Decided on October 22,1970



- (1.) WHAT is the effect of enfranchisement of what is known as the Pudukottai Inams on the tenure as such? That is the common question in these petitions to quash the notification of the State Government in G. O. Ms. No. 1612 Revenue dated 245-1965 designating a number of inam villages specified therein as New Inam Estate under Section 2 (9) of the Madras Inam Estates (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Act, 1963 (Madras Act XXVI of 1963 ). The notification was issued in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 1 (4) of the Act. It appointed the Ist july 1965 as the date on which the provisions of the Act, other than the sections which had already come into force, should come into force in the Pudukottai Inam estates specified in column (3) of the Schedule to the notification. Nanjur alias namanarayasamudram, an Inam village is one of the items in the schedule. the petitioners in W. P. 604 of 1967, which is taken as typical of the others, claims to own absolutely and to be in exclusive possession of about 12 acres of freehold tenure lands, as he calls them,, (wet and dry) in the village of Nanjur, in erstwhile pudukottai State. He, as he says, purchased the lands for consideration from his predecessor-in title by a same deed in July 1942. It appears that this village was granted as " sarvamanyam" by Vijayaranga Sokkanatha Ramasamy Thondaiman, the then ruler of Pudukottai, to several Brahmins for subsistence, and it is a whole village grant with the boundaries demarcated with "vamana Muthirai" stones to separate it from the surrounding Jaghir and ayan villages. Following the pattern in Madras, the was in 1898 the Inam settlement by the Ex-Durbar of Pudukottai. At that time the inam lands were found to be enjoyed by 50 shares. One of the shares had been endowed for the maintenance of Viswanathaswami Visalakshmiamman temple at Nanjur and was recognised as a Devadayam minor inam under a title deed issued to that effect. The remaining shares were enfranchised. The petitioners on the one hand, and the State on the other, differ on the effect of the enfranchisement on the tenure of the lands after settlement, the former asserting that the previous restricted inam tenure was converted by the enfranchisement into freehold tenure, and the inam character was abolished so that the lands were treated as freehold. They say, therefore, that the provision of Madras Act 26 of 1963 could not be applied to the enfranchised villages. The State would, however contend that although the lands were converted from their previous restricted inam tenure into a freehold inam tenure, the tenure of the village as an inam was never converted into ryotwari by the Ex-Durbar of pudukottai, and that as a matter of fact, the act of enfranchisement did not, and was not, intended to charge the tenure of the lands at all. It is also pointed out that although one of the Standing Orders of the Ex-Durbar provided option for the inamdars of enfranchised inams for relinquishing the inam tenure and accepting instead a ryotwari tenure with taram, assessment, none of the petitioners opted for the change, and they continued to pay only quit-rent. On a careful consideration of the history of the inams, their incidence, the purpose and scope of the enfranchisement, and the settlement of inams both in Madras as well as in the erstwhile Pudukottai State on the last century, and the character incidence and of the holdings confirmed and continued after the inam settlement we are of the view that enfranchisement of the inams in question has not changed the tenure as such.
(2.) INAM is a familiar concept in the land tenure of our country. The name was given by the Mohamedan rulers, and before them, it was in this part of the country known as "manyam". Its essential meaning is, a gift by the kudivaram and melwaram in it, or where the land is already owned by the done, of the melwaram either in whole or in part. The motive of the gift usually was the belief of religious merit among Hindus of the grant of lands to "sacerdotal class". But in later days inam came to be granted for numerous purposes to individuals, specified families, and even communities. In their origin, they were the subject of Royal grants, and when the native dynasties were overthrown, irregular alienation's byway of inams came to be made by inferior authorities as well more particularly in lieu of, or in consideration of part of future services to be rendered. Generally the Mohamedan rulers accepted the status quo ante, and it had not disturbed the state of existing things. During the struggle for power between the English and the French, and in the wake of political confusion occasioned by it, further opportunity presented itself for more irregularities granted in the latter half of the Seventeenth Century. During the early British days, there was also a kind of a system of rewarding meritorious service by alienating Government revenue,, either in perpetuity or for a stated number of lives which continued to be in force until 1802 when the permanent settlement was introduced. Baden Powel's Land System of British India describes 'inam' as another class of tenures in the State Revenue Administration and that is when the Ruler either excuses an existing landholder from paying his revenue either wholly or in part or ' alienates' or assigns the revenue of a certain estate o tract of a country in favour of some chief, or other person of importance, or to serve as a recompense for services to be rendered. Baden Powel further pointed out that the grants were carefully regulated and that they were for life only, strictly kept to their purpose and to the amount fixed. But as time went on, the ruler, finding his treasury empty, made such grants to avoid the difficulty of finding a cash salary so that some of the grants became permanent and hereditary. He also observe that such inam were issued by officials to where had no right to make them, and that as a result, the inams involving number if landlord tenures and other curious rights gradually became a burden to after times and presented a most trouble