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which the upper classes (Ushraf) have to engage with their own hands in any agricultural operations, would render it very difficult to persuade them to part with their rights.
102nd. It is necessary to allude here to the great number of summary suits regarding the payment of rent, which are instituted The number is still increasing, and the causes which have produced so much litigation de
in this district. Number of Suits in
stituted in the three first quarters of 1823- 374
First, The operations of the Special Commission under Regulation I, 1821, and I, 1823, for the reversal of fraudulent sales, and transfers of property; was one of the chief causes. In the early period of our rule the district suffered exceedingly from the effects of our Code. This was hastily introduced, immediately on the cession, and gave a rich harvest to numerous intriguers, who poured in from the neighbouring districts which had been longer under our rule, and were better accustomed to the tricks and chicanery, which an artificial system of the sort is likely to produce amongst an illiterate people. The choice too of some of the first agents for introducing the new system appears to have been unfortunate. The natural result was, that extensive frauds were perpetrated both in the registration of owners of estates at the time of the first settlement, and subsequently in the transfer of property under forced and collusive sales. To remedy this state of things was highly desirable, and the remedy ought to have been promptly administered immediately the evil was discovered. As it turned out, the attempted remedy was almost worse than the evil.
103rd. In 1829, that is, twenty-six years after the commencement of the evil, the Commission was called into operation in the district. Its conduct was entrusted to Mr. R. M. Bird, the Commissioner of Revenue and Circuit for the division, who was perfectly aware of the necessity, and importance of the measure. The Regulations quoted above confer an immense discretionary power, and admit of great latitude of interpretation. Mr. Bird commenced the work with energy, and began to act on the strong views he justly entertained upon the subject. Had these views been then carried through with promptitude and decision, great good might have resulted. An immense number of suits were immediately instituted, but in the mean time a change had taken place in the views of the superior authorities on the subject of this Commission. Some of the first cases decided by Mr. Bird gave rise to much discussion, and were reversed in appeal. No further decisions were passed, and the time of the
Commissioners was speedily so completely occupied with their other duties, that the investigations lay thus in abeyance for seven years, till in 1835 a separate officer was appointed to close the investigations. When this took place, the views which led to the original enactment, had become completely altered, and all the claims which had been kept alive for seven or eight years, were speedily thrown out. In addition to this, the appellate authority, as well as the primary, had become clogged and overwhelmed, till about the same period a special provision was made for the discharge of its functions. Hence many of the claims which had been allowed by the Special Commissioner in the early part of the period between 1829 and 1836, and the parties put in possession accordingly, were disallowed in appeal at the close of the period, and the decree holders again dispossessed, and made to account for mesne profits.
104th. Amongst a people extremely sensitive regarding their rights in landed property, it may well be conceived what injury resulted from operations such as these. It is unnecessary to notice here the evil effects upon the prosperity and morals of the people. Its effect in all estates which had been purchased at public auction for arrears of public revenue (and very numerous they were) shewed itself in the refusal of the members of the old village communities to pay their rents. Hence the proprietor of such an estate was sometimes compelled to file sixty or seventy suits in a single village or Mehal.
105th. Secondly,-By far the larger number of suits were instituted in Pergunnah Nizamabad, and many of these resulted from the fiscal mismanagement of the Pergunnah whilst under settlement, from 1822 to 1834. It was the field where every young and inexperienced officer began to make settlements, or to introduce a new system, and hence was the subject of many crude and rash experiments. Amongst these was the arbitrary fixing of rent rates, from which the Government, demand was deducted. In proceedings under Reg. VII, 1822, this was frequently done, and with the most injurious effect. The arbitrary rates could often not be exacted, but they gave the Malgoozar a pretext for demanding them, and consequently involved him in litigation.
106th. Thirdly,-The very unsettled state of the landed property was another fruitful source of litigation. Disputes regarding boundaries, and between Putteedars, were constantly thrown into the summary suit file.
107th. Fourthly,-But all these causes were ten-fold magnified by the delay which used to occur in the decision of these suits, then falsely called summary. Till the Sudder Board of Revenue took up the subject in 1833 with their wonted energy, suits of this sort used to
When the Civil Courts had
remain on the file ten years or more. the charge of the summary file, very few decisions were ever passed, and these few were based on no fixed principles. Contumacious cultivators derided the efforts of the proprietor to compel payment by the institution of summary suits, whilst these were still placed on the file by the disheartened proprietors, lest failure to assert the claim might have compelled reference to a regular suit, which seemed more expensive and still more hopeless of speedy termination.
108th. A recourse to distress and sale of personal property of the tenant was equally fruitless, replevin immediately took place, and further proceeding was stopped till that could be disposed of.
109th. A very different state of things has followed close upon this. Within the last three years summary suits have been decided and enforced, through the agency of the Tuhsildars, with a promptitude never known before. A month or six weeks is the average duration of a suit, and none lie over for more than three months, whilst the Cutcherry of the Tuhsildar is a tribunal at the door of every man. In the mean time, the Special Commission has nearly closed its course, rent rates have been adjusted, and boundary and Putteedar disputes settled. It must also be remembered that the division of property is very minute, the number of subordinate tenures large, and that every effort has been used to induce the Malgoozars to have recourse to summary suits, instead of relying on the irregular and illegal interference which used to be exercised by the Tuhsildars in the adjustment of their Putteedaree disputes, and collection of their rents. When all these things are taken into consideration, it will not perhaps be considered strange that the summary suit file is heavy. It will rather be thought a happy proof of the efficiency of the process, and a sure indication that regularity and legal modes of redress are rapidly taking the place of confusion and misrule.
