Malabar Manual Vol 1 CHAPTER IV. THE LAND
Section (A). Land Tenures
NB: The author puts forward the views contained in this section as those which he has adopted after an attentive study of the sources of information at present available on the subject of the Malabar Land Tenures. These views are not to be taken as an authoritative exposition of this most difficult subject, which requires further study and a more detailed elucidation than the author has been able to give to it. The Glossary in Volume 11 contains the information gathered by Special Commissioner Mr. Grœme in the years 1818-21.
The unit of the Hindu social system was the family, not the individual. An association of families formed a body corporate, as, for example, the gramam (village) among the Brahmans, the tara (foundation, street, village) among the Nayars, the cheri (assemblage, village, street) among the Tiyar (Cingalese, Islanders) and other foreigners.
These guilds or corporate bodies had each distinct functions1 to perform in the body politic, and those functions were in old times strictly hereditary.
In their administration of the land the Hindus seem to have made no exception to the rule governing their social organisation. The chief agricultural class appears to have been the Vellalar2 the water rulers, that is, the irrigators. To them was given the duty3 (Karanmei or karayma) of regulating the distribution of water for the irrigation of the paddy or rice holds. The Tiyar or Islanders who, it is said, came from the south (Ceylon), bringing with them the southern tree, that is, the cocoanut (Tengnga or Tengnga4 or Tengayi), were appointed the planters of the body politic. These two guilds seems to have formed the bulk of the agricultural population, as indeed they do down to the present day if the Nayars, who have been classed5 as belonging to the protector and governing classes, be relegated to the agricultural class to which they appear to have originally6 belonged, and to which as matter of fact they belong at the present time.
NOTEs: 1. Conf. p. 112.
2. From Vellum — water, and the verb aluka = to rule, possess, have.
3. Conf. pp. 110—12. So common became the use of this word and its derivatives that karalar came to signify in time husbandmen, or ploughmen,
4. From Tekku = south and kay - fruit.
5. Page 114.
6. The tradition is strong that Kerala was conquered by Chola and Pandya Vellalars. END OF NOTEs
Why the Nayars have been classed in the protecting or governing class has already been explained.1 The Nayars were, as the Keralolpatti2 expressly says, the people of “the eye,” “the hand,” and “the order,” and it was their duty “to prevent the rights from being curtailed or suffered to fall into disuse.”
NOTEs: 1. Pages 111, 112, 114 and 116.
2. Conf. p. 132, 133. END OF NOTEs
So that they had as a guild higher functions in the body politic than merely ploughing the rice-fields and controlling the irrigated lands.
What these higher functions were has already also been more than once alluded to. They were probably the holders of the “sharing-staff”3 of office and they were also supervisors (kanakkar) and as kanam or the supervision right is the name4 applied to one of the commonest tenures at the present clay, it is essential to a proper understanding of Malayali land tenures that the original idea attached to the word kanam should be thoroughly understood.
NOTEs: 3. Varakol—Deed 3, Appendix XII.
4. This is however only a very modern use of the name. The proper name for the tenure given correctly in Mr. Graeme’s Glossary (Appendix XIII), namely, Pattola, or Pattamala. The Kanakkaran was in fact, as assorted in these pages, the person responsible to the ruling authority the (pad) for the ancient land revenue assessment (pattam). This modern use of the word kanam as applied to the tenure has tended not a little to obscure the facts—see foot-note No. 1, to Deed 57, Appendix XII. END OF NOTEs
It is unfortunate, under such circumstances, that so little evidence of the early use of this word is as yet forthcoming. It occurs twice in deed No. 3 and once in deed No. 4, Appendix XJI. In the two first instances Dr. Gundert has translated it as “right” and in the last as “possession” or (with some hesitation) as “mortgage.”
In considering its meaning it is well to notice in the first place that the word itself – kanam - comes from the Dravidian verb kanuku (=to see, or to be seen), and the root from which that verb is derived is kan (= the eye). Now to the Nayars as a caste belonged the duty of supervision (literally, “the eye”) as the Keralolpatti expressly says, so that kanam in its original sense seems to have denoted this function of theirs in the body politic. And there can be little doubt that it is in this sense and not as either “possession” or “mortgage” that it is to be understood in deed No. 4, Appendix XII.
