Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Justice of Sher Shah

By Khan Barmazid








Sher Shah not only gave an impartial justice to all the people but also organized the whole system of justice on efficient lines.

Sher Shah oftentimes remarked,
" Justice is the most excellent of religious virtues, and it has been acclaimed alike by the Islamic and infidel kings. None of the devotions and prayers can be equated with justice and here all the sections of the infidelity and Islam are quite one on the point. If the shadow of the justice of the king be removed from the head of the people, the knots of the concourse and population will be broken off. The holder of strength and power will then wipe out the weaker people from the world. And if, whatever come to the mind (of the king) be made manifest to the courtiers , it will lead to the decline of the country. One should not give away to the covetousness which is detrimental to the rights of the soldiers and the raiyat simply out of greed for sheer worldly gains and for the increase of one's power and position and augmentation of one's forces. He should avert the arrows of the sighs of the injured and the oppressed  " (Tarikh-i-SherShahi, translated by Brahmadeva Prasad Ambashthya, p-749)

Regular law Courts known as Darul-Adalat were set up in which the Qazi and Mir-i-Adil settled civil cases and administered justice. He "always ascertained the exact truth regarding the oppressed, and the suitors for justice , and he never favored the oppressors, although they might be his near relatives , his dear sons, his renowned umara , or of his own tribe ; and he never showed any delay or lenity in punishing oppressors." ( Tarikh-i-SherShahi, Persian text, pp-207-208)


Khulasat-ut- Tawarikh tells the following story illustrative of Sher Shah's even-handed justice : — ,
 "Once day Prince Adil Khan, the eldest son of Sher Shah, was passing through a lane in Agra on an elephant. By chance a shopkeeper's wife had undressed herself and was bathing in her courtyard. The prince,  being high up , could look over the wall; and , seeing a beautiful girl , he wickedly enough flung down a bira of pan (betel leaf prepared for chewing), towards her , and thereby made her look up. He went off at once , but the chaste Hindu felt outraged by a strange man having seen her while bathing, and was about to commit suicide. Happily her husband came in just then from the bazaar and stayed her hand. But he, too , was indignant , and, snatching up the bira , he rushed off  to the jharokah of complaints," i.e the window or gallery where the Sultans were accustomed to give audience and to administer justice. "He told his grievance to Sher Shah. The latter was much grieved , and , in order to redress the wrong , directed that the shopkeeper be mounted on an elephant and be taken to Prince Adil's house, that Prince Adil's wife should be produced before him, naked, and that the shopkeeper should then throw the bira to her. His Vazir and other counselors besought him not to be so strict, but he stuck to his point , and only gave away when the shopkeeper exclaimed that he was satisfied , that justice had been done to him , and that he withdrew his charge" (H.Beveridge, " Khulasat-ut- Tawarikh or essence of history", the Journal of Royal Asiatic Society, 1894, page-757)

Malik Muhammad Jaisi was contemporary of Sher Shah Suri and began writing the epic poem 'Padmavat' in Awadhi language in 947 Hijri year, that is, about 1540 A.D when Sher Shah was ruling at Delhi. He praises the Sher Shah's justice in the following manner; 
"As regard his justice on this earth , i say that none gives pain even to a creeping ant. Even Nausherwan who has been described as a great judge could not equal Sher Shah in giving right decisions. When he dispenses justice like Umar , all the world looks up with admiration and praise him." (Dasharatha Sharma, the Indian historical quarterly, 1932)