Sanad an official term used in Mughal administration expressing the authority, original or delegated, to confer a privilege, make a grant, give diploma and issue a charter or a patent. It is also a state-recognised document granting on an individual or institution titles, offices, privileges, etc. Normally a sanad granted by the emperor who requires obedience from all and sundry was called a farman. Thus the sanad granted by Emperor farrukh siyar to the east india company in 1717 is called a farman. Similarly, Emperor Shah Alam granted the diwani of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa to the East India Company in 1765 by a farman. A farman from the sovereign was also called sanad-e-milkiat.

A sanad may be for a term or in perpetuity. All jagirs, zamindaris, madaad-e-maash (educational land grants), altamgahs (rent-free grants to religious establishments) were granted by issuing sanads. The subahdars and diwans, as representatives of the emperor, were authorised to issue similar sanads with intimation to the emperor. Such a patent was called sanad-i- muttabik. When a zamindar died without an heir or if any zamindar was dispossessed for any reason, a new zamindar was appointed by issuing sanad-i-zamindar. During the company rule, all documents defining rights and obligations of contracting parties were loosely called sanads. The native amla used to call the covenanted officers of the company sanadi because they came to serve the company state under the terms and conditions of a covenant with the seal of the court of directors. [Sirajul Islam]