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Farman


Farman Mughal constitutional term meaning an irrevocable royal decree issued by the emperor. A farman carries the form of a bill made law by the assent of the head of the state. The emperor issued a farman not just as he pleased. Some established procedures were always observed while issuing an imperial farman. It was promulgated either in response to an application made by a subject to the emperor or as a royal policy decision. In either case, the matter was discussed first among the amirs of the Durbar and finally the wazir took the issue before the emperor for consultation. When the procedures were all in order, the farman would be finally drafted and read out to the emperor for his assent. On obtaining his assent the document was given the royal seal and given up to the Farmanbardar for announcement and implementation. If the farman was obtained through an application, the early part of the document was devoted to the justification and rationale of the farman and to the requirement of its obedience by all. The most well known example of a farman of this type is the one which Emperor shah alam ii issued (12 August 1765) to the east india company granting them the diwani of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. If the farman was promulgated as a policy decision, the necessity for such an action was recorded in the preamble to the farman.

Other terms for decrees at various cadres of royalty are hasbul hukum, nixan and parwana. A royal order signed by the Wazir was called a hasbul hukum. International treaties and agreements were normally executed through hasbul hukums. The subahdar or nawab also could issue decrees. If the subahdar or nawab happened to be a prince in the line of succession to the padxahi, the decree issued by him was called a nishan, and if not, a parwana. For example, shah shuja, subahdar of Bengal and son of shahjahan, had issued a nishan (1651) exempting the East India Company of customs duties in lieu of the payment of a fixed annual tribute of Rs 3000 to the sarkar. But the decrees issued by the non-princely nawabs were all parwanas. For example, Nawab sirajuddaula issued parwanas (not nishan) to the Company for dismantling all fortification works of their Calcutta settlement. The emperor could declare a nishan or parwana null and void if it was found to be inconsistent with the broader principles of imperial law and justice. For example, when emperor aurangzeb came to know that his grandson Prince Azimuddin (alias azim-us-shan), the subahdar of Bengal, was having a private monopoly trade in the country under the trade-name sauda-i-khas, which was established in the subah by a nishan, the emperor reprimanded him and declared his nishan invalid. The European collectors of Bengal districts issued Parwanas, in the sense of just orders, until the end of the nineteenth century. [Sirajul Islam]