PERMANENT SETTLEMENT AND MARAVAR ZAMINS

Madras Regulation XXV of 1802 insisted the landholder to grant each

tenant a Patta which mentioned the amount to be paid by him and which explained

every condition of the contract. When a Zamindar refused to comply with the

demands of his tenants they had the right to sue him in the Adalat of the Zillah.

After the expiry of a reasonable period of time from the execution of Kabuliyat, it

was the duty of the Zamindar to renew it. If not he should be liable to be sued in

the Adalat of the Zillah and the Zamindar should also be liable to such damages as

might be decreed by the Adalat to the complainant.’

   Young Uttumalai zamindar with Anglo-officer

In 1803, 25 erstwhile

Palayakkarars received the Sanad-i-Milkiat Istimirar or deed of permanent

settlement and become Zamindars. They were:

  1. Ettaiyapuram
  2. Melmandai
  3. Attankarai
  4. Kadambur (Maravar Zamin)
  5. Maniyachi (Maravar Zamin)
  6. Shivagiri (Maravar Zamin)
  7. Talaivankottai (Maravar Zamin)
  8. Avudaiyapuram (Nerkattumseval) (Maravar Zamin)
  9. Naduvakuruchi (Maravar Zamin)
  10. Alagapuri (Maravar Zamin)
  11. Uttumalai (Maravar Zamin)
  12. Surandai (Maravar Zamin)
  13. Chokkampatti (Maravar Zamin)
  14. Urkadu (Maravar Zamin)

Selection from Old Records, Letter No: 124, Madras, 1934, p. 147.

  1. Singampatti (Maravar Zamin)

16.Mannarkottai

  1. Sennalgudi

IS.Kollarpatti

  1. Seittur (Maravar Zamin)
  2. Pavali
  3. Kollamkondan (Maravar Zamin)
  4. Peraiyur

23.Elumalai

  1. Sandaiyur
  2. Saptur

Palayakkarars lost their military power and became the subject of the

Company. The military establishments of all the Palayakkarars were disbanded as

a part of the permanent settlement scheme.

According to the terms of Sanad, the Zamindar was given the right to

collect land revenue and other items and enjoy the benefits and pre-requisites

thereof only as long as he was loyal to the Government.

^ H. R. Pate, Tinnevelly District Gazetteer, Madras, 1916, p. 273.

^Appendices to the Report of the Madras Estate Land Act Committee, Madras, 1938, p. 35.

“* The Zamindari System in Madras: Government’s Proposals for Abolition. P. 7.

The Terms of the Sanad-i-Milkiat Istimirar

The Zamindar should regularly pay in all seasons the amount of the

permanent assessment. The remissions which had been granted, according to the

custom of the country, on account of drought, flood or other natural calamity of

the season were stopped. If the Zamindar failed to discharge his responsibility his

Zamindari and his personal property were liable to attachment in the first instance.

If there was recurrence of such failure the lands would be ultimately confiscated

and sold. The Zamindar will forever lose the land for non-payment of the public

revenue. Since the terms of assessment on the Zamindari was moderate this event

happened only in consequence of Zamindar’s own default.^

The Zamindar was at liberty to transfer, without the previous consent of

Government, or of any other authority, the Zamindar’s proprietory right in the

whole or in any part of the Zamindari. Such transfer of land was valid and

recognized by the courts and officers of Government provided they were not

violative of the Muhammadan or Hindu laws or the regulations of the British

Government. The sale, gift or transfer must have been regularly registered at the

office of the Collector. Otherwise such sale, gift or transfer was of no legal force.

In the event of sale, gift or transfer, the Zamindar was to furnish the Collector with

true account of entire Zamindari. Although the Zamindar was entitled to transfer.

^ Selection from Old Records, Enclosure of Sanad-i-Milkiat Istimirar with Letter No: 124,

Madras, 1934, p. 46.

the Zamindars were forbidden to make any part of their lands into a separate

estate, paying its jumma directly to Government, unless the public assessment on

such separate estate shall amount to the annual value of 500 star pagodas.^

In the event of the sale of any part of his Zamindari for the settlement of

arrears of assessment, he shall identify the part of his Zamindari to be so

separated. The assessment to be settled on the separated parts of the Zamindari

lands should be proportionate to the actual produce of the separated portion.