some legacy to the Government when it found the revenues eaten up by grantees whose titles were invalid and whose pretensions, though grown old in times of disorder, were inadmissible. Maclean on Administration of Madras Presidency (Vol. III glossary at page 352) referring to the inams as a general gift from a superior to an inferior said:-- "so a grant of land for religious or charitable purpose made by government sometimes give force, sometimes with light quit-rent or jody. Same as Manyam. Technically a major inam is a whole village or more than one village and a minor inam is something less than a village". In the Law Lexicon by Ramanatha Iyer, the term "inam' has been defined as: "a gift, a benefaction in general, a gift by a superior to an inferior. In india, and especially in the south, and amongst the Marathas, the term was especially applied to grants of land held rent-fee, and in hereditary and perpetual occupation the tenure cam in time to be qualified by the reservation of the portion of the accessible revenue, or by the exaction of al proceeds exceeding the intended value of the original assignment; the terms was also vaguely applied to grants of rent-fee land, without preference perpetuity or on specified conditions. The grants are also distinguishable by their origin from the ruling authorities, or from the village communities and are again distinguishable by peculiar reservations, or by their being applicable to different object. " In Lakshamana v. Venkateswarlu, ILR (1950) Mad 567 = (AIR 1949 PC 278), the judicial committee observed: "inams in the Presidency of Madras are of two kinds, first those where the proprietary right in the soil and the right to the Government share of the revenue derivable from land coalesce in the same individual, and secondly, those where the proprietary or occupancy right is vested in one or more individuals, whilst the Government share of the revenue has been granted to another. . . . . An inam holding may be of a field only, or village, or a tract of several villages. . . . . Grants consisting of whole village or more than one village are technically called major inams to distinguish them from minor inams which are grants of something less than a village. " Sir Charles Trevelyan, in one of his communications to the Government in 1859 stated that the Madras tax-free tenures were known by the general name of inam, the enormous sacrifice of State revenue on account of the inams attracted the early attention of the court of Directors during the company rule of British India, and from time to time steps were taken to settle the titles under which the inams were held. the earlier policy of the court of Directors was stringent, but it was liberalised later. By Regulation XXXI of 1802 provision was made for the purpose of trying the validity of the titles of person holding or claiming to hold lands exempted from the payment of revenue, under grants not being Badshahi, or royal Grants. The Collectors were to require a general registration of inams, and were to institute suits in the courts of Justice for the payment of the land tax in those cases in which it had been improperly withheld. Also it was provided that it should not be competent for persons holding excepted lands under invalid titles to plead possession for any length of time whatever as a bar to the right of government to resume such lands, By Regulations IV and VI of 1831, XXXI of 1836, and XXIII of 1838, all claims to personal and hereditary grants, and all claims to service inams were removed from the jurisdiction of the court to that of the Collectors and Board of Revenue. In April 1845, the continuance of inams to the successors of deceased incumbents was prohibited, without the express authority of the Government, Equality of taxation and of its burden would appear to have prompted the court of Directors to pursue this hard line, It was said that to exempted one class of persons from taxation necessarily increased the burden on other classes, and diminished the power of the Government to execute public works, and make administrative improvements in which the country was interested. But then a different view point came to prevail in later stages, according to which, however desirable equality of taxation might be, there were other things which were more essential to society, one of which was justice, and another was the institution of property
(3.) IN this context Sir Charles Trevelyan in one of this dispatches in 1859 stated:--"our ancestors had to deal with a similar state of things. At the time of the Norman Conquest the Feudal system was adopted in England and it became a fundamental maxim of our English tenures, that the King is the universal Lord and original proprietor of all the lands in his Kingdom, and that no man doth or can possess any part of it, but what has mediately or immediately been derived as a gift from him, to behalf upon Feudal service'. This system became the cause of cruel oppression; and after any partial remedies had been tried, military tenures were finally abolished by the lands of England became from that time held of the King in free and common socage, which is equivalent to free hold. . . . . . . . . In like manner, it was an ancient maxim of English law, that no negligence or delay barred the King's right. . . . . . . . 'nullum tempus occurrit Regi. ' In other words, the Crown had at common law the power, on an information of intrusion to compel the defendant to show his title specially, notwithstanding the defendant and his predecessors in the estate might have held the lands without dispute of question for centuries. This was a source of grievous oppression to the subject; and, by the Statute 21st of James I, Chap. 14, some relief was afforded; which was completed in the beginning of the Reign of King George III, when, by the Act 9 Geo. III, Chap. 16. the King was estopped from seeking to recover lands from a subject after the lapse of 60 years, unless the King had been in the receipt of the rents with in that time, or the lands had been in charge, or stood insuper of record. ";

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