The establishment and expansion of the Delhi Sultanate led tothe evolution of a powerful and efficient administrative system. Atits zenith the authority of Delhi Sultan had extended as far south asMadurai. Although the Delhi Sultanate had disintegrated, theiradministrative system made a powerful impact on the Indianprovincial kingdoms and later on the Mughal system of administration.The Delhi Sultanate was an Islamic state with its religion Islam.The Sultans considered themselves as representatives of the Caliph.They included the name of the Caliph in the khutba or prayer andinscribed it on their coins. Although Balban called himself the shadowof God, he continued to practice of including the name of Caliph inthe khutba and coins. Iltutmish, Muhammad bin Tughlaq and FirozTughlaq obtained mansur or letter of permission from the Caliph.The office of the Sultan was the most important in theadministrative system. He was the ultimate authority for the military,legal and political activities. There was no clear law of successionduring this period. All the sons had equal claim to the throne. Iltutmisheven nominated his daughter in preference to his sons. But suchnominations or successions were to be accepted by the nobles.Sometimes ulemas played crucial role in accepting the successionto the throne. However, the military superiority remained the mainfactor in matters of succession.
The Sultan was assisted by a number of departments andofficials in his administration. The post of Naib was the most powerfulone. The Naib practically enjoyed all the powers of the Sultan andexercised general control over all the departments. Next to him wasthe Wazir who was heading the finance department called DiwaniWizarat.The military department was called Diwani Ariz. It washeaded by Ariz-i-mumalik. He was responsible for recruiting thesoldiers and administering the military department. He was not thecommander-in-chief of the army. The Sultan himself was thecommander-in-chief of the army. The military department was firstset up by Balban and it was further improved by Alauddin Khaljiunder whom the strength of the army crossed three lakh soldiers.Alauddin introduced the system of branding of the horses andpayment of salary in cash. Cavalry was given importance under theDelhi Sultanate.Diwani Rasalat was the department of religious affairs. Itwas headed by chief Sadr. Grants were made by this departmentfor the construction and maintenance of mosques, tombs andmadrasas. The head of the judicial department was the chief Qazi.Other judges or qazis were appointed in various parts of theSultanate. Muslim personal law or sharia was followed in civil matters. The Hindus were governed by their own personal law andtheir cases were dispensed by the village panchayats. The criminallaw was based on the rules and regulations made by the Sultans.The department of correspondence was called Diwani Insha. Allthe correspondence between the ruler and the officials was dealtwith by this department.
The provinces under the Delhi Sultanate were called iqtas.They were initially under the control of the nobles. But the governorsof the provinces were called the muqtis or walis. They were tomaintain law and order and collect the land revenue. The provinceswere divided into shiqs and the next division was pargana. Theshiq was under the control of shiqdar. The pargana comprising anumber of villages was headed by amil. The village remained thebasic unit of the administration. The village headman was known asmuqaddam or chaudhri. The village accountant was called patwari.