The phrase in which it there occurs runs as follows: - “The purchase of this domain of the Padarar with all that belongs to it has been then made by the Ruler of Cheranadu and his Officers, and the image of the God of the Padarar with their sovereignty has been subjected to the Six Hundred, and is kanam held under the king.” The Six Hundred were the heads of the Nayar militia of the nad, the karnavar (elders or managers) of the families of authority — Taravads5—in the taras (Nayar villages) constituting the nad (county).
NOTEs: 5. From Tara (= Nayar village) and padu (= authority). END OF NOTEs
The Nayar guild were in short constituted the supervisors (kanakkarar) of this domain purchased from the Padarar.
But what was this supervision duty or right (kanam) ? Clause (i) of deed No. 3, Appendix XII, proves conclusively that the Kon (shepherd, King) and the Pati (Lord, Master) had shares of the produce due to them as the persons of authority in the land. And the specific words used in the ninth century A.D. to denote these shares have probably survived to the present day, and are still in common use in a contracted form as pattam. For pattam seems to be a compound word signifying the padu (=authority’s) varam (= share) and it was perhaps used in its uncontracted form in this clause of deed 3.
The exact words of the clause will be found printed in the appendix. To make the matter clear, the translation is here given:—“that Anjuvannam1 and Manigramam2 protect the citizens in every coming generation, that in the space within the four gates and on the spot where land for sale3 (or “under prohibition”3) is given in trust4 the Palace (or supreme Government) having received the King’s tithe, Anjuvannam5 and Manigramma6 receive the Lord’s title.”
NOTEs: 1. The Jews as a body corporate.
2. The Christians as a body corporate.
3. This is Dr. Gundert’s translation, but as suggested in the foot-note to the clause an alternative reading is “for cultivation."
4. Karanmei = Karayma. The use of this word signifies very clearly that the land was given in trust to the appointed workers or functionaries in the body politic. Conf. foot-note 3, p. 596.
5. The Jews as a body Corporate.
6. The Christians as a body Corporate. END OF NOTEs
In respect to the lands referred to in this deed it is clear that the Jews and Christians in their corporate capacities had conferred on them the chief function in the State usually performed by the Six Hundred Nayars, viz., Protection. Indeed, as will be seen from clause (x), they were specifically associated with the local Six Hundred in that function. It is peculiarly significant therefore that to them also should have been assigned the Pati (- Lord’s) tithe or share of produce.
For it follows that this share of produce did ordinarily at that time go either to the Six Hundred or to the Patis (Lords) of the Six Hundred. In fact the other function appertaining to the Six Hundred, namely, kanam (- supervision), appears to have been the function of giving the land in trust to the proper workers in the body politic and of gathering from them in due course the shares of produce due to the persons in authority.
The Nayars were no doubt spread over the whole face of the country (as they still are) protecting all rights, suffering none to fall into disuse, and at the same time supervising the cultivation of the land and collecting the kon or king’s share of the produce - the public land revenue in fact.
If this reasoning be accepted it brings the Malayali land tenures very appreciably nearer to those prevailing in the rest of India, for it has, up to very recent years, been a matter of accepted belief with the British authorities that, prior to the advent of the Mysorean Mussulmans, there was no public land revenue in Malabar.
The Honourable the Court of Directors were, and with good show of reason, very sceptical1 on the point. The above facts seem to afford the clue to all the confusion of ideas which has prevailed. There was a public land revenue in Malabar originally, just as in every other Indian province, but with the extinction of the supreme kon or king in the ninth century A.D. the share of produce due to him did not pass to those (the present Rajas) who supplied in some measures his place, but to the great bulk of the people—the Nayars, the Six Hundreds — with whom, in their corporate capacities all power rested.
NOTEs: 1. Para. 246 of Section (B) of this chapter. END OF NOTEs
In order to understand the Malayali land tenures aright it is therefore first of all necessary to realise THE FUNDAMENTAL IDEA that certain castes or classes in the state were told off to the work of cultivation, and the land was made over to them in trust for that purpose, and in trust that the shares of produce due to the persons in authority should be faithfully surrendered.
The next most important point to keep in remembrance in regard to Malayali tenures is the fact that from the earliest times (about 700 A.D). the date of deed No. 1, Appendix XII) grants of land by the ruling power were customary, and what those grants conveyed requires to be examined attentively. In the first place the grants were of a hereditary character.
