AGRICULTURE AND IRRIGATION
The most prevalent form of tenure in Sholapur district is the ryotwari tenure. No land is exempted from paying land revenue except under tenures of contract or agreement under the terms of any Act of the Legislature. In the ryotwari tenure, the land revenue is fixed not upon an estate as a whole or on a village as a whole, but on individual survey numbers or on sub-divisions of those numbers. The settlement of land revenue is made by the Government with each individual or ryot. Therefore, the survey settlement tenure is called ryotwari tenure. Under the inam tenure, the land is held on assessment which is not liable to revision and, in some cases, it is even free of any assessment. The land revenue assessments are fixed under the provisions of the Land Revenue Code as amended in 1939. Assessment is based not only on advantages arising from rainfall or kind of crop sown, etc., but also on those arising from soil, water resources and location. Agricultural lands are hence divided into three
main classes, viz., dry crop, rice and garden lands and the classification values of soils of different grades of productivity are fixed in terms of annas. Land revenue settlements are ordinarily made every thirty years for a taluka. The lands used for agriculture are divided into groups on consideration of physical features and other factors mentioned in section 117-G of the Land Revenue Code. The assessment is fixed on survey numbers and sub-divisions of survey numbers on the basis of standard rates fixed for the group, as the result of a settlement or revision settlement in accordance with the rules as laid down in the Land Revenue Code. In the case of an original settlement, the standard rate for a group should not exceed 35 per cent of the average of the rental values of all occupied lands in the group for a period of five years preceding immediately the year in which the settlement is directed. In the case of a revision settlement the existing aggregate assessment should not be increased by more than 25 per cent in the case of a taluka or a group or by more than 50 per cent in the case of a survey number or sub-division thereof. These limits can be relaxed under special circumstances (such as highly irrigated areas). Government may declare, after a settlement is effected, that the assessment has been fixed with reference to specified prices of specified classes of the agricultural produce. When such a declaration has been made, the State Government may reduce or enhance the assessment in the area concerned by granting a rebate or by placing a surcharge on the assessment by a reference to the alteration of the price of the classes of the agricultural produce as specified in the declaration.
The assessment fixed under the settlement is not collected in full in all years. In years of distress, suspension of half or full land revenue is given on the basis of the condition of crops. The annual land revenue demand is then fixed on the basis of annewari, which means an estimate of the yield of crops in a particular year relative to the standard normal yield which is equated to sixteen annas.
The land revenue thus suspended for one year becomes due for recovery in the
next or subsequent years, provided that the crops are in a satisfactory
position. In case there is a succession of bad seasons then the suspensions for
the preceding three years are turned into remissions. The occupant holds his
lands direct from the Government. He has a right to hold the land in perpetuity
so long as he pays the land revenue to the Government as fixed at the time of
settlement. He has full powers to sell, mortgage, sub-let or dispose of the land
in the manner he thinks fit. Till 1946 the occupant of a land could lease a
portion or whole of his holding on annual tenancy at a rent agreed upon with the
tenant. But this right has been restricted by an amendment to the Bombay Tenancy Act, 1939, under which all tenancies were given a duration of a minimum period of ten years. The maximum rent was also fixed. A modified form of the ryotwari tenure known as the " new tenure " was introduced by the enactment of a new section 73-A and the insertion of a new provision to section 66 of the Bombay Land Revenue Code in 1901. These restrictions are designed to protect the occupants against their imprudent readiness to alienate the lands and the security. This form of tenure applies only to new occupancies granted. Under this tenure, lands are granted at concessional rates of occupancy price only to bona fide cultivators belonging to backward classes and that too on condition that the land shall not be transferred except with the permission of the Collector. The land is of course subject to the usual land revenue. After abolition of the various inams under the provisions of the land revenue abolition Acts, the resumed lands have been re-granted to the original holders on similar conditions.
There is then the inam tenure. The word inam in its primary sense means a gift and in its secondary sense it means a grant. The land under this tenure is technically called " alienated land " which means " transferred in so far as the rights of Government to payment of the rent or land revenue are concerned, wholly or partially, to the ownership of any person " as defined in the Land Revenue Code. The main feature of this tenure is that the land is held on a reduced assessment not liable to revision and, in some cases, held free of assessment. The inam lands have now been settled on their present holders under the Survey Settlement Act of 1863. These inams (including both lands and cash allowances) can be broadly classified into two kinds; firstly, those held on the condition of performing some office or service or discharging some obligation or trust (in some cases, the duty of trust to be fulfilled was charitable or religious); and secondly, those encumbered by any such burden, condition or liability. Saranjams or other political tenures (inam class I), religious endowments (inam class III), service inams (inams class IV, V and VI) fall under the first category while personal inams (class II) fall under the second category.
Political inams, including saranjams and jahagirs, generally mean grants by the State for performance of civil or military duty or for the maintenance of the personal dignity of nobles and high officials. Some of them were guaranteed by a special treaty between the Moghals and the British Government, while others were settled by the Inam Commission. In the former case, the tenure is hereditary and is to last in perpetuity while in the latter case, it is to last for a short or long period as fixed by the Commission. Ordinarily these
inams are impartible and inalienable. There are instances in which a jahagir has been held to be partible and alienable, but generally devolution of such inams is by the rule of lineal primogeniture, younger members being entitled to maintenance. According to the provisions of the Bombay Saranjams, Jagirs and Other Inams of Political Nature Resumption Rules, 1952, the inams of political nature consisting of grant of soil with or without the exemption from payment of land revenue have been abolished with effect from 1st November 1952, and the Saranjams consisting of exemption from payment of land revenue only were abolished with effect from August 1, 1953, if the amount of such exemption exceeds Rs. 5,000 and with effect from 1st August 1955 in all other cases. Under the provisions of the Bombay Merged Territories and Areas (Jagir) Abolition Act, 1953, the jagirs in merged states have been abolished with effect from August 1, 1954.
