Grave Duties of Police Officers
The police were a well-organized and efficient force in the ancient Persian Empire. In every place of importance a force existed under a competent officer. In the cities each ward was under a Superintendent of Police, known as Kuipan. He was responsible for the good behaviour of the people in his ward, and was expected to trace the criminal promptly whenever any crime occurred in it. He was expected to command implicit obedience in his subordinates.
The police officer was required to know the court procedure for the prosecution of the cases and for advancing accusations and was expected to carry out the court's orders promptly. He had to be prompt in recognizing things necessary for proving guilt, and was expected to be able to show how a stolen thing came to be with the thief. He was expected to be very careful in the charges he might advance against the accused and about his exact identity.
The Judge or Magistrate, as the case might be, was bound to examine with care circumstances associated with the accusation of a person by the police, such as the time of the act, the time of arrest, the time for which one was kept in custody, and the time when was produced in court, so that if anything unusual or wrong appeared the police might be asked to account for it, and an innocent person might be promptly and honourably discharged if the accusations were found groundless.
Thus while crime was suppressed assiduously, no slackness was shown in seeing that an innocent man did not appear in the dock.
The Gaol Organization:
Duties of Gaolers
The gaol organization also was very regular and ordered. The gaoler had to keep proper record of each prisoner's identity, his name and his offence, and was to acquaint himself with these properly and personally. He had to produce and identity the prisoner whenever required to do so. He was held responsible for the proper custody of prisoners given in his charge and if any grave offender escaped through his negligence he incurred the capital punishment which however was foregone if he caught him again by his own effort.
6- The Ecclesiastical Courts and Their Functions:
The Zarathushtrian Church and its High Dignitaries
We have already seen that the Church administered the Law in certain matters. The head of the Church was the Mobadan Mobad or the Grand Master of Divinity. Under him were various Church orders: the Mobadan, the Ratan, the Drivishan, the Dasturan and the Aerpatan, or the Masters of the Divinity, the Spiritual Lords, the Holy Adepts, the Episcopal Dignitaries and the Holy Masters respectively, who each constituted a controlling and executive body. Each body was concerned with the affairs of its own order as well as the general duties of the Church and works of public weal. The Spiritual Lords especially guarded Church interests and Church property.
The Church courts tried all crimes against the Church, and also generally dealt with disputes which were purely civil and had no penal aspect, as well as with cases relating to Church and Temple Property, Marriage, including the Sutur kind, Dowry, Divorce, Adoption, Inheritance and Testamentary matters, the applying of Ordeals, etc., and often with cases in which the interest of Slaves was involved. Apparently the ecclesiastical court's jurisdiction would extend only to the religious or purely social aspects of these subjects, for, their worldly circumstances would be dealt with by the ordinary courts only.
The ecclesiastical courts were to be conducted in the same legal form as ordinary courts were. The lawyer's role was generally performed by a Dastur, though ordinary lawyers and attorneys too were allowed to represent or defend cases coming before them.
The Supreme Ecclesiastical Courts were also Courts of Appeal
The courts of the Mobadan were also empowered in some cases to hear appeals against of Judges which they could set aside or revise, though in their legal functions they were subordinate to the Chief Judge, and had to forward their judgment papers to the Board of the Lord. High Chancellor as all ecclesiastical and lay courts had to do.
7- The Iranian people and their great classes:
Their Respective Occupations, and the Laws Governing Them
The Great King or the King of Kings presided over and guided the destiny of the Iranian nation. Under him were (1) the "Shahrdaran" or the Satraps who ruled over the greater provinces of the Empire as the Viceroys, (2) the "Veispuhran" or the hereditary Nobles, (3) the "Vozurgan" or the High Dignitaries and the Grandees of the Empire and (4) the "Azatan" or the Citizens and Freemen forming the general mass of the population. Interspersed with these were a sprinkling of Slaves, but the Great King was forbidden to keep slaves in his employment. And there were the Army and the Church, in which were represented some or other of these great classes. Thus the class of Grandees was constituted by such individuals as the "Mobadan Mobad" or the Primate of the Empire, the "Vuzorg Framatar" or the Prime Minister, the "Airan Sepahpat" or the Commander-in-Chief of the Armies, the "Dapiran Mahest" or the Imperial Secretary of State, the "Vastrioshpat" or the head of the Landed Magnates, the "Hutokhshpat" or the Head of the Trade Guilds, etc.