This is fully borne out by the earliest deeds (Nos. 1, 2 and 3, Appendix XII). The distinctive phrase used was peru. It occurs in various combinations. Viduper, Atmiperu, Attipettola, 2 Perumartham, Epperpettatu, etc. Peru itself is the verbal noun of the verb peruka (= to bring forth), and it means birth.
NOTEs: 2. Peru inflected becomes perru, the two rr shaving the force of tt. END OF NOTEs
The word has fallen into disuse of recent years, and it has been supplanted by its Sanskrit equivalent janmam, which, coming from the root jan, also signifies birth. Both words when applied in speaking of land tenures conveyed the idea of hereditary grants.
In the next place these grants have almost invariably been made with water3. The earliest exception to this rule is, curiously enough, the earliest deed of all, the Jews’ deed (No. 1). It has already been remarked4 that the Vedic Brahman factions were not cited as witnesses to this deed, although only a few years later they were witnesses to the Christians’ deed (No. 2, Appendix XII).
NOTEs: 3. Conf. pp. 221, 269.
4. Page 271. END OF NOTEs
In deeds Nos. 35 and 38, Appendix XII, two other exceptions to this rule occur; moreover it has already also been said5 that the Vedic Brahmans in their passage southwards spread abroad their influence chiefly by claiming for themselves the gift of being able to compel the gods to do their will by reason of sacrifices conducted in sonorous Sanskrit, and in particular they claimed the power to secure benefits in the next world for their devotees by ensuring for them and their deceased ancestors an easy passage into the Heaven of lndra.
NOTEs: 5. Page 260. END OF NOTEs
The deeds of the various dynasties there cited afford the most conclusive proof that in the grants of land conferred on the Brahmans in return for their services the act of giving is almost invariably accompanied or preceded by “libations of water,”1 by “pouring of water,” by copious libations of water,” “with water in hand,” with the pouring of “water out of a beautiful golden water-pot,” etc.
In twenty-five of these deeds casually observed and extending from about the fifth century A.D. down to the year 1339-40 A.D. the omission to mention a libation of water as accompanying a grant of land to these Vedic Brahmans occurs only once. In that solitary instance however—a deed of the Rashtrakuta king Karka III in A.D. 972—73—the grant is as usual made “in order to increase the religious merit and the fame of (my) parents and of myself.”
Several preceding Rashtrakuta grants contain the phrase, so that the instance in question seems merely to be the exception proving the rule. It is hard to resist the conclusions therefore that, as the notes to deeds Nos. 2 and 38 set forth, the customary libation1 of water in making a hereditary grant of land in Malabar was introduced by the Vedic Brahmans about the beginning of the eighth century A.D., and that in parts of the district, where the influence of that caste was but small, this incident in a grant or sale of hereditary land did not obtain currency down to quite recent years.
NOTEs: 1. A water grant or deed was called in parts of the country, where the Brahman influence preponderated, "Nir-atti-peru” = Water-contact-birthright. In some of the deeds to be found in Appendix XII there is a curious extravagance of phraseology, as if the parties had laboured to find phrases to put the fact that they were water grants beyond the possibility of a shadow of doubt. See deeds 15, 18, 27, 30, 33, 37, 39, 40, 41, 43, 44, 45, 46 and in particular 47, whereas in the Chirakkal Taluk, where the Brahman influence was small, the phrase is simply “Deed of price or sale". END OF NOTEs
In regard to the next, and perhaps the most important point of all, the sharing of the produce in these hereditary holdings, much has already2 been said. And it is needless to say more here than that all the State functionaries employed had well-defined shares of the produce set apart for them. The Kon, or king, had his share. The pati or overlord (the hereditary grantee apparently if there chanced to be one) had likewise a share.
NOTEs: 2. Conf. pp. 110—112, 269, 270. END OF NOTEs
And if there was no such pati or hereditary grantee then it seems his share went to the general body of protectors and supervisors—the “Six Hundred,” the Nayar guild, the Kanakkar.
But when the reign of the Perumals came suddenly to an end in 825 A.D. in the manner indicated in the historical chapter, their (the Kon's) share of the produce was, in Malabar at least, certainly not passed on to the chieftains who in some measure supplied the Perumals’ place.