The Karnam was appointed from time to time by the Zamindar. The

Government discharged the police duty and defrayed the entire expense of that

establishment. The Zamindar enquired and sent the list of all robbers or disturbers

of the public peace to the Magistrate.^

Kabuliyat of Shivagiri Zamin

A Zamindar by an agreement had to accept the terms of the Sanad

through a Kabuliyat. The Zamindar of Shivagiri by that Kabuliyat agreed to

continue to pay the assessment of his Zamindari fixed at the assessment made in

the year 1803 (fasli 1212). Accordingly the annual sum of star pagodas sixteen

thousand was fixed which was acknowledged later by the Zamindar to be the

‘Ibid. ^Ibid. ^ Ibid., p. 47. 93

permanent annual Peshkush of his Zamindari payable in the then prevailing coin

of the province in fixed monthly installment.^

The Zamindar was committed to pay regularly in all seasons the amount

permanently assessed and to fulfil this commitment at all costs. He accepted the

condition that no remission would be given on account of drought, flood or any

other natural calamity. Even in extreme famine conditions only postponement of

collection of Kist was ordered. The district Collector in the context of famine

proposed and Board of Revenue sanctioned the collection of tax in the Zamindari

estates of Tirunelveli district. He recommended the postponement of Peshkush for

the estates in Tenkasi, Sankarankoil and Srivilliputhur Taluks till Kists were due

next year. He instructed that similar gesture must be shown to tenants by

Zamindars.^’

The Zamindar accepted to aid and assist the police officers in

apprehending and securing offenders of all description. He agreed to enquire and

give notice to the magistrate of all robbers or disturbers of the public peace who

1 ‘y

might be found or who might seek refuge in his Zamindari.

‘ Selection from Old Records, Enclosvire of the Kabuliyat with Letter No: 76, p. 50.

‘°Ibid.

” Proceedings of the Board of Revenue for the year 1891, p. 348.

‘^ Selection from Old Records, Enclosure of the Kabuliyat with Letter No: 76, p. 5 L

Peshkush Amount

The land revenue demand on all Zamindaris, Mittahs and other

proprietory estates were fixed once for all. Water rates were charged on Zamindari

lands when water was used from source of irrigation newly created by the

Government. The charge was made only on lands actually irrigated. ^ ^ The

Peshkush of large Zamindaris was generally paid into the collector’s treasury and

that of small Zamindaris into Taluk treasury. ^” ^

Peshkush Amount for Shivagiri

Shivagiri was a Zamindari situated mainly in the north west of the

Sankarankoil Taluk of Tirunelveli district with an area of nearly 125 square miles,

excluding 30 square miles of forest on the slopes of Western Ghats. The Peshkush

of the Zamindari was originally fixed in 1802^^ (fasli 1211). The Zamin paid a

Peshkush of Rs.55000/- and a land cess amounting to Rs.5000/. The income of the

estate was about Rs. 1,84,000. Even as late as 1879 there was no change in the

Peshkush amount paid (Rs.54580-2-0).^^

‘^ C. Annadurai Aiyer, The revenue code containing all the unrepealed revenue regulations and

Acts applicable to the Madras Presidency (from 1802 – 1894), Madras, 1894, p. 38.

” Ibid., p. 40.

” Petition on behalf of M. R. Ry. Senthatikalai Pandia Chinna Thambiar, Zamindar of Shivagiri

to the Asst. Commissioner of Income Tax, Madurai on 29-01-1931.

‘^ A. J. Stuart, Tinnevelly Manual, p. 99.

The Zamindar paid the Peshkush but the question was whether he paid

land revenue in respect of the forests included in his Zamindari. A Sanad was

issued to him on 24 September 1841, as the original Sanad granted in 1802 had

been lost. The second Sanad mentioned only 102 villages and not the forests. But

it was claimed that the Zamindar’s forests were also included in the assessment of

Peshkush. Income tax officer assessment of the Zamindar’s income from forests

was as follows

Forest revenue proper

Forest miscellaneous revenue

Rs.  -A-P

Rs. 14782-6-0

Rs. 899-0-0

Total Rs. 15681-6-0

Deduct establishment charges etc. Rs. 1513-14-10

Net income  Rs.14167-7-2

The Zamindar’s lawyer claimed that the income from fisheries was also

agricultural income. But it had been held in various high court decisions that

income from fisheries could not be treated as agricultural income. The Zamindar’s

accounts showed that his income from fisheries in the year of 1929-30 came to

” I.T. Department, File No: 2146 – 1929-30.

Rs.5469-7-0. He claimed a deduction of Rs.852-11-8 on the ground that he

incurred certain estabUshment charges for deriving the income.’^

Peshkush Amount for Seittur

The Peshkush amount fixed for Seittur Zamin was Rs.12636-13-1.^^

According to the private papers of Seittur Zamin, the Zamin derived a land

revenue of Rs.35,000/- and the forest revenue of Rs. 1000/-. The Zamin’s Peshkush

remained Rs. 12441/- even at the turn of the 20* century.^° The total Peshkush,

according to the Collector’s record, amounted to Rs.12,533-7-9. ^’

Revenue Divisional Officer submitted a statement showing the

reduction of Peshkush to be made for Seittur Zamindari on account of the lands

acquired for a burning ground at north Seittur. The following statement shows the

reduction made in the Peshkush of Seittur Zamindari. But even here there is no

substantial charge in the amount of Peshkush collected.

  • «Ibid.

” A. J. Stuart, Tinnevelly Manual, p. 112.

^° Private Paper – IR 59, File No: 59, True copy of Letter written on 29-11-1905 by V.I.S. Sevuga

Pandia Thevar, the Zamindar of Seittur.

