Village accountant

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The Village Accountant (variously known as Patwari, Talati, Patel, Karnam, Adhikari, Shanbogaru,"Patnaik" etc.) is an administrative government position found in rural parts of the Indian sub-continent. The office and the officeholder are called the patwari in Telangana, Bengal, North India and in Pakistan while in Sindh it is called tapedar. The position is known as the karnam in Andhra Pradesh, patnaik in Orissa or adhikari in Tamil Nadu, while it is commonly known as the talati in Karnataka, Gujarat and Maharashtra. The position was known as the kulkarni in Northern Karnataka and Maharashtra. The position was known as the shanbogaru in South Karnataka.

Generally the Brahmins were appointed in these posts across India (especially in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Orissa) with few exceptions where people from Kayasth community were also appointed (in Uttar Pradesh).

Until the 1980s this post was by default given to Niyogi Brahmins in Andhra Pradesh. Later the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh N.T. Rama Rao abolished the system.


The Patwar system was first introduced during the short but eventful rule of Sher Shah Suri and the system was further enhanced by Emperor Akbar. The British colonial era made minor amendments but continued the system.

In 1814, legislation was enacted requiring all villages to maintain an accountant (talati) as an official agent of the government.[1] The Kulkarni Watan was abolished in 1918 and paid talatis from all castes were appointed to the new office of the Talati. In some cases, the talatis were the oppressed castes and the abolishing of the Kulkarni Watan system was viewed as a progressive move.[2]

The word is derived from the Sanskrit root tal which means to accomplish a vow, to establish or to fix.[3]


Talati is a word in the Gujarati and Marathi languages of India. It is used to denote the office of the Talati in rural parts of the Indian states of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka. The office and its holder are both called Talatis. Bearers of the office have adapted this as their family last name. The duties of a Talati include maintaining crop and land records (record of rights) of the village, collection of tax revenue, collection of irrigation dues.[4][5][6] The post of the Talati replaced that of the Kulkarni which no longer exists in Gujarat and Maharashtra.[7] The duties of a talati are performed in other states of India under a different title, for example the talati is called a Patwari in Andhra Pradesh.[7] Originally a land holding clerk, the talati is now a government appointed paid official.[5][8] A Patil (Patel in the state of Gujarat) is from outside the village and assists the Talati in collecting revenue. It has been alleged that the records maintained by the talati do not reflect the actual position on the ground because the talati did not take into account the tribal custom of using the name of the adult male member of the family for land possession.[9]

Amongst the administration, the talati has the closest connection with the village people.[10] The talati is generally in charge of a group of villages called a saza and they are required to reside in that saza unless they get approval from the Collector to reside outside of the saza. However the majority of the talatis were found to be in violation of this rule.[11] The talati belongs to the Brahmin caste in most cases[6] and is generally looked up to in the villages because of being a representative of the government.[12]

Duties of the Talati[edit]

In 1814, duties of the talati included preserving village records, monitoring daily activities, and gathering information about individuals, including mukhis and village elites.[1]

In 1882, the Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency records the duty of the talati as that of a village accountant with a charge of about 8-10 villages. The talati's pay scale for this was £12 - £18 (Rs. 120 – Rs. 180) per year. The talati was supposed to live anywhere within these villages and was supposed to visit each village every month to understand people's needs. The talati then reported these needs to the sub-divisional manager in the sub-divisional office. Additionally, the Talati was also required to give each landholder an account showing the landholders dues.[10] In August 1891 the pay of the talati is recorded as being poor.[13]

In 1884, Elphinstone says that the duties of the talati are excellent in promoting the advantage of the government but they have a tendency to extinguish the authority of the Patel and recommends that care should be taken to bring talati's power within its natural bounds to remove interference from the duties of the Patel.[12] The appointment of the talati was viewed negatively by village chiefs who felt he assumed the characteristic of a representative of the government, receiving complaints. The talati was appointed when the Kulkarni or Watandar, the hereditary accountant is absent from the village or district scene.[14] The talati is also involved in collecting data related to census. This is an annual activity occurring after the Mrig each year.[15]

The talati's peers are called the patwari in Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Northern India, and karnam in Tamil Nadu.[7][14]


Patwari or Patel are terms used in India and Pakistan for a land record officer at sub-division or Tehsil level. As the lowest state functionary in the Revenue Collection system, his job encompasses visiting agricultural lands and maintaining a record of ownership and tilling (girdawary). Due to their primary base in rural areas, where literacy and wealth is low, they yield a larger-than-life influence in the local community and are notorious for demanding bribe and changing land records at will. With the computerization of land records, their ability to manipulate records has been limited. The Government of India has developed a software system called Patwary Information System (PATIS) which was deployed in at least two districts as of 2005 with deployment at the Tehsil level underway.[16] Patwary reports to Tehsildar or a chief clerk of Tehsils land records.[17] The Government of Punjab (Pakistan) as well develop a Land Software with the name of Land Revenue Management Information System (LRMIS).