Personal or Jat inams (class II) are gifts conferred on individuals. Some of them are in the nature of compensations. There are heritable and transferable properties of the holders or their lawful successors subject to the payment of fixed dues to the Government. By the Bombay Personal Inams Abolition Act (XLII of 1953), which came into effect on 20th June 1953, all personal inams are extinguished; in the case of personal inams consisting of exemption from the payment of land revenue only either wholly or partly with effect from August 1, 1953, if the amount of such exemption is equal to or exceeds Rs. 5,000 and with effect from 1st August 1955, in all other cases. Till June 1959 there were 206 personal inams and scattered lands together measuring 3,36,511 acres affected by the Act.
Devasthan inams (class III) are lands granted to religious bodies for the maintenance of temples or mosques and to similar institutions. The grant is made in perpetuity and the amount of land revenue fixed is not liable to revision. Devasthan inams are ordinarily inalienable and impartible. Succession thereto is regulated by the terms of the grant and the customs and usages of the endowment. The holders for the time being manage the inams in the capacity of trustees for the benefit of the endowment.
Kulkarni watans were found in the State. They were held by hereditary pargana and village officers whose watans were governed by the Bombay Hereditary Offices Act, 1874. They were responsible for the collection of the revenue of villages. The Kulkarnis were hereditary village accountants. They might possibly be the descendants or the remnants of the Gramlekhas of the old Hindu kingdoms. In view of their hereditary character, the service of village accountants was confined to particular families of the Brahmin caste. The remuneration of Kulkarnis was fixed. In view of the rigidity, indiscipline and
inefficiency, the hereditary system of Kulkarnis was found inadequate to meet the progressive requirements of modern village administration. An attempt was made in the first decade of the century to commute the Kulkarni watans under the provisions of section 15 of the Bombay Hereditary Offices Act, 1874. The commutations were done on the following main principles:-
(i) payment in perpetuity of a cash allowance equal to l/3rd of
the akarni (remuneration for collection of land revenue) and potgi (maintenance); and
(ii) continuance to the watandars of their watan lands subject
to enhancement of judi by 1/16th of full assessment provided the judi so enhanced did not exceed full assessment. Those, who
accepted the settlement, were granted sanads by Government.
On the above principles, many Kulkarni watans were commuted between 1914 and 1920. But the Kulkarnis in the Sholapur, Bijapur, Belgaum and Dharwar districts did not accept the commutation on the above principles, and remained a source of trouble to Government thereafter. In order to bring round the Kulkarnis of these districts, a Bill for compulsory commutation of the watans was drafted in 1914, but was not introduced presumably because of political reasons. In 1938, the Congress Ministry took up the question of commutation but dropped it on the ground of financial liabilities involved. It was finally decided to replace the Kulkarnis by talathis in 1946. Government therefore brought a Bill to abolish these watans in the autumn session of the legislature in 1950, which was passed with a few amendments.
All Kulkarni watans along with the right of services were abolished with effect from 1st May 1951, by the Bombay Pargana and Kulkarni Watans Abolition Act, 1950. Under the provisions of section IV
(1) of the Act, the holder was allowed to credit occupancy price for the re-grant of the land on or before 30th April 1956. The resumed lands for which the ex-holders failed to pay occupancy price vested in the Government on 1st May 1956 and the watan lands not re-granted to the holders of the watans were to be granted to the persons in actual possession thereof on payment of occupancy price equal to the proper market value to be fixed on the basis of statistics of sales of similar lands in the locality.
Service inams are holdings of lands or rights to receive cash payment or to levy customary fees or perquisites for the performance of certain services to the community or to the Government. The holders of such inams or watans are divided into two classes; firstly, district officers like the desais, deshmukhs or deshpandes who were the chief instruments for the collection of revenue under the Peshwas; and secondly, village officers useful to the Government like the patils or the kulkarnis who were given an adequate remuneration in the form of land or cash and village servants useful to the community such as the hajams, the kumbhars, the lohars, the sutars and the mochis among other artisans. The Bombay Service Inams Abolition Act, 1953, abolished with effect from April 1, 1954, all inams assigned for the performance of services useful to the community. The resumed lands of which the holder has not paid occupancy price before 31st March 1959, vest in the Government on 1st May 1956. These lands are to be re-granted to persons in actual possession thereof on payment of occupancy price equal to twenty-six times the assessment, if the holder of the service inams is in their actual possession. However, in the case of a holder, who is not a holder of the service inam but is in its actual possession and has permanent tenancy rights, an occupancy price equal to six times the rent is to be charged. In all other cases, an occupancy price to be charged is equal to the proper market value of the land. The Bombay Inferior Village Watans Abolition Act, 1958, puts an end to the inams assigned for the performance of services such as those given to the mahars and ramoshis, except patil inam.