In 1580, Emperor Akbar instituted a new system called the ’Dahsala’. Under this system, the average produce of different crops as well as the average prices prevailing over last ten (dah) years was calculated and one-third of the average produce was the state share. Later on, a further improvement was made by not only taking local prices into account; parganas having same type of productivity were grouped into separated assessment circles. Thus the peasant was required to pay land revenue ion the basis of local produce as well as local prices. Being deeply interested in the improvement of land records, the peasants were given loans for seeds, implements, animal etc. in times of needs and loans were recovered in easy installments during the period of good produce. In order to keep track of all such information, the records were maintained to know the extent of ownership/possession, cultivation, land types etc.
During the colonial period, the Britishers used the records maintained, after carrying out such modifications as were deemed necessary, primarily for the purpose revenue collection. At the time of independence in 1947, the lands were broadly held under two different systems:
In this system including its variants like jagirs, imams etc. composed of large estates comprising sometimes-even hundreds of villages. Zamindars, themselves seldom cultivated the land rather mostly got it cultivated through tenants, sub-tenants, share croppers, labourers etc. and exploited them. They enjoyed administrative and judicial powers and patronage of the Britishes.
In this system, the land belonged to the agriculture class.
The main aim of British’s for enforcement & strict administration of land records was mainly focused on the collection of land revenue.
Land Records Administration in Himachal Pradesh
Himachal Pradesh with an area of 55673 sq. Kms comprises of 12 districts having 110 Tehsils. The districts are further put under three revenue divisions namely Shimla, Kangra & Mandi. The class of Revenue Officers who administer and exercise the general superintendence and control over all the other revenue officials are as under:
. Financial Commissioner (Revenue)
· Divisional Commissioners of Shimla, Kangra & Mandi Division
· Collector or Deputy Commissioners
· Assistant Collector of the 1st Grade
· Assistant Collector of the 2nd Grade
The nodal officer for the state is the Director of Land Records.
The basic functions of the Revenue administrative set-up in Himachal Pradesh are:
. Maintenance of various documents and regular updations
. Implementation of various laws and policies announced by the government from time to time
Land Records Maintenance in Himachal Pradesh
The land records are maintained in the manner prescribed under Section 31 - 37 of Himachal Pradesh Land Revenue Act. Under this Act elaborate procedures for making the new records at the time of new settlement and their periodical updating have been laid down. The system of land administration is similar to a great extent to that in Punjab and is perhaps one of the best in the country.
In the present manual system, the revenue authorities maintain the following types of periodical documents.
1. Shajra Nasb (Pedigree Table)
2. Jamabandi and associated statements (Records of Rights)
3. Intkal (Mutation Register)
4. Khasra Girdawari(Harvest Inspection) Register
5. Khatoni(Field Map)
6. Village, Tehsil & District Note Book (Lal Kitab)
An introduction about the documents mentioned above is given below:
SHAJRA NASB (Genealogical Table)
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Prepared in every estate at the time of settlement, it forms a part of record of rights. Shajra Nasb is a pedigree table showing succession to ownership rights occurring from time to time in an estate. It is revised after every five years along with Jamabandi and in the interval; changes occurring from time to time are reflected in the Patwari’s (Village Accountant) copy through suitable references.
The Shajra Nasb also serves as an index for locating an owner’s accounts (Khata Numbers) in the Jamabandi. In the new Jamabandi owner’s accounts are arranged as per arrangement in the Shajra Nasb. The name of owner in the Shajra Nasb is arranged according to caste and sub-caste.
This is a unique record in itself where the records of last 10 generation is available and is prepared only in North India. Though other states in North India prepare it at the time of settlement but do not update it five yearly but in Himachal Pradesh, this information is being maintained & updated regularly.
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It is prepared quinquenially in duplicate for every estate on the basis of entries existing and changes recorded on the Mutation Register, Khasra Girdawari Register and Fard Badr(Errata) over a period of 5 years. It is the document to which a presumption of truth is attached. The form of the Jamabandi has 12 columns and gives Khewat / Khatoni number-wise information of total holding of each owner of land in a particular revenue estate. It also indicates cultivation, rent and revenue and other cesses payable on land and constitutes an up to date record of various rights in land. The new Jamabandi is prepared by the Patwari and is attested by the Revenue Office in a public meeting of local villages. Two copies of the revised Jamabandi are prepared, one copy is filed to the District Record Room and other copy remains with the Patwari. All changes in title/interests of the revenue estate coming into the notice of Revenue Authorities are duly reflected in the Jamabandi according to set procedures.