It was probably different in Cochin—the territory left to and still ruled by the last Perumal’s heirs—and in that territory the mupra1 (the 3 paras2 per 10 paras of produce in wet lands) and the Ettukkonnu1 (the 1 in 8 of produce in gardens) do probably still represent what was the Kon's share, or in other words the public land revenue of the State. This holds true also of the Cochin territory usurped by the Travancore Maharajas in the eighteenth century A.D. and perhaps also of their other territories further south.
NOTEs: 1. See footnote to deed No. 42, Appendix XII, find these words in Appendix XIII.
2. Bushels. END OF NOTEs
But in Malabar it seems to have been very different, and the fact that there was no public land revenue originally in Malabar has been accepted until very recent years as correct. It is certain that, with two trifling exceptions which are fully explained in the next section, none of the Malayali chieftains were levying a regular land revenue when the Muhammadan invasion occurred in 1766 A.D.
As the Court of Directors pointed3 out, these chieftains certainty had revenues from their demesne lands, but from the lands of the bulk of those subject to them they certainly levied nothing. The chieftains were hereditary holders (Janmis) of the lands from which they derived a share of the produce and on the other hand the bulk of their subjects— the headmen of the Nayar protector guild—had likewise become hereditary holders (janmis) of their own lands by usurping the Kon's share of the produce. This is the only explanation which accounts for the state of the facts at the time of the conquest of Malabar, and moreover it is a very natural explanation.
NOTEs: 3. Para. 246 of Section (B) of this chapter. END OF NOTEs
The hereditary holders (janmis) had originally, as already seen4, obtained their grants of land with many and formidable formalities. Those formalities lingered still in some respects, and it was usual down to recent times at a sale or gift of hereditary lands to summon the neighbours and others as witnesses to the deed.
NOTEs: 4. Conf. p. 268. END OF NOTEs
The conveyance of the property, under such circumstances, conferred on the buyer in Malabar the hereditary position which was sold, but in Travancore, on the other hand, the conveyance of hereditary property at once broke the allodial character of the holding, and liability to pay land revenue (Mupra and Etlukkonnu) seems to have at once attached to the holding if the strictly hereditary lien was broken. The Janmis transferee in short becomes an ordinary ryot in Travancore on purchasing the Janmum right.
It is unnecessary to say that under these circumstances sales very rarely take place.
In this respect the difference between the usages observed in the two countries was probably due to the fact that the Travancore chiefs were stronger in their own dominions than the Malabar chieftains were. They were able to insist on conditions which the Malayali chieftains were powerless to enforce.
The Travancore chiefs had a standing army drilled by a European—the Fleming, Eustachius D’Lanoy—which made them, at least latterly,1 independent of the protector guild of Nayars. That they were strong enough to insist on such conditions as the above before the standing army was organised by D’Lanoy is extremely doubtful.
NOTEs: 1. First half of eighteenth century. END OF NOTEs
In Malabar the hereditary property (janmam) was freely bought and sold long before the Mysorean invasion took place. And it was this buying and selling, and in particular the wording of the deeds in which such transactions were recorded, that misled the early British administrators and caused them to form erroneous views on the general subject of the Malayali land tenures. A reference to the deeds printed in Appendix XII seems at the first glance to leave no doubt whatever as to the character of these hereditary holdings.
And it was unfortunately this superficial view which was adopted by the early British administrators, and which led to janmam being regarded as equivalent in all respects to the dominium of the Romans. The deed of sale in No. 15 conveyed to the purchaser:-
NOTEs: 2. The various things conveyed are sometimes strung together in a sort of alliterative rhyme thus :—
Veppum Cheppam = Hidden treasure and its receptacles.
Kallum Karadum — Stones good and bad.
Kanyira Kuttiyam ~ Stumps of Strychnos nux vomica.
Mullum Muradurn = Thorns and roots.
Murkkan Pambum = Stupid, bad, wicked snakes.
Melakasattolavam - Up to the Heavens.
Kilpatalottalavam ~ Down to the lower World.