110th. The state of the rent free lands requires some notice. All the claims to hold land free from the payment of revenue have been investigated and finally disposed of. The quantity resumed and settled is very large. This consisted mostly of unauthorized grants by Amils, or Tuhsildars, or Zemindars, in which the original grantee, however, had generally demised, and the property had devolved upon the heir, contrary even to the terms of the grants. A large portion of the grants had conveyed tracts of waste land which had been brought into cultivation after the commencement of our rule.
111th. An uniform principle regulated the settlement of all these tenures. Possession and the actual state of things was maintained so far as it was unaffected by the assertion of the right of the Govern
ment to its share of the produce. If any other than the Maafeedar was in possession of the Zemindarry, i. e. the proprietary right, the settlement was made with him. If the Maafeedar had obtained the Zemindarry right by legal transfer or by prescription, the settlement was made with him. If he had not obtained the Zemindarry, but seemed to possess other rights as an under tenant or cultivator, those rights were secured to him on easy terms, and he was protected from any encroachment on the part of the Zemindar, so long as he faithfully performed his part of the contract.
112th. A few tenures were confirmed for life, or in perpetuity. The latter are old religious endowments, which appear to have been held from time immemorial, and to have been respected by all.
113th. The settlement of this province for twenty years has been formed in the seasons 1833-34 to 1856-7, and extends according to the year in which each settlement was formed from A. F. 1241 to 1264. In all, the settlement has been conducted professedly under the system generally designated as that of Regulation ix, 1833. The adjudication and demarcation of village boundaries prior to survey, the measurement both by Ameens and by professional Surveyors, the determination of the Government demand from general considerations of former fiscal history, and comparison with other neighbouring and similar villages, without a minute scrutiny into the assets of each estate, and the subsequent record of proprietary rights and rent rates, are the main features of the system. In particular cases the system may have been a little deviated from, as will hereafter appear, but this arose from peculiar circumstances.
114th. The former assessment was in general light. The country was imperfectly cultivated. There had been no settlement since 1220 F. and subsequent to that period much waste land has been brought into cultivation. There was therefore less caution necessary in fixing the Government demand than where the assessment had formerly been overstrained, and large reductions were called for.
115th. Very few instances of recusance on the part of the Zemindars ever occurred. It is true that the average of the assessment on the cultivated land is not low, but it must be remembered that the land is very valuable, and pays rates generally much higher than elsewhere. Sugar, Indigo, and Opium are the crops which bring the greatest pecuniary return, and it is satisfactory to bear in mind that the rates were assumed about 1833-34, when all these products were in less demand than general. The advances of the Government for Sugar had ceased a little before that period, and materially deranged the market for that article. The failure of the agency houses in Calcutta
had depressed the Indigo market, and the cultivation of Opium even now is less extended than it might be.
116th. The chief labor of the settlement consisted in the difficulty of deciding the numerous boundary disputes, and fixing the relations between the proprietors amongst themselves, or the proprietors on one hand, and the numerous subordinate tenants on the other. The whole area of 2,121 square miles is parcelled out into 5,541 villages, which gives an average of less than 245 acres to each village. When we advert to the former state of this district, and the rapidity with which it has been in our hands, it is not surprizing that numerous disputes should exist between the different villages. The adjudication of these had never yet been attempted on any uniform plan, and it was a task of no small difficulty, in many cases, to reconcile or give effect to the different decisions which had been formerly given; voluntary arbitration between the parties was the means generally employed for determining the boundary, but where the parties would not arbitrate of their own accord, persons were appointed by lot, under the established mode, to settle the dispute.
117th. I cannot say that I contemplate with satisfaction the mode in which this duty has been performed. Too much was left to private arbitration, and the awards thus given were too strictly followed. The venality of the arbitrators became at length notorious, and there were some, who were known to have amassed large sums in this method. When the work was nearly completed, all persons were convinced that the preferable method was to refer as little as possible to arbitration, and in the cases which were so decided, to tie down the arbitrators within the narrowest limits, and to insist upon a prompt decision in the immediate presence of the superintending officer. This plan was pursued very successfully after the completion of the unsettled portion of the district, in the permanently settled Pergunnah of Secunderpore.
118th. Whatever may be the defects of these operations, it is however certain that the amount of good has been enormous, and quite throws the other into the shade. Possession has been scrupulously upheld, so that the main injustice which could ever be inflicted was to transfer more or less of the culturable waste between two interjacent villages to one or the other. To this waste it was seldom that any title could be made good. By no other plan than that prescribed by the system of settlement could these have been ever brought to adjudication. They have now been all decided, marked off, and a record of the boundary formed both by native Ameens in a rough manner, and by professional Surveyors, on scientific principles. It is scarcely