Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

PROPRIETARY RIGHTS. 271

since the power to proceed in this manner is given to the Lucrum Collector. —

With regard to proprietary rights, the zemindars were Proprietary

r» • It -i rights.

at first entirely dispossessed and treated as mere officers of Government: gradually, however, a larger right came to be recognised in them, and finally they were considered as something like proprietors of the land, and as entitled to the payments made by the ryots: but the right thus recognised was one which was to a great extent dependent upon their good behaviour, and the most stringent rules were laid down for the protection of the ryots, who are also recognised as having rights in the land, not inferior in validity, if subordinate in degree, to those of the zemindars.

With regard to the revenue machinery, the fluctuating The fiscal principles adopted show probably the difficulty of fixing upon any effective scheme, rather than vacillation on the part of the authorities. These changes, however, no doubt tended to obscure the rights of the parties interested in the land and the revenue, and were thus favourable in the end to the zemindars. The endeavour by the Government to obtain increased centralisation failed, both in respect of the attempted management of the revenues from the Presidency, and also in respect of the efforts by Government to escape from dependence upon the zemindars. These attempts failed, for the same reason as in Mahomedan times: the zemindars were in both cases too strong for the Government

LECTURE VIII.

THE DECENNIAL AND PERMANENT SETTLEMENTS.

The Decennial Settlement preparatory to a Permanent Settlement—Views of Mr. Grant and Mr. Shore—Discussion between Lord Cornwallis and Mr. Shore— The talookdar8—Proprietary rights—Result of the discussion—Zemindars forbidden to collect the sayer—Recovery of rent and revenue—Lakhiraj Regulations—Disqualified landholders—Decennial Settlement Regulations— Hokurreree leases—Istemrardars—Settlement of the land of disqualified proprietors—Settlement with mortgagees and others—Pensions to be paid by Government—Nankar, khamar, and neej-jote—Settlement of rent.—Engagements with the under-renters—The landholders—Remedies frr recovery of rent—The Permanent Settlement—Introduction of a general code of law— Proclamation of the Permanent Settlement—Assessment on lands farmed or held khas when sold or divided—Further provisions—Object and effect of the Permanent Settlement—Rights of the zemindars—The zemindars not made absolute proprietors—The aurungs of Beerbhoom—Extension of cultivation.

The Decennial We have now reached the most important epoch in the preparatory history of the Land Tenures of Bengal, the period at which

to a Permanent , i . n •

Settlement, the zemindars were secured in the permanent enjoyment of their position by the Decennial and Permanent Settlements. The Decennial Settlement was from the first intended to be preparatory to a Permanent Settlement; and when the Regulations of 1789 for the Decennial Settlement of Bengal were promulgated, Lord Cornwallis was authorised to declare that, subject to the approval of the Directors in England, the "jumma would remain fixed for ever." We have already seen that the object of the Directors was to give value to the rights then possessed by the zemindars by adding the security, which had hitherto been wanting, of a fixed assessment, at any rate for a term of ten years. The rights of the zemindars had already

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

OBJECT OF THE DECENNIAL SETTLEMENT. 273

increased considerably in value notwithstanding the fre- Lectukk quent changes in revenue affairs: this increased value was, — as Sir Henry Maine observes, "the fruit of the British peace." The Directors desired to complete the work by putting an end to the precariousness of the zemindar's tenure; being satisfied that all the good results which they had in view, and which included the creation of a class of more permanent landholders, would follow from the renunciation by the State of the right to constant revisions of the jumma. It does not appear that they intended to part with any other right which belonged to the State, either as one of the sharers in the produce of the land, or in its wider capacity as representing the general community, except tbe right to raise the jumma. And at the Decennial Settlement it is highly improbable that they could have intended to grant to the zemindars proprietary rights in the soil different from those supposed to be already possessed by them, since the actual settlement was only for ten years. They would hardly have created landholders holding by a fee-simple tenure, but with the inconsistent limitation that it should determine at the end of ten years. Probably they thought that the rights of the zemindars were already of such a character that, if anything more than a permanent jumma was necessary to turn their tenure into freehold, it would follow from the permanency of the settlement. The only question, as we shall see, which called for immediate decision was as to the proper person to be settled with, either permanently or for a term; and although in seeking for such a person they naturally considered that if they could find a freeholder they need seek no further, and although they fancied they had found some resemblance to a freeholder in the zemindar, they

[ocr errors][merged small]

Lkcturu were still only inquiring into the proprietary rights of the — zemindars with a view to the settlement of the revenne upon fixed principles. They had comparatively little difficulty in deciding that the zemindars in Bengal—there was more doubt as to Behar—were the proper persons to be settled with: but it cannot be said that the search for an absolute proprietary right in the zemindar, or in any one else, was equally successful. They considered the zemindar the nearest approach to what they were seeking; and they considered that for this and other reasons he was the proper person to be settled with. That this conclusion was practically a correct one follows from the views I have endeavoured to explain as to the zemindar's position in later times. Views ol I have already referred to the enquiries which were

Mr. Grant ,. , . . .ini

and Mr. Shore, instituted with an immediate view to the Decennial Settlement. There had, however, been two important contributions to the discussion of the subject made by Mr. Grant at an earlier date: these were his Political Survey of the Northern Circars, dated the 20th December 1784, and his Analysis of the Finances, of the 27th April 1786. These dissertations enforced in the most emphatic way the official position of the zemindar and the paramount right of the State to the absolute property in the land. But before the production of the second of these treatises the reaction in favour of the rights of the zemindar had reached such a height that a settlement, and even a permanent settlement, with the zemindars was almost a foregone conclusion. Enquiries were, however, directed, and on the 2nd April 1788 Mr. Shore produced an elaborate minute1 on the subject,

Harington's Analysis, Vol. III, 228.

MR. Shore1s Views. 275

giving a sketch of the Mahomedan system, from which he Lkcturb deduces " that the rents belong to the sovereign, and the — land to the zemindar,1 in opposition to the opinion of Mr. Grant, and to an opinion of the Board of Revenue, given in 1786, that a zemindary was " a conditional office, annually renewable and revocable on defalcation."2 Again on the 18th June 1789 Mr. Shore recorded the minute3 which was the basis to a great extent of the Permanent Settlement. From this minute he deduced a number of propositions which formed the first sketch of the Decennial Settlement Regulation,4 and were substantially embodied in that Settlement. As to the interest which Mr. Shore proposed to leave in the zemindars, however absolute in quality, it was small in extent, being only ten per cent, of the net jumma; and this share was to include the revenue of their nankar or other rent-free lands.5 And when the zemindar was dispossessed he was to receive only five per cent, as a provision.6 Mr. Shore also proposed that when zemindars made undue exactions from the talookdars, the talook3 should be separated, and made independent of the zemindar.7

In a further minute, dated 18th September 1789, relating Discussion mainly to Behar, Mr. Shore opposes perpetuity of settle- Comwaiiis and ment ;8 and Lord Cornwallis, in a minute of the same date,9 answers Mr. Shore's minute. He considers Mr. Shore has

[ocr errors]
« ПредишнаНапред »