The village accountant an administrative government position found in rural parts of the Indian sub-continent.
He is land record officer at sub-division or Tehsil level.
As the lowest state functionary in the Revenue Collection system, his job encompasses visiting agricultural lands and maintaining record of ownership and tilling.
Due to their primary base in rural areas, where literacy and wealth is low, they yield a larger-than-life influence in the local community and are notorious for demanding bribe and changing land records at will. With recent computerization of land records, their ability to manipulate records has been limited.
The officeholder is called as
Patwari in Telangana, Bengal, North India and in Pakistan
Tapedar in Sindh
Karnam or Adhikari in Tamil Nadu
Talati in Gujarat and Maharashtra
Kulkarni in Northern Karnataka and Maharashtra
Shanbogaru in South Karnataka.
The Government of India has developed a software system called Patwari Information System (PATIS) which was deployed in at least two districts as of 2005 with deployment at the Tehsil level underway.
Patwari reports to Tehsildar or a chief clerk of Tehsils land records.
The Patwari can wield significant power and influence with even feudal lords seeking his favour.There have been cases of corrupt Patwaris escaping punishment due to their position and political connections.
A patwari has three chief duties:
The maintenance of record of the crop grown at every harvest.
The keeping of the record of rights up to date by the punctual record of mutations.
The account of preparation of statistical returns embodying the information derived from the harvest inspections, register of mutation and record of rights
The Patwar system was first introduced during the short but eventful rule of Sher Shah Suri and the system was further enhanced by Emperor Akbar. The British colonial era made minor amendments but continued the system.