Kautilya Arthashastra

by R. Shamasastry | 1956 | 174,809 words | ISBN-13: 9788171106417

The English translation of Arthashastra, which ascribes itself to the famous Brahman Kautilya (also named Vishnugupta and Chanakya) and dates from the period 321-296 B.C. The topics of the text include internal and foreign affairs, civil, military, commercial, fiscal, judicial, tables of weights, measures of length and divisions of time. Original ...

Chapter 8 - Detection of Embezzlement

Summary: Detection of what is Embezzled by Government Servants out of State Revenue.

All undertakings depend upon finance. Hence foremost attention shall be paid to the treasury.

Public prosperity (pracārasamṛddhi), rewards for good conduct (charitrānugraha), capture of thieves, dispensing with (the service of too many) government servants, abundance of harvest, prosperity of commerce, absence of troubles and calamities (upasargapramokṣa), diminution of remission of taxes, and income in gold (hiraṇyopāyana) are all conducive to financial prosperity.

Obstruction (pratibandha), loan (prayoga), trading (vyavahāra), fabrication of accounts (avastāra), causing the loss of revenue (parihāpaṇa), self-enjoyment (upabhoga), barter (parivartana), and defalcation (apahāra) are the causes that tend to deplete (the treasury).

Failure to start an undertaking or to realise its results, or to credit its profits (to the treasury) is known as obstruction. Herein a fine of ten times the amount in question shall be imposed.

Lending the money of the treasury on periodical interest is a loan.

Carrying on trade by making use of government money is trading.

These two acts shall be punished with a fine of twice the profit earned.

Whoever makes as unripe the ripe time or as ripe the unripe time (of revenue collection) is guilty of fabrication. Herein a fine of ten times the amount (pañcabandha) shall be imposed.

Whoever lessens a fixed amount of income or enhances[1] the expenditure is guilty of causing the loss of revenue. Herein a fine of four times the loss shall be imposed.

Whoever enjoys himself or causes others to enjoy whatever belongs to the king is guilty of self-enjoyment. Herein death sentence shall be passed for enjoying gems, middlemost amercement for enjoying valuable articles, and restoration of the articles together with a fine equal to their value shall be the punishment for enjoying articles of inferior value.

The act of exchanging government articles for (similar) articles of others is barter. This offence is explained by self-enjoyment.

Whoever does not take into the treasury the fixed amount of revenue collected, or does not spend what is ordered to be spent,[2] or misrepresents[3] the net revenue collected, is guilty of defalcation of government money. Herein a fine of twelve times the amount shall be imposed.

There are about forty ways of embezzlement: what is realised earlier is entered later on;[4] what is realised later is entered earlier;[5] what ought to be realised is not realised; what is hard to realise is shown as realised;[6] what is collected is shown as not collected; what has not been collected is shown as collected; what is collected in part is entered as collected in full; what is collected in full is entered as collected in part; what is collected is of one sort,[7] while what is entered is of another sort; what is realised from one source is shown as realised from another; what is payable is not paid; what is not payable is paid; not paid in time;[8] paid untimely;[9] small gifts made large gifts; large gifts made small gifts; what is gifted is of one sort while what is entered is of another; the real donee is one while the person entered (in the register) as donee is another; what has been taken into (the treasury) is removed while what has not been credited to it is shown as credited; raw materials that are not paid for are entered, while those that are paid for are not entered; an aggregate[10] is scattered in pieces; scattered items[11] are converted into an aggregate; commodities of greater value are bartered for those of small value; what is of smaller value is bartered for one of greater value; price of commodities enhanced; price of commodities lowered; number of nights increased;[12] number of nights decreased; the year not in harmony with its months; the month not in harmony with its days; inconsistency in the transactions[13] carried on with personal supervision (samāgamaviṣama); misrepresentation of the source of income; inconsistency in giving charities; incongruity[14] in representing the work turned out; inconsistency in dealing with fixed items; misrepresentation of test marks or the standard of fineness (of gold and silver); misrepresentation of prices of commodities; making use of false weights and measures; deception in counting articles; and making use of false cubic measures such as bhājana—these are the several ways of embezzlement.

Under the above circumstances, the persons concerned, such as the treasurer (nidhāyaka), the prescriber (nibandhaka), the receiver (pratigrāhaka), the payer (dāyaka), the person who caused the payment (dāpaka), the ministerial servants of the officer (mantrivaiyāvṛtyakara) shall each be separately examined. If any one of these tells a lie, he shall receive the same punishment as the chief officer (yukta) who committed the offence.

A proclamation in public (pracāra) shall be made to the effect “whoever has suffered at the hands of this offender may make their grievances known to the king.”

Those who respond to the call shall receive such compensation as is equal to the loss they have sustained.

When there are a number of offences in which a single officer is involved, and when his being guilty of parokta[15] in any one of those charges has been established, he shall be answerable for all those offences.[16] Otherwise (i.e. when it is not established), he shall be tried for each of the charges.

When a government servant has been proved to be guilty of having misappropriated part of a large sum in question, he shall be answerable for the whole.

Any informant (sūcaka) who supplies information about embezzlement just under perpetration shall, if he succeeds in proving it, get as reward one-sixth of the amount in question; if he happens to be a government servant (bhṛtaka), he shall get for the same act one-twelfth of the amount.

If an informant succeeds in proving only a part of a big embezzlement, he shall, nevertheless, get the prescribed share of the part of the embezzled amount proved.

An informant who fails to prove (his assertion) shall be liable to monetary or corporal punishment, and shall never be acquitted.

When the charge is proved, the informant may impute the tale bearing to someone else or clear himself in any other way from the blame. Any informant who withdraws his assertion prevailed upon by the insinuations of the accused shall be condemned to death.[17]

[Thus ends Chapter VIII, “Detection of what is Embezzled by Government Servants out of State Revenue,” in Book II, “The Duties of Government Superintendents” of the Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya. End of twenty-ninth chapter from the beginning.]

Footnotes and references:


In connection with the royal kitchen, etc.—Com. Of Bhaṭṭasvāmi’s commentary on the Arthaśāstra, only a small portion, extending from Chap. VIII to Chap. XXXVI, Book II, is available. The manuscript is, however, hopelessly corrupt.


Such as gift made by the king.


Vipratijānīte, denies the receipt.


Such as rice, etc.


Such as the late crops, wheat, etc.


Taxes from Brāhmans.


Such as pulses in place of rice, etc.


Not giving gifts on the occasion of marriages as ordered by the king.


Giving gift later with a view to force the receiver to give bribes to the officer or clerk.


Such as representing an assessment of 1,000 paṇas levied from a whole village as small individual assessments, making up the total in view of making use of a part of the taxes for himself under the pretext of non-payment of that part.—Com.


Making ryotwar assessments as village-assessments.


With a view to misappropriate the wages due for the increased or decreased days. The word “rātri”=night, is used both for day and night.—Com.


Stating that a labourer has been paid outside the office, while in reality no such payment has been made.


As in the case of the superintendent of boats misappropriating ferry dues under the false plea that only Brahmans crossed the river on a particular day,—Com.


Failure to prove one’s own position, either as a complainant or defendant. See Chap. I, Book III.—Tran.


If he defends himself satisfactorily. As a matter of self-conviction, each case shall be separately tried, lest the public set up by the defendant’s enemies may falsely accuse him.—Com.


In śloka-metre.

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