and Katyayana tell us in detail about the constitution of courts, the judicial
procedure and the law of evidence. The lawgivers generally prefer judges and
assessors of the brahmin varna, failing which those of the two lower varnas
can be entertained, but in no case the sudras are to be recruited. The judicial
officers or courts mentioned in the law-books are not attested by inscriptions.
On the other hand, the only important judicial officer, vinayasthiti-sthapaka,
mentioned in a Vaisali seal, is not known to the Smritis of the period.
Gupta Bureaucracy Although Gupta land grants mention quite a few
officials, their number associated with the fiscal and economic activities was
not as large as in Maurya times. The Gupta bureaucracy was not as elaborate
and as organised as its Mauryan counterpart. The widely prevalent cadre
which supplied superior officers was that of the kumaramatya, corresponding
to the mahamatya of Asokan and amatya of Satavahana inscriptions. Most
high officers were directly appointed by the king in the home provinces and
possibly, paid in cash. But several offices came to be combined in the hands
of the same person and posts became hereditary. This naturally weakened
central control over the administrative machinery.
Provincial and Local Administration
Units of Administration For the first time, inscriptions give us an idea of
systematic provincial and local administration in the Gupta period. The
empire was divided into bhuktis, each of which was placed under the charge
of an uparika; we know of at least half a dozen bhuktis in Bengal, Bihar, UP
and MP. The bhuktis were divided into vishayas, placed under the charge of
the vishayapati. In eastern India, the vishaya was divided into vithis, and the
vithi into villages. This pattern, however, obtained mainly in the territories
directly governed by Gupta kings. Elsewhere, we hear of different fiscal and
administrative units such as desa, mandala, bhoga, etc., especially in central
and western India.
Village Administration The village administration assumed new
dimensions in the Gupta period. The state did not exercise any close
supervision as the gopa did on its behalf in Maurya times, and households
were not registered. Village affairs were now managed by the village
headman, with the assistance of   elders, mahattara, who were sometimes also