^’ Ramnad District Collectorate Record 72/18, 9-4-1918. Letter from Senneck LC.S, Sub

Collector of Sivakasi to the Collector of Ramnad.

Total revenue of the estate Rs.88385-6-1

Peshkush in the year 1920 Rs. 12536-11 -2

Peshkush for the following year Rs. 12536-8-2

Source: Ramnad District Collectorate Record 83/20, 19-08-1920.

Peshkush Amount for Chockampatti Zamin

In 1802 the Peshkush amount fixed for Chockampatti Zamindari an

ancient Palayam in Tirunelveli district was Rs.25,550-0-0, it assets being valued at

Rs.46,465-8-0.^^

Peshkush Amount for Talaivankottai Zamin

Talaivankottai was the headquarters of this ancient Zamin about 10

square miles in extent which comprised two villages and yielded an annual rental

of about Rs.20,000/. Its population in 1910 was 3085.^^ According to A. J. Stuart,

it was one among the seven minor Zamindaris and the Peshkush amount of the

Zamindari was Rs.2732-9-0.^”^

The Zamindars of the attached estates had no mocasee and

Kattukuthagai villages or Sarvamaniyam lands in their estates with the exception

of the Zamindar of Talaivankottai who had a kattukuthagai village named

^^ Selection from Old Records, Letter No: 54, 21-04-1838, p. 36.

“‘ H. R. Pate, Tinnevelly District Gazetteer, p. 419.

^’^ A. J. Stuart, Tinnevelly Manual, p. 99.

Darukapuram in Sankarankoil Taluk which paid to the government annually

Rs.1272-11-7. This village was not attached because it did not form any part of the

estate and consequently the average income derived therefrom to the holder was

unknown.

Rule of Succession in Maravar Zamins

Opinions were received from the several ancient Zamindaris and

Palayakkarars in the Timnelveli district on the subject of the rule of succession

among the children of several wives. Zamindars of Shivagiri, Maniyachi,

Naduvakuruchi, Kadambur, Talaivankottai, Melmandi, Surandi, Attangarai etc

gave their opinion that the eldest surviving male issue of the wife earliest in order

should be the heir to his father.’^^ Uttumalai Zamindar expressed the view that if a

Zamindar had married two wives at the same time the first bom son of either of

those should be considered senior for the succession.^^

The Seittur, KoUamkondan, Aavudaiyapuram declared that the

Zamindars had the power to select the heir among all his sons by different wives.

Seittur Zamindar stated that the rule for Zamindars of his Marava caste was that

the son of the first wife if he survived was rightful heir. In the event of absence of

^^ Selection from Old Records, Letter No: 41, 5-03-1836, p. 3.

-^ Selection from Old Records, Letter No: 166, 24-08-1849, pp. 94-95.

27 Ibid. 99

a son by the first wife, the first bom among the sons by all other wives had right to

succeed his father.

The Collector E.B. Thomas argued that the widow’s opinion was

preferable since her claim was supported by many of the Hindu laws. ^^

The Government did not regulate the succession to Zamindaris. They

sometimes interfered to recognize a prima facie claimant in cases of death and

pending decision of the law courts. The ancient Zamindaris like Ramnad,

Sivagangai differed then from those subsequently created under Regulation No.

XXV of 1802 in two respects. In cases of succession by death, the law of

primogeniture facilitated the oldest son succeeding and the remainder of the

family being entitled to no more than maintenance.

Only in ancient Zamindaris the Zamindar was restrained from alienating

his estate beyond his life time. In the case of all other estates, which were not

ancient Zamindaris, the ordinary Hindu rule of inheritance prevailed. They were

sub-divided and alienated freely like any form of real property. The Government

had no concern with regard to the question of succession.’^^

^^ Ibid., p. 95..^’ Letter of E.B. Thomas, 13.09.1845.

30 CD. Maclean, Manual of the Administration of the Madras Presidency, vol. I, p. 120.

100 Travails of the Permanent Settlement

The proprietory rights of the Zamindars were not absolute. It was

dependent on the proper and punctual payment of the Peshkush. Default in

revenue would give the British a free hand to take over the estate. However, that

right was not to curtail the established rights of the tenantry.

Under the permanent settlement the Zamindaris were invested neither

with political nor with legal authority. A special commission on Ramnad,

Sivagangai and Tirunelveli reported in 1803 that the Palayakkarars of

Naduvakuruchi, Maniyachi, Surandai, Melmandai, Attangarai, Singampatti and

Aavudaiyapuram felt that the resources of their Palayams were unequal to the

-J T payment of the increased Peshkush.

^’ Nicholas. B. Dirks, “From Little Kingdoms to Landlord”, Comparative Study in Society and

History, vol. 28, 307.33, New York, 1986, p. 318.

‘- Ibid., p. 323.

 

” Appendices to the Report of Madras  Estate Land Act Committee, 1938, p. 83.

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