax will be sent to the Superintendent of tolls. Superintendent of tolls shall also have the powers to send spy to the traders to collect information regarding the quantity and quality of the merchandise they possess.
Thus, superintendent of tolls is mainly responsible for fixing the rate of, collection of and receiving toll taxes from the merchandise coming from other kingdoms which shall be added to the royal treasury. Like commerce and other money making agencies of the government, tolls also form a major part of governments' earnings.