The Patwari can wield significant power and influence with even feudal lords seeking his favour.[18] There have been cases of corrupt patwaris escaping punishment due to their position and political connections.[19] The Patwaris are equivalent to karnams in the Telugu Brahmin sect, or Patel, a sect of Reddys and Munnuru Kapu in Telangana were also appointed as Patels, Patwaris, Police Patels.

Many holders of the title now use Patwary as their family last name in Karnataka and a few other parts of South India. The peer of a patwari in Maharashtra and Karnataka is the talati.

Duties of Patwari[edit]

A patwari has three chief duties:

  1. The maintenance of record of the crop grown at every harvest.
  2. The keeping of the record of rights up to date by the punctual record of mutations.
  3. The account of preparation of statistical returns embodying the information derived from the harvest inspections, register of mutation and record of rights.[17]

Documents related to Patwari[edit]

The patwari system has unique and old terminologies and nomenclature for its documents. Following are some main documents related to patwaris:

  1. Fard: A document showing details of ownership about a piece of land as per in the books of patwary.---- It should be noted that Fard which is kept with the patwari is the record of the revenue—which keeps details of the person who is paying revenue to the government for that land—It is not the final evidence for establishing the ownership of a property—At best the Fard can be additional piece of evidence which along with other proofs can establish the title of a person upon a property. Fard is just like entries in municipal records in the urban areas—as house tax can be given to the government for a piece of land in urban area even by a tenant—but that does not mean that by paying house tax and entering as the payer of the house tax in the municipal records the tenant can ever become the owner of the property as in that case the tenant is only securing his own interest [possession]in the land—but that does not give him ownership of the land. Likewise with the Fard where the person whose name is mentioned in the Fard may be or may not be the owner of property. But still the person whose name is mentioned in the Fard is bound to have some interest in the land which can be in the lease holder or mortgagee or something like that—which depends upon the facts and circumstances of the each case. --- It was held in the case of Lokesh Sanyal Vs. State of M.P.- Judgment given by the Madhya Pradesh High Court- in the year- 2007—and published in the Law Journal—Recent Civil Reports—2007 Vol. No.5 RCR [Civil] 636 [M.P.] [Gwalior Bench]-- Relevancy of record of Municipal Corporation—Municipal Corporation cannot decide the question of Title—Its ords containing entries is maintained for fiscal purpose like Property Tax/House Tax Etc.
  2. Pertt Patwar: A copy of record showing the detail of transfer record. (You can pronounce Pertt as Per-ath )
  3. Pertt Sarkar: When a Partt Patwar is attested it is called Pertt Sarkar.
  4. Girdawary
  5. Jamabandi : Also called B1 / khatouni kishtwar. It consists of the record of land holders and Land revenue as per every Khata private as well as Govt. Land . It is prepared by using Khasra .


Under the Indian land record system, Girdawary is the record of land cultivation. It records the crop and ownership of the crop. The record is maintained by the Patwary in Andhra Pradesh, by the Talati in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Karnataka and other similar title holders in other states of India. The Government of India has developed a software system called Patwari Information System (PATIS) that includes girdawary in its scope.[16] PATIS was deployed in at least two districts as of 2005 with deployment at the Tehsil level underway.

Local landlords must ensure that Girdawary stays in their name, otherwise; if someone else is shown as cultivating the land for an extended period of time, they can claim possession of the land, resulting in a dispute of land ownership.

Some terms of relevance are:[14]

  1. Khasra number - a number assigned to a block of land.
  2. Murabba - a land block of 25 acres (100,000 m2).
  3. Patti - a composition of Khasra numbers.
  4. Intkaal - a notice required after registering a piece of land in one's name. One has to inform the Tehsil to update their records.
  5. Wakf board - a government institution in India to manage Muslim religious and community land.
  6. Haq shufa - preemption right- blood relative or tiller can claim right to repurchase property at sale price within one year should it be sold to an outsider.
  7. Muzaira - a cultivator who does not own land.
  8. Vasiyat - a soul
  9. Khatouni - revenue record
  10. Ntkaal - it used to be the responsibility of buyer but now with computerization this process has become automatic in India.

Several other terms are used. Some of them are listed here: Theka, Khevat, Kilabandi, Registry, Fard, Mushtarka, Chhijraa, Degree, Decree, Takseem, Halfia Bayaan, Mutation.


A jamabandi is a term used in India meaning "rights of records" and refers to land records.

These records are documents which are maintained for each village within its Tehsil.  Missing or empty |title= (help)"Jamabandi".  It contains the name of the owners, area of cultivation/land, shares of owners and other Rights. It is revised after a certain period of time for e.g. in states like Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan it is revised after 5 years. After it is prepared by Patwari (Govt. official who keeps and maintains Rights of Records"District administration". ) it is attested by Revenue Officer of that division. Two copies of jamabandi are made, one is kept in Government's Record room and other is kept with Patwari. All changes in title/interests of the revenue estate coming into the notice of Revenue Authorities are duly reflected in the Jamabandi according to set procedures.

