The Central Administration of the East India Company, 1773-1834

By B. B. Misra | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
THE SETTLEMENT AND COLLECTION OF REVENUE

WE have examined in the previous chapter the administrative structure of the revenue department which developed for the most part under the influence and on the model of indigenous institutions. Here, we shall deal with some of the important problems arising from the settlement and collection of land revenue.


THE FIRST PHASE OF THE DIWANI, 1765-72

On the acquisition of the diwani in 1765 the settlement of revenue was made annually at a festival called puniya,1 which was held at the headquarters of every district, in the month of May for Bengal and September for the province of Bihar. In making the annual settlement a preference was usually shown to the zamindars who had acquired a right to property either through inheritance or prescription.2 This preference also extended to another class of proprietors called talukdars who held their lands either directly from the sovereign or from a zamindar. The amount of their rent was fixed and as a mark of favour was usually moderate. The talukdars in fact enjoyed a fixity of tenure which the zamindars did not, because of variations in their assessment from year to year.

On the refusal of a zamindar to accept the terms of settlement an officer called amil was usually appointed to superintend the collections in their joint name. He employed a number of native collectors known as tahsildars. The settlement of the districts, where there were no zamindars, was made with contractors or farmers of revenue for the best rent which could be procured. Once the general assessment was over, the several zamindars, talukdars, farmers and others

____________________
1
It was a state ceremonial of commencing the annual settlement and collection.
2
Hunter classifies the zamindars into three grades: (1) The old Hindu and Muslim rajas before the conquest of Bengal by Akbar in 1576; (2) the landholders who became de facto rulers of their estates in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries enjoying high social position on the basis of custom, and (3) the inferior zamindars who held the office of revenue collectors for a generation or two, and later developed a prescriptive right to the lands of which they had been revenue collectors. These formed the bulk of the class of zamindars. See Beng. MSS. Records, i, p. 31.

-171-

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The Central Administration of the East India Company, 1773-1834
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Foreword v
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter I- The Supreme Government 17
  • Chapter II- The Central Secretariat 64
  • Chapter III- The Administration of Revenue 108
  • Chapter IV- The Settlement and Collection of Revenue 171
  • Chapter V- The Administration of Civil Justice 220
  • Chapter VI- The Administration of Criminal Justice and Police 298
  • Chapter VII- The Civil Service 378
  • Appendix Postal Communications 415
  • Bibliography 451
  • Index 460
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