Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

136 MR. Grant's Views.

Lectuke A sixth is that of paying his rents in money or kind, — agreeable to established rules adapted to either mode, provided these obtain universally over one or more stated divisions of country. A seventh is that of adoption, or nomination of a successor to his zemindary when done in his own life-time, and not by will, with the approbation of the sovereign representative; to be confirmed by dewanny sunnuds. An eighth privilege is that of being considered to appear in the huzoor, or presence, by deputy in his proper behalf, or that of any of the ryots subordinate to his authority, unless summoned on some extraordinary occasions by a special writ applicable personally to himself. And these appear to me to be all the real privileges of a zemindar."

Again he sums up their functions1 as " zemindars, acting permanently in one or all of the following official capacities, by virtue of sunnuds or letters patent from the high dewanny delegate of Government: viz., either as annual contracting farmers-general of the public rents; formal representatives of the peasantry; collectors of the royal proprietary revenue, entitled to a russoom or commission of five per cent, on the net receipts of the mofussil or subordinate treasuries: or as financial superintendents of a described local jurisdiction, periodically variable in extent, and denominated eahtimam, trust or tenure of zemindary, talookdary or territorial servile holding in tenancy, within which however is appropriated a certain small portion of land called nancar partaking of the nature of a freehold; serving as a family subsistence to the superior landholder, to give him an attachment for the soil, and make up the

1 Fifth Report, Vol. I, 274.

MB. Shore's Views. 137

remainder of his yearly stated tithe, for personal manage- Lkcturk ment in behalf of the State." —

Mr. Shore in a Minute of 8th December, 1789, says:— "The most cursory observation shows the situation of things in this country to be singularly confused. The relation of a zemindar to Government and of a ryot to a zemindar is neither that of a proprietor nor a vassal, but a compound of both. The former performs acts of authority unconnected with proprietary right; the latter has rights without real property; and the property of the one and rights of the other are in a great measure held at discretion. Such was the system which we found; and which we have been under the necessity of adopting. Much time will, I fear, elapse before we can establish a system perfectly consistent in all its parts; and before we can reduce the compound relation of a zemindar to Government and of a ryot to a zemindar, to the principles of landlord and tenant."3 And Mr. Harington goes on to remark:—" In truth this is the principal source and origin of whatever confusion really exists in the discussions which have taken place relative to the tenures of land in India. It is by attempting to assimilate the complicated system which we found in this country with the simple principles of landlord and tenant in our own, and especially in applying to the Indian system terms of appropriate and familiar signification which do not without considerable limitation properly belong to it, that much, if not all, of the perplexity ascribed to the subject has arisen. If by the terms 'proprietor of land,' and 'actual proprietor of the soil,' be meant a landholder possessing the full rights of an English landlord or free

3 Harington's Analysis, Vol. III, 398.

138 MR. Haiungton's Views.

Lecturk holder in fee simple, with equal liberty to dispose of all — the lands forming part of his estate, as he may think most for his own advantage; to oust his tenants, whether for life or for a term of years, on the termination of their respective leaseholds; and to advance their rents on the expiration of leases at his discretion; such a designation, it may be admitted, is not strictly and correctly applicable to a Bengal zemindar; who does not possess so unlimited a power over the khoodkasht ryots, and other descriptions of undertenants, possessing as well as himself certain rights and interests in the lands which constitute his zemindary. But Colonel Wilks, with a view to guard against this ambiguity of expression, has defined the sense in which he proposes to use the word 'proprietor' as follows: 'In England a proprietor of land, who farms it out to another, is generally supposed to receive as rent a value equal to about one-third of the gross produce. This proportion will vary in different countries according to circumstances; but, whatever it may be, the portion of it which remains after payment of the demands of the public may safely be described as the proprietor's share of the produce of his own land; that which remains to him after defraying all public taxes and all charges of management. Wherever we can find this share, and the person entitled to receive it, him we may without the risk of error, consider as the proprietor, and, if this right has descended to him by fixed rules from his ancestors, as the hereditary proprietor.1 According to this definition, it cannot, I think, be denied that a zemindar is in a restricted sense an hereditary proprietor. His zemindary descends to his legal heirs by fixed rules of inheritance. It is also transferable by sale, gift, or bequest. And he is entitled to a certain share of the rent produce of his estate, if it be MR. Harington's VIEWS. 139

taken out of his management; or, if he manage it, and Lecturr engage for the public assessments, he receives whatever — part of the rents may remain after paying the assessment and defraying the charges of management. It must, however, be allowed that the peculiar tenure of a zemindar, as it existed under the Mussulman Government of Bengal and the adjacent provinces (especially with regard to the principal zemindars, who held their zemindaries, with certain services attached to them, under a sunnud of grant or confirmation), partook more of the nature of an hereditary office, with certain rights and privileges attached to it, than of a proprietary estate in land; though it is justly observed by Mr. Rouse that'if the zemindary be even an office, and such office give possession of land, which has by claim or custom descended from father to son or to collaterals, with other circumstances incident to property such as mortgage, alienation, bequest, or adoption, it is in reality a landed inheritance.' The subjoined definition of a zemindar with a slight alteration formed part of the remarks submitted by mo to Lord Cornwallis in March 1789 on Mr. Law's plan of settlement. 'The zemindar (or zuraeendai) appears to be a landholder of a peculiar description, not definable by any single term in our language. A receiver of the territorial revenue of the State from the ryots, and other tenants of land Allowed to succeed to his zemindary by inheritance; yet in general required to take out a renewal of his title from the sovereign or his representative on payment of a peshkush or fine of investiture to the Emperor, and a nuzranah or present to his provincial delegate the Nazim. Permitted to transfer his zemindary by sale or gift; yet commonly expected to obtain previous special permission Privileged to be generally the annual contractor for the

140 MR. Harington's Views.

LscTtmB public revenue receivable from his zemindary; yet set —- aside with a limited provision in land or money whenever it was the pleasure of Government to collect the rents by separate agency, or to assign them temporarily or permanently by the grant of a jageer or ultumgha. Authorized in Bengal since the early part of the present century, to apportion to the pergunnahs, villages, and lesser divisions of land within his zemindary the abwab or cesses imposed by the Soobadar; usually in some proportion to the standard assessment of the zemindary established by Torunmul and others; yet subject to the discretionary interference of public authority, either to equalize the amount assessed on particular divisions, or to abolish what appeared oppressive to the ryot. Entitled to any contingent emoluments proceeding from his contract during the period of his agreement ; yet bound by the terms of his tenure to deliver in a faithful account of his receipts. Responsible by the same terms for keeping the peace within his jurisdiction; but apparently allowed to apprehend only and deliver over to a Mussulman magistrate for trial and punishment. This is in abstract, my present idea of a zemindar under the Moghul constitution and practice.' I will now add, in concluding this imperfect statement of the discussions which have taken place relative to the rights of zemindars, that after the elapse of twenty-eight years since the above definition was given I see no reason to alter it, as applicable to the principal zemindars of Bengal and Behar, before the conclusion of a permanent settlement with them for the land of their respective zemindaries."1 This definition, it will be seen, substantially agrees with the description I have given of the zemindar's position.

Harington's Analysis, Vol. Ill, 398 to 400.

« ПредишнаНапред »