In many states like Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, land records have been computerised."Land records". Government of Himachal Pradesh. "Land records". Government of Harayana.  In these states, Jamabandi is prepared using software, and it is later checked by the patwari for errors. After it is corrected or approved by the patwari, a final printout is taken which is later attested by the Revenue officer. In these states Jamabandis are also made available on websites.


also called chain in English In India Madhya Pradesh there are many types of chain / jareeb used to measure the Land Area

  1. Gwalior Jareeb = 75 feet long, 100 kari, each kari is 9 inches long
  2. Indore jareeb = 66 feet long, 100 kari it is also called Gantree Jareeb
  3. Metric jareeb = 20 meters long, 100 kari, 20 cm long
  4. shahjahani jareeb = 55 gaj (165 feet) long' 200 kari, but in use it is half 100 kari & 82.5 feet long.

Units of measurement[edit]

Some of the key land measurement units used by the village accountant are given below:

  1. 8 Kanals = 1 Acre
  2. Acre is also called quilla ghumaon
  3. 20 marlas = 1 kanal
  4. 160 marlas = 1 acre
  5. 1 marla = 9 square karams
  6. 1 marla = 272.25 square feet
  7. 1 karam = 66" 57"
  8. 1 acre = 2 bigas[citation needed]
  1. 1 acre = 1 and 3/5 bigas[citation needed]
  2. 1 Biswa = 440 sq. Feet
  3. 1 Beegha = 20 Biswa / 22500 sq. Feet (In Rajasthan it is 165X165 square feet i.e. 27225)
  4. 1 Beegha = 209 Are ( Gwalior Chain)
  5. 1 Biswansi = 22 sq. feet.
  6. 1 Biswa = 20 Biswansi
  7. 1 Kiswasi = 2.8125 sq. Feet.
  8. 1 Guntha = 121 Sq Yard.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Chaturvedi, Vinayak (2007). Peasant pasts: history and memory in western India. University of California Press. p. 40. ISBN 978-0-520-25078-9. 
  2. ^ Naqvi, K. A. (1978). The Indian economic and social history review. 15. HighWire Press. p. 15. 
  3. ^ Monier-Williams, Sir Monier (1963). A Sanskrit-English dictionary. Motilal Banarasidas. p. 440. ISBN 81-208-3105-5. 
  4. ^ Heredia, Susana (1972). A patriot for me: a biographical study of Sardar Patel. p. 239. 
  5. ^ a b India Office of the Registrar General (1962). Census of India, 1961, Volume 5, Part 6, Issue 6. 5. 
  6. ^ a b Fukutake, Tadashi; Ōuchi, Tsutomu; Nakane, Chie (1964). The socio-economic structure of the Indian village: surveys of villages in Gujarat and West Bengal. Institute of Asian Economic Affairs. pp. 76–77. 
  7. ^ a b c Shukla, J. D (1976). State and district administration in India. pp. xii, 63. 
  8. ^ Ātre, Trimbaka Nārāyaṇa. The village cart: translation of T.N. Atre's Gaav gada. pp. 65, 78. ISBN 978-81-7154-863-7. 
  9. ^ Trivedi, Harshad R. Tribal land systems: land reform measures and development of tribals. p. 154. 
  10. ^ a b Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency: Thana. VIII. 1882. p. 573. 
  11. ^ Dantwala, Mohanlal Lalloobhai; Shah, C. H. (1971). Evaluation of Land Reforms: General report. pp. 167, 179–180. 
  12. ^ a b Elphinstone, Mountstuart; Forrest, Sir G. W. (George William) (1884). Writings of Mountstuart Elphinstone. pp. 490, 479. 
  13. ^ Shelly, C. E. (1892). Transactions of the Seventh International Congress of Hygiene and Demography. 11. p. 116. 
  14. ^ a b c Baden-Powell, Baden Henry (1896). The Indian village community: examined with reference to the physical, ethnographic, and historical condition of the provinces; chiefly on the basis of the revenue-settlement records and district manuals. pp. 598, 735–736. 
  15. ^ Baines, J. A. (1882). Imperial census of 1881: Operations and results in the Presidency of Bombay including Sind. I. p. 260. 
  16. ^ a b Habibullah, Wajahat; Ahuja, Manoj, eds. (2005). Land Reforms in India: Computerisation of Land Records. 10. Sage Publications India. pp. 42, 195, 197–198, 202. ISBN 978-0-7619-3347-2. 
  17. ^ a b "District administration - Naib Tehsildar". 
  18. ^ "Power of the patwary". Dawn. 
  19. ^ "Corrupt Patwarys go scot-free : ACE helpless". Dawn. 

External links[edit]