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strengthened, not weakened, by a just administration. The people demand that the assessmeut of estates should be made in consultation with the assessees from the commencement; and that objections against the assessment should. be heard by tribunals other than those who have made it.
Local Cesses. We have already in a preceding chapter referred to the imposition of special cesses on land, in addition to the Land Revenue, which virtually nullifies the Half-Rental rule. Ten per cent. on the Land Revenue is charged for roads and schools in Northern India; 2 per cent. for the famine insurance fund; and 4 per cent. more for Patwaris or village officials. This makes a total of 16 per cent. on the Land Revenue, or about 8 per cent. on the rental; and this is in addition to the customary allowances to village watchmen and headmen which the people of India have paid from olden times.
The system followed down to 1872 was to assign a portion of the Land Revenue itself for these local purposes. Sir William Muir, the able and sympathetic ruler of this province, explained this principle clearly and forcibly. “The correct principle, as it appears to the Lieutenant-Governor, is that which is followed in these provinces, viz. to assign a fixed portion of the Land Revenue for local objects. This is now done always at the time of Settlement by setting apart oneeleventh of the entire demand, or one-tenth of the Imperial Land Revenue, for purposes of revenue, police, district roads, district dak (postal service), village education, and sanitation,—duties the discharge of which is to a large extent obligatory on Government as a superior landlord of the country.”
But this practice was abolished in 1872 by a distinct . order. “The system of taking engagements from the
proprietors to the payment of the local cesses as a part of the Land Revenue be abandoned.”? The effect of this change in rule is manifest. So long as the local rates on land were considered a “part of the Land Revenue” they could rightly be included in the Government demand of Half-Rental. But by the rule of 1872, the Government virtually imposed the rates in addition to Government demand of half the rental. And the rates, too, have been increased from 10 to 16 per cent. of the Government demand. Large surpluses have now been secured by fixing the rupee at is. 4d., and the people can fairly demand that the Half-Rental rule should be honestly adhered to. The total assessment on the soil should not exceed half the actual rental.
i Smith's Manual, page 203. 2 Revenue Board's Circular, dated July 13, 1872.
Legislation.—A Rent Act for the North-West Provinces, now called the Province of Agra, was passed in 1873, and was amended and consolidated in 1881, under the administration of Lord Ripon. And a Rent Act was passed for the Province of Oudh in 1876. After the close of the century these Acts, both for Agra and Oudh, have been consolidated by Sir Antony Macdonnell by a comprehensive Act. His main object in passing this new Rent Act for Northern India in 1901 was the same that guided him in drafting the Rent Act for Bengal in 1885. They were firstly to strengthen the occupancy tenants, and secondly, to protect the tenants-at-will from arbitrary enhancement and ejection. To Sir Antony Macdonnell, in our generation, belongs the high credit of completing that beneficial work in Northern India, which was begun by Canning and Lawrence, to extend adequate protection to the cultivators of the soil.
PUNJAB. The Punjab, on the other hand, has undergone changes of a questionable character. The healthy rule of settle- . ments for thirty years, which gave cultivators and landlords peace and security for a generation after a revision, has been rescinded; and in 1895 the term of settlements was unwisely reduced to twenty years. And lastly, as, law of doubtful utility was passed in 1901 to restrict the right of transfer.
In an early chapter of this work we showed that the Sardars and leaders of the people were treated with scant justice in the Punjab after its annexation in 1849. Since then, the province has been a land of small proprietors, often tilling their own land, and sometimes having tenants under them. Lord Lawrence passed an Act in 1868 to protect these tenants; and this was followed by another Tenancy Act in 1887. But the small proprietors have not been able to hold their own. In 1891 they tilled nearly 54 per cent. of the cultivated area of the province; while in 1900 the proportion had fallen to 45 per cent. Apprehensions were entertained that the land was passing away from the fine old families of the province, as well as from the sturdy tillers who had held them before. A Descent of Jaigirs Act was passed to promote the principles of primogeniture among the old families. And a Land Alienation Act was passed to save the old tribes from a landless existence. This last Act is, as remarked before, a measure of doubtful utility; it was passed against the opinion of the LieutenantGovernor of the Province; it has the economic effect of decreasing the marketable value of land; and it can hardly in the long run benefit the tribes for whose benefit it was passed.
“The cesses in the Punjab are restricted to 12} per cent. of the annual value [rental] which is defined as double the Land Revenue. But in practice the Land Revenue is generally less and often much less, than 50 . per cent. of the assets (rental], and the cesses do not in most districts exceed 11 per cent. of the annual value.”! But even this is a higher percentage than is levied in Agra and Oudh; and the rule of limiting the total Statedemand on the soil to one-half the rental is more needed in the Punjab than elsewhere.
1 Moral and Material Progress and Condition of India, 1901-2.
LAND ADMINISTRATION IN THE CENTRAL PROVINCES
The three clear principles which were established at the great Settlement of 1863 were:
(1) Recognition of proprietary rights in the Malguzars of the province;
(2) Limitation of the State - demand to half the rental;
(3) Making the Settlement for a long term of thirty years.
The recognition of proprietary rights was absolute and unreserved. It was not the creation of a new right, but the recognition, by the Government, of the state of things which had existed in practice. The Malguzars were virtually landlords, exercising nearly all the powers of landlords, and the State recognised them as such in the Settlement of 1863. This will appear clear from a few extracts which we shall place before our readers.
MALGUZARI SETTLEMENT OF 1863. As early as 1853 the Secretary to the Government of the North-Western Provinces had declared :
“Regarding the general principles of the Settlement, I am directed to intimate that his Honour has resolved that it shall be concluded on the basis of apparent or approximate proprietary right, in so far as such right can, with any approach to certainty or confidence, be traced ; and that the leading object in so doing shall be to recognise fixed rights, or claims, or interests, in whatever form they may already have grown up, and to avoid an inter
• ference with them by any speculative acts or views of the officers of Government.”
And this declaration was repeated in the summaries appended to the Settlement Code of 1863:
“The recognition of positive rights of ownership has hitherto been withheld. But those rights nevertheless existed, and are now to be recognised. The leading object is to recognise fixed rights or claims and interests, in whatever form they may have already grown up.
“When recognising and declaring rights, the word 'confer' is to be employed by Settlement Officers for the sake of form and expediency, in order to bar future contest or litigation.”?
It is a matter for regret that the principle so clearly established in the Settlement of 1863 was subsequently ignored. The sympathetic spirit of the administration of Sir Richard Temple had disappeared when Colonel Keatinge became the Chief Commissioner of the Central Provinces in 1871–72. The idea gained ground that virtually all rents paid by cultivators were due to the State; and that the Malguzar was a parvenu on whom the Government had “conferred” a right which could be taken away again. The Ryotwari System found favour with Colonel Keatinge; the Landlord System which had grown up in the Central Provinces, and had been recognised in 1863, was in disfavour. Accordingly a proposal was made to pull down the structure which had been built up, to bring the cultivators of the Central Provinces directly under the State, and to treat the Malguzars only as servants of the State, and remunerated by the State.
Mr. Peddar, Commissioner of the Nagpur Division, had himself a leaning towards the Ryotwari System; but he raised his voice against introducing a change in the
i Letter to the Revenge Board, dated November 30, 1853.
2 Summaries appended to Circular Orders of the Settlement Code of • 1863, page 35.