Sunday, June 21, 2015

Fine regimes in earlier days

There are precedents for Ferguson. "In eighteenth-century Bengal and Bihar under East India Company administration, fines were part of the tax toll in each district, and cases were judged and fines collected by the tax farmer or tax collector in each area. Fines varied by capacity to pay. In this region "women were appointed to discover cases of fornication and adultery, which were fined heavily on the production of the slightest evidence". More than a century later, in the division of Bakarganj (now in Barisal district of Bangladesh) J.C.Jack, a settlement officer, observed that malicious complaints were encouraged, interference in village quarrels was extensive, and fines for the most trivial offences wee enormous. Jack obtained the account book of one landlord, which closely resembles the tax farmers' accounts from eighteenth-century western India. The landlord, for example, fined one of tenants for an alleged affair with his own mother-in-law.Logically enough, state functionaries punished those who settled disputes without paying the state; so, for example, two men of mercantile castes in Jaipur kingdom who settled their own quarrel were then fined for not reporting it to the state. Community councils and pancayats were fined if local councils disliked their decision, or if they failed to notify the state. Similarly, in the Pesva's territories in 1766, an official who committed some infraction of religious law and arranged purification rituals without state sanction was fined the considerable sum of 3,000 rupees. So in addition to being s source of political power for the ruling houses, family broils and sexual misconduct also supplied important fiscal resources..............Considerable sums were also raised by interference in family affairs; the rich banker Hari Cintaman Patwardhan adopted a son in 1793-1794 and paid 22,000 rupees for permission to do so." from Chapter four, 132 of "Beyond Caste' by Sumit Guha

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