All changes in title or interest are incorporated into the Jamabandi through attestation of mutation. The Patwari enters the mutations on the basis of a document/verbal information presented by the concerned parties for the change in title/interest on land. This information is first entered into the Patwari’s Diary (Roznamcha Wakyati) giving serial no. And date and then into the mutation register referencing the Roznamcha no. However, the final changes in the Jamabandi are made only after the Revenue officer has attested the mutation. The mutation form has 15 columns and every entry is given a Serial Number, which is called Mutation Number. This Mutation Number runs continuously from one settlement to another for each estate. The Patwari maintains the Mutation register and all entries are made in duplicate. The Patwari’s copy (PARAT PATWAR) contains the brief substance of the Revenue Officer’s order, while the other copy (PARAT SARKAR) contains the detailed order and is kept in the Tehsil in separate estate-wise bundles. Whenever a mutation is entered, the Patwari makes a note in the remark column of the Jamabandi in pencil giving the Mutation No. and type of mutation. When the mutation is attested, he makes the entry in Red ink, giving Mutation No., type and date of attestation.
When the new Jamabandi is written, all the mutations accepted are attached to the new Jamabandi for cross-reference and an index sheet linking the mutations to the Khatas is placed in the Jamabandi.
It is a register of harvest inspections unlike the Jamabandi, which is Khewat-wise, the Girdawari, is Khasra-wise. The Patwari conducts a field-to-field harvest inspection every six months in the month of October and April. He records the plot-wise details regarding crop grown, land description and status of the cultivator. This register is considered important as it acts as master file for the preparation of many returns and reports. This document is retained in the custody of Patwari for the period of 12 years after which it is retrieved from him and destroyed. No presumption of truth is attached to this record though entries in it are often used as evidence in courts. Changes in the tenancy however are made through mutations in view of Section 10-A on the Tenancy Act.
A field map for every revenue village is prepared at the time of the Settlement. The original map is called ’MUSAVI’. Its updated version is called ’SHAJRA KISTWAR’ and these are kept in safe custody in the Record Room. A wax copy called ’MOMI’ is available in the Tehsil.
All changes in field boundaries occurring due to partition, sale etc. attested in Mutation are entered from the Parat Sarkar(Government Copy) Mutation onto the Momi. A copy on cloth called ’LATHA’ is kept and updated by the Patwari.
VILLAGE NOTE BOOK
Popularly known as "LAL KITAB" these are prepared at the time of settlement. The kitab has valuable information regarding crops grown in the estate, soil classification, area under different crops, land use, transfers in land, wells and other means of irrigation in the village and abstract of the livestock and cattle census in the village. The data is updated regularly through harvest inspections and revisions of other records, which are the main source of the data to this kitab. These Lal Kitabs are prepared at village, tehsil and district level and maintained in the Patwari Office, Kanungo and Sadar Kanungo respectively.
1. The database maintained is not effectively used for policy decisions for further analysis and policy planning.
2. Data at Tehsil and district level is not up to date and data has to be called from the field whenever required.
3. Changes in ownership over a period of time are not easily traceable back without consultation of numerous records.
4. Manual compilation/tallying of records is time consuming and cumbersome besides legibility of the record. The record prepared is very different from the ways and procedures mentioned in the various manuals.
5. The importance of land administration has become very customary with complete disregard to the present day requirements.
6. Though in the manual system, the record is kept for previous years, but tracing any information out of it is a very cumbersome and painful.
7. Enforcement of various Acts & Orders passed by the Government is not possible to be effectively monitored.
8. Virtual Monopoly of Patwaries over the land records as records are not open to the general public.
9. Normally it is seen that Patwari are not monitoring the government land and any encroachments were observed to be the result of this laxity.
10. Many a times farmers faced harassment and extortion for not only provision of land records to them by the village officials but also for processing requests for change in land title not to mention the delays in the services to be provided.
11. Though on many occasions delay in delivery of records was unintentional but many times such delays were intentional. On the pretext of manning more than 4-5 villages, many a times the situation was exploited by many scrupulous
Patwaries to their benefits. Therefore besides, no certainty about timely availability of such records when a farmer required them, money is observed to be transferred for giving the copies of record.
