akṣapaṭala

(‘depository of legal documents’)

A study of the Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya (400 B. C.-A.D. 200) reveals that the administration of a State was fairly well-organized even from the modern stan-dards. One of the departments described in detail is the ‘akṣapaṭala,’ the department which preserved legal documents and records of accounts. The doors of this office building faced north or east with rooms for the clerical staff and sufficient accommodation for account books and documents. The adhyakṣa (superintendent) of this section had to maintain strictly all accounts pertaining to taxes, dues and fines and take measures to prevent embezzlement of State funds. It was also his duty to maintain a register of the dharma (customs, usages, methods of judicial procedures) of the various caste groups, families and corporations.