Qanungo maintained revenue papers, schedules of assessment, record of revenue collections, and kept full information about land records of the pargana. Under the Subah system of emperor Akbar, the districts (Sarkar) were sub-divided into parganas or mahals, serving as fiscal and police units. Each pargana had five principal officers, among them qanungo played a vital role for the revenue admistration of the Mughal revenue structure. Qanungo represented the people and received a commission on land revenue. Akbar made him a paid government officer in three different grades. In the sultanate period the khuts and muqaddams changed into chaudhurys of the Mughal period. The term chaudhury dates back to the Sultan, and they were then village headmen. Their duties were helping the officials in the assessment and collection of state demand in their areas. Sometimes the office of the chaudhury was combined with that of the qanungo, whose main duty was the maintenance of the schedules of crops production.
But in Mughal administration qanungo became an important official in the pargana administration. He prepared statement showing in detail the area cultivated, the crops grown and the expected or actual yield, copies of which were sent, after certification by the amil (Amalguzar of the district, responsible for survey and collection of revenue of the pargana), the chaudhury and the qanungo to the provincial diwan. He gave to each assessee a document called Patta which contained all data relating to the assessment of his holding. The assessee executed a deed confirming his acceptance of the assessment. He retained this document, called a qabuliyat, Assessment copies were sent to the office of the provincial diwan. Each Pargana had sevaral qanungos who kept the record of the annual medium yield of the areas. In certain areas the duties of a qanungo were combined with those of the chaudhary, who was also associated with the pargana administration as a person cognizant of the conditions in the pargana.
Abul fazal stated that in the 15th Ilahi year of emperor Akbar, Raza Todormal and Mojaffar Khan made a new assessment of the revenue collection and appointed ten new qanungos to collect the revenues of the provinces or the parganas from the Provincial qanungos and patwaries.
According to Riyaz-us-Salatin, qanungos, at least in some Provinces, were appointed at three different administrative levels, namely the subah, the sarkar and the pargana. The provincial Qanungo attested the accounts prepared by the Diwan for submission to the revenue ministry, the Sarkar Qanungo collected the revenue papers such as Muwazina, Dastar-ul-Amal, the list of villages and other explanatory notes from the Pargana Qanungo attested them with his signature and forwarded them to the Revenue Ministry. The Qanungo of a sarkar also exercised some supervisory authority over the conduct and action of the Pargana Qanungo. Generally, there was one qanungo in a pargana, but in certain parganas there could be more than one qanungo. Specially the appointment of pargana officials including the qanungo was made by the central government and he was independent of the amil.
The most important function of the qanungo was to maintain a complete record of the various interests in land and of the usages and regulations respecting the notes and modes of assessment. He maintained a numbers of registers, which provided complete information about the agrarian conditions in the paragna. He also obtained and maintained copies of accounts and papers of revenue collections such as copies of the engagement of the zamindars or farmers for revenue settlement. The next functions were to record the various interests in land and note any changes and alternations effected on account of sales, mortgages or free gifts. Moreover the qanungo was associated with the work of assessment.
In the early years of Akbar's reign the qanungo was entitled to half of the collections made under the head of sad-doi of the patwari or two percent of commission paid to the patwari. Later on, Akbar changed the system and made it as a fixed salaried post. The payment was not made in cash, but lands yielding an estimated income equal to their salaries were assigned to them. Subsequent evidence relating to the first half of the eighteenth century however indicates that the practice of assigning lands to the qanungo was abandoned and they were paid in the form of commission collected from the raiyats. The qanungo was entitled to collect 2% from the share of the raiyats and this commission was known as rusum. [Nasrin Akhter]
Bibliography JN Sarkar, Mughal Polity, Delhi, IH Qureshi. The Administration of the Mughal Empire, Karachi, NA Siddiqi, Land Revenue Administration Under The Mughals (1700-1750), Bombay.