12. No linkage of Land Records and registration of property and thereby leading to more litigation.
13. It is not possible to extract the lands owned by a particular owner across the Tehsil or district. This is required to for the purpose of Land Reforms for assignment of surplus land to Land less poor.
14. It is extremely difficult for the Revenue Department to cull out data and perform analysis for decision making on the land records due to the large volume of data.
15. Land records contain various useful data like soil, irrigation, cropping pattern etc. All such data is very valuable for various administrative purposes. As data is manually maintained, it is not possible to collate and analyze such data in meaningful way.
16. Courts often require various land records for disposing land based civil litigations. Records are not forth coming easily and in time, resulting delay in disposal of cases.
17. The Patwari is struggling to write a new Jamabandi after amalgamating the changes from the mutation register, old Jamabandi, Khasra Girdawari involving tedious calculation of shares and generation of Pedigree Table. In cases even when no change took place, whole Jamabandi is to be rewritten. Approximate time involved to write an average Jamabandi was around 3-6 months.
18. Non-standardized form of writing Jamabandi. If there are 3000 Patwaries in state then there are 3001 ways of writing Jamabandi including the one prescribed by the Land Record manual.
19. Records being handwritten sometimes were not legible by anyone else except the concerned Patwari who had written it.
20. Difficulty in uniform and standardized enforcement of office orders / notifications.
21. Various Instances of Government land being illegally transferred in names of influential persons had come to the notice due to connivance of Patwari with influential people of the area.
22. Problems in getting timely data by the peer department and hence problems in making right policy decisions.
Attrition in Land Records Administration
Though some of the drawbacks are system generated but many problems which have crept into the system are man-made and still many for not keeping up the pace with new requirements, technologies etc. The revenue functionaries have become burdened as record has multiplied besides the host of other regulatory and developmental work which is assigned to them from time to time. Following specific reasons are there in the deterioration in the land administration:
1. In the post-independence period, neglect of land administration has continued for several reasons. First, the share of land revenue in the overall state revenues kept on declining thus reducing any incentive the state had to keep records up to date. With decline in the importance of land revenue for state income, maintenance of land records too lost its significance both amongst administrators and politicians causing tremendous harm to rural communities.
2. The staff looking to land administration was allotted other multifarious duties administrative, regulatory and developmental such as conduct of general elections, issue of various certificates, implementing and monitoring development schemes, and providing relief in natural calamities.
3. New programmes were taken up in land administration, such as implementation of tenancy laws, and distribution of ceiling surplus land and house-sites to the poor, which diverted attention of the staff from the routine but vital function of maintaining land records. Village common lands have also suffered similar disregard, leading to encroachments.
4. Revenue department has been put in the non-plan category; no new plan activity was undertaken with state government funds to modernize the department.
5. There has been general deterioration in discipline, supervision and governance, affecting all departments.
6. In actual practice there is no administrative or political pressure on a Tehsildar to correct land records or dispose off court cases in time. A long pendency of cases in fact suits the local lawyers, who are politically powerful, and can get the Tehsildar into trouble, if he believes in quick disposal of cases. Lawyers also benefit from chaotic land records, as that gets them more clients. It is unfortunate that the system has developed perverse incentives. Poor governance and distortion in priorities, rather than technical capacity, is the main factor in deteriorating land administration. Lack of accountability has provided opportunities for unauthorized changes to land records. This leads to litigation which is expensive and time consuming.
7. It is observed that wherever the survey has been sanctioned, the staff does not join in time or does not work, so much so that it is not uncommon to find Tehsils where survey process has been going on for more than 10-30 years without any tangible output. The field staff has become insensitive and lax, whereas the survey skills have become scarce. Of course, on paper the maintenance of the land record is to be done in the same time-tested manner as was done in the age of Todarmal five centuries ago but actually it is not. While it was possible to keep all this going with the sheer weight of the state behind this activity, the gradual erosion in discipline and work-culture has meant that the focus on speedy and satisfactory completion of survey has blurred. The result is that changes in the land-ownership position are not reflected in the maps and records at all.
8. Land Mafias, political pressure and also the ulterior motives have led to the deterioration in the maintenance of land records.