« السابقةمتابعة »
occur, have reference to estates formerly held by large bodies of cultivating proprietors, which are brought to public sale for arrears of Government revenue. In such cases it is only the proprietary right of the defaulters which is extinguished, their rights as cultivators remain intact. They are still entitled to cultivate their Seer land at a fixed rate, but the rate requires to be defined. Before the present settlement there was the greatest difficulty in deciding cases of this sort. The Putwaree's papers, supposing them perfectly genuine, show only the extent of each Zemindar's Seer and the bach,h he had hitherto paid. ' But the extent was stated in an arbitrary Beegah, commonly called the Bhaiunsee Beegah, much larger than the ordinary standard Beegah, being used only amongst the brotherhood, where relative and not absolute area was the only requisite. In order then fairly to fix rates for the Seer land, it was requisite that the auction purchaser should first measure the land, and then determine the average rates which were paid by other cultivators for similar land. It was seldom, in former times, that auction purchasers were able to accomplish this. Any attempt to measure the lands of a turbulent village community would have inevitably led to a breach of the peace and bloodshed, and the loss to the proprietor would have been immense. The matter used generally to end in a compromise, which of course was more or less favorable to the purchaser according to the strength or influence of the two parties. The rate once fixed, and in general it was a very low one, the efforts of the old proprietors were always directed to including in their Seer the best, and richest Ryottee land. Hence the rental was soon reduced so low as to yield no profit to the Zemindar, and ultimately, in all probability, the estate was returned on the hands of Government as over-assessed. No other purchaser would of course come forward, a Government Suzawul was helpless, and unless some great exertions were made by the officers of Government, the deterioration of the estate was permanent.
91st. Talookah Oonhaitch, formerly included in Pergunnah Puchotur, Zillah Ghazeepoor, illustrates the process. It was permanently settled in 1197 F., but broke down in 1223, and for many years had been held kham by Government at a considerable annual loss. It has now been re-settled with the former village communities at the old Jumma, and arrangements made with the proprietors for the repayment of the balances by instalments within twenty years. The Jumma, and the instalments have now been regularly paid two years, without the smallest default. The estate has since been transferred to Azimgarh, and forms part of Tuppah Purduha, Pergunnah Mahomedabad.
92nd. The case under the new settlement will be very different. In all estates held by cultivating bodies of proprietors, the custom of bach,h only is recorded regarding the Seer. There is no necessity for vexing or alarming the proprietors by fixing Ryottee rates on their Seer. If therefore the estate be brought to sale by public auction, there will not be found any rates fixed on the Seer. But still its extent and locality will be certain, and the rates paid by other cultivators of similar rank in life for similar land will be found recorded. There are generally in Azimgurh two rates of rent for the same land, varying according to the rank in life of the cultivators. The respectable, or Ushraf, pay less than the lower classes, or Urzal. The Zemindars would of course pay the Ushraf rates.
93rd. The cause or origin of this distinction is not very clear, but reasons may be alleged in its justification. The Ushraf are generally Brahmins or Rajpoots, who are connected with the Zemindars by ties of religion, family connexion, or friendship, and hence are somewhat favored; besides which their respectability gives better security for payment. On the other hand, the Urzal, consist of Bhurs, Chumars, and low caste persons, who are generally located on the estate at some expense of capital, and are liable at any time to be left entirely dependant on the Zemindars, who must either support them during a season of scarcity or see his estate depopulated, and his future sources of profit destroyed.
94th. The third class, or tenants at will, consist mostly of those who are styled Urzal in the preceding paragraph. They neither have nor assert in general any rights, other than the will of the Zemindar. They take what land he gives them, and pay the utmost that they can, either in money or in kind. Besides their direct contributions to his rental, they render him many personal services. If Kuhars, they carry his palankeen, merely receiving in return food to support them during the time. Other classes bring him wood, tend his cattle, or perform numerous other similar services for very inadequate remu. neration. Under former Governments this power was no doubt recognized, and permitted. They were then predial slaves, who were beaten without mercy for misconduct, and were liable to be pursued, and brought back if they attempted to escape. Their state is now much improved. The power is now conventional. A Chumar can now sue his Zemindar in the Criminal Court for an assault, and if detained against his will, can bring his action for false imprisonment. He can even recover in a Civil Court the wages of labor perform. ed. Nothing vexes or annoys the Zemindars in our whole system, so much as this. It has struck at the root of a power, which has long
been exercised most tyrannically, and yet so strong is the force of habit and custom, that often as the power of the Zemindar is still abused, it is very rarely that they are brought into Court to answer for their misconduct.
95th. The foundation on which the right of the Zemindar now avowedly rests, is that of pecuniary obligation. He expends capital in locating the cultivator in the village, he builds his house, feeds him till the harvest time, supplies him with seed, grain, and implements of husbandry. On all these, an exorbitant interest is charged, and in consideration of the pecuniary obligation thus incurred, the services of the man are exacted. Hence the connexion is rather personal than resulting from the tenure of the land, and various circumstances support this view. In mortgages those rights are seldom, if ever, transferred ; in private sales very rarely, unless specified ; in public sales by authority for arrears of revenue, never. Hence an auction purchaser never acquires any rights over the tenants at will of a former Zemindar, and thus the Zemindar always struggles to include all such cultivation under the term of his Seer. In the partition of an estate, each Puttee keeps its own Ryots, and sometimes the most violent disputes exist as to the right to certain Ryots.
