Updated: Jul 6, 2021
The Assam Land Revenue Regulation of 1886 was passed to provide a more concrete and comprehensive nature to the land rights in Assam, as compared to the Medieval period till the early part of the 19th Century. So let us take a step further into the History of Land Rights in Assam.
Among one of the Chapters of this massive legislation, Chapter III provides us with the Settlement Operation of Land, Revenue Assessment and Land RIghts as well as how much ownership and rights could be resumed, if discontinued or lost.
COMPONENTS OF CHAPTER III
Chapter III of the Assam Land Revenue Regulation, 1886 (Sections 17-47) deals with Settlement operations and lays down the procedure for settlement of lands and survey of lands before such settlement.
It also provides for the Preparation of Record-of-Rights and prescribes the procedure for resuming land held revenue-free under invalid titles.
A settlement means the leasing of land at the disposal of the State Government and includes the operation of a survey, classification report, preliminary to such leasing.
The Settlement of a local area or a class of estates means a special operation .i.e., a settlement operation carried out for formal revision of the land revenue demand of that area or class of estates.
The term ‘Settlement’ has two distinct meanings:
The allotment of unoccupied land .i.e. land at the disposal of the State Government, at a revenue assessment calculated at fixed rates,
The modification of the rates at which occupied land (.i.e., land under previous settlement) has been assessed. This process is distinctively known as ‘Re-Settlement’.
Settlement Operation included one or more of the following operations:
(i) Survey & demarcation of lands
(ii) Assessment of land revenue
(iii) Preparation of Record-of-rights
Nowadays, the land is given on lease by the Government for a period of 30 years. The revenue and the terms and conditions remain fixed for 30 years. The Government will appoint certain officers for this purpose. These officers appointed by the government are called Settlement Officers.
The Settlement Officers conduct a survey, prepare a report and submit it to the State Government. The Government will give the widest possible publicity to the report.
If any person has any objection, then such person has to submit their objection within 30 days of the publication of the report.
If any objection is received by the State Government, then the State Government shall fix a date for hearing such objection.
Finally, the State Government will fix the revenue and the terms and conditions for the next 30 years. This is called ‘Settlement Operation’.
The three stages of settlement operation are discussed below:
1. Survey & Demarcation:
The Settlement officers of the Government of Assam will survey each land pilot in Assam. In this phase, villages are surveyed and the villages are measured and demarcated by suitable boundary marks.
For each village, a large Cadastral Map, based on the traverse survey, and showing roads, rivers, railways, and other physical features of the country and homesteads and other fields are prepared.
During the survey operation and measurement of plots, disputes regarding the boundaries of the plots may arise. In such a case, the survey officer will notify the statement officer, who will decide all disputes.
2. Preparation of Record-of-Rights:
During the Settlement Operation, record-of-rights for each state is prepared by the settlement officer. The record-of-rights is the ‘Jamabandi’ based on the ‘Chitha’ (.i.e. field index) and the field map. The record-of-rights is prepared in the manner provided by Settlement Rules 56-60.
After a village has been surveyed and demarcated a draft ‘Chitha’ or field index is prepared. This ‘Chitha’ is arranged according to the serial number of the fields in the village showing:
(i) Number of the field
(ii) Area of the field
(iii) Name, father’s name and residence of proprietor or settlement holder
(v) Assessment class.
From these, a draft Jamabandi is prepared highlighting classification of land and other details and a copy of such details is also furnished to the proprietors, landholders and settlement holders.
Any correction on the record-of-rights or Jamabandi is done by the settlement officer at the instance of proprietors, landholders etc., and is done after a proclamation duly published in the village giving due notice to the proprietors and settlement holders and a call to appear before him.
Disputes regarding such matter are decided in a summary manner by the Attestation officer, on basis of actual possession. This is known as Record Attestation.