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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.”l 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.

CHAPTER V

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.

PROPRIETARY RIGHTS OF MALGUZARS. 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 intiinate 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.” i

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

· Letter to the Revenue Board, dated November 30, 1853.

? Summaries appended to Circular Orders of the Settlement Code of 1863, page 35.

same reason nted in paragrahe entire

Central Provinces which would be a breach of faith. And some passages of his elaborate letter on the subject deserve to be quoted :

“We think that the persons, with whom the Settlement has now been made, have an equitable right to expect that its general principles will be sanctioned. The Malguzari System has been formally adopted by the Government for the whole of this Division. The Chief Commissioner (Sir Richard Temple) himself, in open Darbar, has explained that system, and has promised its introduction. Proprietary rights have accordingly been formally conferred after inquiry into the different claims to them. And on the strength of the belief thus created, obligations have in some instances been contracted. We consider, therefore, that all that can now be done is to modify the existing system in detail.”

“For the same reason we would deprecate the adoption of the system suggested in paragraph 20 of the Government of India letter. To consider the entire sum payable by the Ryots for their holdings at the time of the Settlement to be Government Revenue, and to remunerate the Mukadam by a percentage on this sum, plus the assessment of waste land brought into cultivation during the term of Settlement, would be to go back to the former system. And I entertain no doubt that this would be the correct course. But it would be an essential change in the principle of the present Settlement, and would be looked upon as a breach of faith by the Malguzars. Their position would be changed from that of land-owners, paying half the profits of their villages as assessment to Government, to that of hereditary servants, receiving remuneration from Government."

This letter must have damped the Ryotwari ardour of Colonel Keatinge, Chief Commissioner of the Central Provinces. He forwarded it to the Government of India, approving of the modifications suggested by Mr. Peddar,

· Letter dated April 6, 1872; paragraphs 28 and 29.

but recommending that the main principles of the Settlement of 1863 should remain intact. The Government of India yielded, and maintained the proprietary rights of the Malguzar—but gave him the option of descending to the position of a hereditary servant. The Malguzar, we need hardly add, did not avail himself of this option—the fly did not come into the parlour.

RYOTWARI SYSTEM OF SAMBALPUR. The district of Sambalpur had, on account of disturbances, failed to share in the general Settlement commenced in 1863. Here, therefore, Colonel Keatinge had a free hand. Sir Richard Temple had issued orders for a Malguzari Settlement in this district; but the orders had not yet been carried out. In 1863 Sir Richard Temple had visited Sambalpur, and proclaimed in open Darbar the principles of the contemplated Settlement; but the Darbar proclamation was not binding on his successor. Colonel Keatinge had a clean slate, and he wrote on it, Ryotwari Settlement. Proprietary rights were denied and withheld. The revenue-payers were to be considered lessees of their villages. They were to be remunerated by permission to hold their home-farms revenue-free. They would further be permitted to keep to themselves rents of waste lands brought under cultivation during the Settlement. And in view of Sir Richard Temple's pledge to regard them as proprietors, they were made proprietors only with regard to their Bhogra lands. The Settlement was made for twelve years only, 1876 to 1888. Sambalpur has remained a Ryotwari District ever since.

It is sad to contemplate how the fates and fortunes of hundreds and thousands, and sometimes millions of people, are often determined under a non-representative Government by the whims of one official. The Malguzari System has been decided upon for the Central Provinces

? Resolution of the Government of India, dated June 21, 1875.

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