Iqta System

The conquest of Mohammad Ghori and establishment of the Sultanate brought major changes in the land revenue system in India. The Governments in those times made all attempts to increase the revenue by collecting taxes as per those in Islamic nations. The new taxes were imposed upon people and government’s share in produce increased. However, till that time, the original form of Hindu system of Land tenure as per ancient Manu’s laws survived with some modifications done by some of the greedy sultans and their officials.

The agricultural and land revenue system of the early Turkish Sultans rested on two foundations viz. the Iqta (assignment of land revenue) and Kharaj (Land Revenue).

The Iqta system provided an agrarian system to the country while the members of the ruling class attained income without any permanent attachment to any territory. The Iqta system was provided institutional status by Iltutmish and later this system became the mainstay of the sultanate administration under slave dynasty.

Iqta System

Under Iqta System, the land of the empire was divided into several large and small tracts called Iqta and assigned these Iqtas to his soldiers, officers and nobles. In the beginning, an Iqta was based upon salary. Later, under Firoz Shah Tughlaq it became hereditary.

Literally, Iqta means land or land revenue assigned to an individual on certain conditions. The holders of these Iqtas were the trustful agents of the Sultan. There were two kinds of Iqtas viz. Large Iqtas and Small Iqtas. The holders of large Iqta were the provincial governors, who had some administrative responsibilities also. On the other hand, the holders of the small Iqtas were the small troops holders who had no administrative responsibilities.

The small Iqta holders held and appropriated all the income obtained from the cultivators but as a quid pro quid, they were bound to present themselves with horses and arms whenever called upon by the Central Government. These small Iqta holders were called Khuts and Muqaddams. Amir Khusarau, for the first time, referred to Khuts as Zamindars.

The Khuts and Muqaddams became fond of luxurious living over the period of time, later, Alauddin Khilji suddenly abolished the system of small Iqtas with a stroke of pen and brought them under the central Government (thus called Khalsa land). This was regarded as one of the most important agrarian reforms of Alauddin Khilji.