96th. An instance may go far towards exemplifying these customs. In the partition of a village in Nizamabad, held by Rajpoots a dispute arose regarding the right to an Aheer. Each party claimed the man as his own Assamee, and wished his name to be inserted in the list of his own Puttee. Both claimants, and the man himself came forward. The facts of the case were admitted by all. A's ancestors had first located the man in the village, given him his house, supported him, and for a long time retained his services—such as the first day's ploughing of the season, the first day's use of his bullocks in the Sugar Mill, the usual petty offerings of grain, molasses, &c. To improve his cultivation the man had dug a well, for which purpose he borrowed inoney from a Mahajun. A, was in reduced cir. cumstances, and could not pay the debt. The creditor pressed for payment, and at last B came forward, paid the debt, and subsequently claimed the services of the man, who now left his former house, and resided in one assigned him by B. The man himself, apparently a respectable and sensible cultivator, never thought of denying the obligations of his situation, but said that on A's inability to support him his services were transferred to B. The matter was referred to several respectable Zemindars, who were present, and they unanimously and at once decided that A's right was indefeasible, except by his own transfer to B, and that the Aheer was consequently still bound to
render as before all the usual service to A, whilst B might claim in liquidation of the new debt, whatever else the Aheer might be able to do. This decision was communicated to the parties ; the Aheer was registered as A's Assamee, and all parties went away apparently satisfied that the case had been fully heard.
97th. There are however many varieties of this class. In proportion as they are good cultivators, and raised above the menial castes, they acquire by prescription, rights which at length become valuable. The Keorees are an instance of this. They are by far the best cultivators, and they excel in gardening. A Zemindar is always glad to get some of them located in his village. He treats them liberally, because they improve the ground by constantly manuring it, and pay him high rates, and that punctually. Hence their cultivation is never interferred with. They get as much as they like, and are allow. ed to keep it as long as they will. The self-interest of the Zemindars would always be sufficient to protect them, except against sallies of passion. Lately however the independance of this class has been established by the rapid spread of Poppy cultivation in the district. The Keorees are the only class of people who will produce Opium. By taking advances from the Opium Department, and putting themselves under the protection of that powerful establishment, they have quite freed themselves from any dependance on the Zemindars. It is needless to say, that nothing is consequently more odious to the opulent and powerful Zemindars than this Department.
98th. It is clear that non-proprietary cultivators of this third class by long prescription would rise to the second class, and acquire the right of holding their land at fixed rates.
99th. The better to define and secure these rights, it has been one great object of the settlement proceedings to form an accurate record of each of these classes, according to their several designations. In the two first classes, the extent of their cultivation and rate of payment has been determined; and in the third, the land actually held, and the rate actually paid recorded ; this rental thus formed by the village Putwaree, in the presence of as many members of the community as may be on the spot, has been afterwards advertized for information in the village, and at the place where it was drawn out, a time fixed for hearing objections, and at the close of that time, the question has been finally disposed of. Whenever the prevailing rates may have been reduced below the fair Pergunnah average, from collusion, partiality, by special contract, or other cause, it has been sometimes necessary to re-adjust and fix the rates, which may be hereafter demanded.
100th. The future maintenance of those arrangements must be left to
the Courts of Law, but it is well to see how the present practice of the Courts affects them. Summary suits for rent will be decided according to these rates, unless proof be adduced that they have been set aside by the Dewanny Courts, or altered by voluntary agreement; and such voluntary agreement should never be admitted on the denial of either party, except under the clearest documentary proof, or alteration of the rates previously made by both parties in the register of the village. Any cultivator forcibly dispossessed of the land he holds, according to the register, might sue summarily before the Collector for re-instatement, to whatever class he might belong, and would be re-instated accordingly. A summary process is provided to maintain a cultivator in possession against his Zemindar, but no summary process for ejecting a tenant at will is open to the Zemindar. If any Ryot fails immediately to liquidate a demand for rent, adjudged against him in a summary process by the revenue authori. ties, he is liable to ejectment, and his land is then made over to the Zemindar. Tenants at will seldom resist the requisitions of those who are really their Zemindars, that is, who claim the supremacy which has been before described ; but few would yield up their possession in favor of an auction purchaser. In such cases, then, although the Zemindar possesses legally the right of ousting the tenant at will, he can only legally enforce it through a regular suit. The Courts also can of course always take cognizance of claims to be removed from one class of cultivators to another. It is however very questionable how far they could interfere in altering the rates fixed by the revenue officer, unless on pleas originating subsequently to the settlement. They could at least only take cognizance of the question as between man and man, between the Zemindar and the Ryot, as it might be affected by contracts existing between them. They could not posi. tively alter any rate fixed by the Collector. If the estate were held kham, or farmed, or sold by the Government in consequence of default, the settlement rates might be demanded, notwithstanding the decree of the Court. If this were not the case, the rental might be reduced below the Government demand, and the interference of the Civil Courts might be thus exercised in regulating the Jumma, which it is an established principle that they have no power to call in question.
101st. If it were desired to introduce the European system of farming, or, in Indian parlance, to make the whole lands of the village Seer, this could only be effected by purchasing up the rights of the two first classes, and by purchasing out, or ejecting, the last class, probably by long and expensive litigation. The insuperable aversion