Thus the population of the Empire would be divided into the Clergy, the Government Servants, the Soldiers, the Office Bearers and Attendants, the Peasant, the Tradesmen, the Artisans, etc. And it is apparent that each class would have special laws applying to the members of their order beside the general codes. Hence there would be ecclesiastical codes, civil service codes, army codes, etc., several of which are distinctly referred to in the summaries of the legal masks which are given in the Eighth Book of the Dinkart. And, as we have seen above, all these also would be added to, from time to time, by new enactments by the Imperial Legislature and the Decrees of the Great King, which would be notified to the nation by means of the Imperial Gazette.
It will therefore be seen that, notwithstanding the fair volume of law presented in the following pages, it represents only a very small portion of the grand jurisprudence of the ancient Iranians. It mainly deals with social matters, property dealings, and administration of justice, and ecclesiastical courts and administration only.
The Joint Family:
The Father and the Mother and the Son of the Family
In old Iran the joint family system prevailed in the general mass of the population. Each family group lived under the domestic government of two elders, one the senior male and one the senior female. These were called the Lord and Lady of the House respectively. These usually would be the father and the mother of the family, or the eldest surviving couple. But if one of these died the eldest son of the family or his wife living together in the joint family, took his or her place. And that method was followed further as the need arose.
It appears that although the joint family system thus prevailed, a son of the family could demand his lawful share in the family and establish a separate home of his own. But such son could not succeed the Lord of the House in the family government. It would thus appear that that duty fell on the next eldest son who lived in the joint family as an integral member. The prospective Lord of the Family was known as the Son of the Family and apparently assisted the Lord of the Family in the family government, and would also be assisting the Lady of the House whenever the need arose for doing so. If the Son of the Family happened to be a minor when the Lord of the House died, a Guardian, distinct from the Lady of the House was to be appointed over him safeguard his interests.
The Respective Dominions of the Lord and the Lady of the House
The government of the Joint Family was fairly divided between the Lord and the Lady of the House. The Lord of the House held general control of the joint family property, whereas the Lady of the House had full and free control of internal domestic government of the household in which the Lord of the House could not interface. for instance it was her special privilege to look after the daughters of the family and to have them settled in marriage. She would also thus be looking after the interests of the Sutur woman married in the family and her children, and administer their property. All minors in the family were kept in her care, excepting those whose interests conflicted with her own, and then a distinct guardian was to be appointed over these.
Special Privileges of the Lady of the House:
The Guardian of the Family
After the death of the Lord of the House the Lady of the House acquired special privileges. She would be the Guardian of the Family if the Son of the Family was yet a minor, and would share equally with him in family inheritance. She was also entitled to inherit what was not otherwise assigned away, or did not belong to others by distinct right.
Whatever came to the family after its sons had got their inheritance and its daughters had been married and provided their dowry and inheritance, was to go only to the Lady of the House and a posthumous child of the Lord of the Family if one were born after his decease, though a distinct guardian would be appointed over that child in that case. She was also privileged to take over whatever was assigned to the joint family or to the personal family of the Lord of the House in preference to the Son of the Family, and when she would be administering the family estate as the executrix, she alone would be under the responsibility to be sued for a liability of the House even when there were other members in the house.
Both the Lady of the House and the Guardian were administered oaths for the proper discharge of their duties, though sometimes the Lady of the House also became its Guardian, as is said above. When however they were distinct they had to manage the affairs of the house in full harmony, as when engaging an attorney at law for some affair of the house. When however the Son of the Family came of age they were to hand over the control of the general family government to him as he would be the rightful Lord of the House then. The latter was then entitled to dispute any act of theirs which was due to mistake or misunderstanding. As Lady of the House however she and the Son of the Family who would be the new Lord of the House would jointly manage the family affairs, according to their distinct spheres of control in the joint family.
The Authorities of the Lord and the Lady of the House were Cognisable in Law
It is apparent that to enable them to exercise their authority with efficacy, law had given them privileges cognisable in all law-courts. Details of all these privileges are not available, but they may be inferred from the position they held in an authoritative way. It should not however be inferred that either of them could be tyrannous to any of those who fell under their control by the natural conditions of old Iranian life. Instances of checks on any such tendency if it ever manifested itself, occur numerously in the following pages.