You must have heard about the term ‘ accountability ‘ of public servants . But do you know that accountability in India in medieval times was significantly higher than the present democratic era.

Sher Shah, the Sur emperor, placed considerable emphasis on justice. Sher Shah made the local village headmen known as muqaddams and zamindars responsible for any loss that a merchant suffered on the roads.

If the goods were stolen, the muqaddams and the zamindars had to produce them, or point out the haunts of the thieves or highway robbers, failing which they had to undergo the punishment meant for thieves and robbers. The same law was applied in case of murders on roads.

It was a barbarous law to make the innocent responsible for the wicked but it was effective.

It is said that even if a very old woman with a basketful of gold ornaments on her head would go on a journey, no thief or robber would come near her for fear of the punishment which Sher Shah inflicted.

Later, Sher Shah’s son and successor Islam Shah took a big step forward in the dispensation of justice by codifying the laws, thus doing away with the necessity of depending on a special set of people who could interpret the Islamic law.




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