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270 LORD CORNWALLIS' VIEWS.
Lkcturs "most successfully argued in favour of the rights of the —— zemindars to the property of the soil;" and he is of opinion that, in order to give value to these rights, they must be made permanent.1 He says:—
"Although, however, I am not only of opinion that the zemindars have the best right, but from being persuaded that nothing could be so ruinous to the public interest as that the land should be retained as the property of Government, I am also convinced that failing the claim of right of the zemindars, it would be necessary for the public good to grant a right of property in the soil to them or to persons of other descriptions. I think it unnecessary to enter into any discussion of the grounds upon which their right appears to be founded. It is the most effectual mode for promoting the general improvement of the country, which . I look upon as the important object for our present consideration.
"I may safely assert that one-third of the Company's territory in Hindostan is now a jungle inhabited only by wild beasts. Will a ten years' lease induce any proprietor to clear away that jungle and encourage the ryots to come and cultivate his lands, when at the end of that lease he must either submit to be taxed ad libitum for the newly cultivated lands, or lose all hopes of deriving any benefit from his labour, for which perhaps by that time he will hardly be repaid 1"
He further says:—" It is immaterial to Government what individual possesses the land, provided he cultivates it, protects the ryots, and pays the public revenue,"* and adds?
1 Fifth Report, Vol. I, 591
LORD CORNWALLIS' VIEWS. 277
"I understand the word 'permanency' toextend to the jumma L^r"R8 only, and not to the details of the settlement, for many — regulations will certainly be hereafter necessary for the further security of the ryots in particular, and even of those talookdars who, to my concern, must still remain in some degree of dependence on the zemindars; but these can only be made by Government occasionally, as abuses occur; and I will venture to assert that either now or ten years hence, or at any given period, it is impossible for human wisdom and foresight to form any plan that will not require such attention and regulation. I cannot, however, admit that such regulations can in any degree affect the rights which it is now proposed to confirm to the zemindars; for I never will allow that in any country Government can be said to invade the rights of a subject when they only require, for the benefit of the State, that he shall accept of a reasonable equivalent for the surrender of a real or supposed right which in his hands is detrimental to the general interest of the public; or when they prevent his committing cruel oppressions upon his neighbours or upon his own dependants."
Mr. Shore replies in another minute of the same date, in which he supports his former view, that ten years will in the estimation of the natives be equivalent to a perpetuity,1 and states that although he does not know whether onethird of the land is still jungle, yet since 1770 cultivation has greatly increased. He recommends grants of waste free of revenue for five years upon a talookdarry tenure; such grants to come into the general assessment at the end of ten years." He supports his view in favour of a ten years'
'Fifth Report, Vol. I, 594, 595.
278 Mr. Shore's Views.
Lecturs settlement as in conformity with the opinion of the Court VIII. — of Directors that "a definite term would be more pleasing
to the natives than a dubious perpetuity."1 He admits that
far greater abuses prevail in the detail of the collections in
Bengal than in Behar." On the same day that these minutes
were recorded the rules for the Decennial Settlement of
Behar were promulgated. On the 8th December 1789 Mr.
Shore wrote a further minute upon the general subject of
permanency of settlement." He remarks that, with respect
to the relations between the zemindars and their tenants,
the interference of the Government is absolutely necessary.
"This interference," he says,* " though so much modified, is
in fact an invasion of proprietary right and an assumption of
the character of landlord which belongs to the zemindar; for
it is equally a contradiction in terms to say that the property
in the soil is vested in the zemindar and that we have a right
to regulate the terms by which he is to let his lands to the
ryots, as it is to connect that avowal with discretionary and
arbitrary claims. If the land is the zemindar's, it will only
be partially his property whilst we prescribe the quantum
which he is to collect, or the mode by which the adjustment
of it is to take place between the parties concerned."
And again,5 " much time will, I fear, elapse before we can
estabUsh 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 simple
MB. Shore's Views. 279
principles of landlord and tenant. But substance is more L^T.^"H important than forms. If the propositions of the Collectors — for correcting the prevailing abuses be examined, they will be found defective; and the regulations which our experience has enabled us to establish will, when considered, appear indefinite, where they ought to have the utmost precision. Orders which should be positive are tempered by cautious conditions, nor am I ashamed to distrust my own knowledge, since I have frequent proofs that new enquiries lead to new information. Notwithstanding repeated prohibitions against the introduction of new taxes, we still find that many have been established of late years. The idea of the imposition of taxes by a landlord upon his tenant implies an inconsistency; and the prohibition in spirit is an encroachment upon proprietary right, for it is saying to the landlord you shall not raise the rents of your estate. But without expatiating on this part of the argument, I shall only here observe that, with an exception of au arbitrary limitation in favour of the khode and khaust ryots, the regulations for the new settlement virtually confirm all these taxes, without our possessing any records of them, and without knowing how far they are burthensome or otherwise. In some cases a knowledge of those impositions has been followed by the abolition of them, in others it may be equally necessary; wherever it takes place there is a risk that the assessment will suffer a proportionate diminution. At present they are in many places so numerous and complicated that after having obtained an enumeration of the whole, the amount of the ausil with the proportionate rates of the several abwabs, it requires an accountant of some ability to calculate what a ryot is to pay, and the calculation may
280 LORD CORNWALLIS' VIEWS.
Lkcturk be presumed beyond the ability of most tenants. The — pottah rarely expresses the sum total of the rents, and it is difficult to determine what is extortion."
He speaks of the persons settled with as "those whom we acknowledge to be the proprietors of the soil ;"1 and is therefore of opinion that Government ought not to authorise their permanent dispossession on account of their refusing to agree to the settlement.2
In answer to this minute, Lord Cornwallis,3 on the 3rd February 1790, refers to the alleged incapacity of the zemindars, which is relied upon by Mr. Shore as an objection to a permanent settlement with them. Lord Cornwallis considers that this arose from the state of tutelage in which they were kept, being forbidden to borrow money or dispose of their lands without the knowledge of Government.4 With reference to the inconsistency alleged by Mr. Shore, in refusing to allow the zemindars to raise the rent of the ryots by imposing fresh taxes, he remarks that such impositions violate the rights of the ryots, since every beegah of land possessed by the ryots "must have been cultivated under an express or implied agreement that a certain sum should be paid for each beegah of produce."5 The right of occupancy by the ryots he also considers not to be inconsistent with the rights of the zemindars: he says6 "neither is the privilege which the ryots in many parts of Bengal enjoy of holding possession of the spots