3 Probably a mistake for karudu -= Bad stones.
4 Matta opperppettatum = Everything heritable. END OF NOTEs
Most of these details seem at first sight to place beyond all doubt the completeness of the rights the purchaser acquired in the soil according to Western notions. The things enumerated seem at first sight to have been named purposely to express, with exaggerated force, the completeness of the relinquishment of the seller's rights in the soil. But with these material objects it will be observed were conveyed such things as “authority in the Desam,” “Battle wager” and “Rank” and “Customs” which are clearly outside the idea of dominium as understood by Roman lawyers. It would have been well therefore if, before adopting the view that janmam was equivalent in all respects to dominium, a full investigation had been made of the points wherein they differ.
Passing to another characteristic deed (No. 9) it will be seen that in that case the objects conveyed were:-
(a) A Desam along with—
1. Authority in the Desam.
(b) A Temple along with—
2. The seat of honour at the temple feasts,
3. The management of the temple affairs,
4. The temple wet lands,
5. Do. gardens,
6. Do. slaves1, and
(c) A Tarawad (authority in the Nayar tara or village) along with —
7. The Tarawad wet lands,
8. Do. gardens,
9. Do. slaves,1
10. Do. house-sites.
NOTEs: 1. Cherumar. Conf. pp. 147-247. END OF NOTEs
Here the lands and gardens and house-sites are appurtenant to the Desam, Temple, and Tara authority conveyed.
The chief things conveyed were the different kinds of authority attaching to a Desam, a Temple and a Tara, and not merely the lands and slaves.
The idea of property in the soil—the Western or European idea — was evidently not the idea uppermost in the minds of the persons who executed this deed. They, on the contrary, concerned themselves chiefly with the “authority” constituting the main items conveyed.
The rest of the items were mere appurtenances to the “authority.” This seems to go to the root of the whole matter, and to differ essentially from the Western idea of ownership in the soil alone.
What in fact the Malayalis were buying and selling in this instance (deed No. 9) and also in the case of deed No. 15 was not the soil, but a position with emoluments (in Malayalam Sthanam Manam) conferring authority of different kinds, and of varying degrees over the classes resident within the limits specifically laid down in the deeds.
The European looks to the soil , and nothing but the soil. The Malayali on the contrary looks chiefly to the people located on the soil.
If however the fundamental idea of the Malayali land tenures referred to above (p. 599) is borne in mind, namely, that the land was made over in trust to certain classes for cultivation, the above will be seen to be a most natural outcome of the Hindu system.
And the surprising fact which has frequently been commented on that even the soil1 itself might drop away from the owner of a janmam holding and yet have him as completely as before the janmi of the whole of it, becomes under the above interpretation a perfectly natural —nay, a necessary—consequence.
NOTEs: 1. Conf. Perum artham, Attiperu, Janmam, Sthana-mana-avakasam, Otti, Ottikumpurameyulla kanam, Nirmutal, Janmapanyam in Appendix XIII. END OF NOTEs
This essential difference between a Roman dominus and a Malayali janmi was unfortunately not perceived or not, understood at the commencement of the British administration. The janmi has, by the action of the Civil Courts, been virtually converted into a dominus, and the result on the workers, the cultivators, has been, and is, very deplorable. While on the one hand therefore it is erroneous to suppose that the janmi was the dominus, it is equally inaccurate, on the other hand, to say of the kanakkar or supervisors that they were the real proprietors of the soil.
The Nayar protector guild was distributed over the length and breadth of the land exercising their State functions of “the eye,” “the hand,” and “the order,” and, as kanakkar, they collected the share of produce due to the janmi. But janmis were at times hard pressed for coin, and it became customary for them to borrow what money they wanted from the kanakkar.
In proportion to the sum borrowed the kanakkaran deducted from the pattam (i.e., the padu or authority’s varam or share) collected by him for the janmi a quantity of produce sufficient to meet the interest on the sum lent. The interest was calculated at certain customary2 rates, and the balance of produce alone went to the janmi.
NOTEs: See Palisa in Appendix XIII. END OF NOTEs
Sometimes the interest on the sum borrowed was sufficiently large to wipe out the whole of the janmi's share of produce. In that case the kanakkaran's interest in the land was styled an otti. It might be thought that a janmi having borrowed enough to wipe out by way of interest the whole value of his share of produce had but little proprietary right left in the land, but this was not so, for the obvious reason that, besides his share of the produce, he held authority of various kinds over the persons, located on his hereditary land, and it was customary to value this remaining right at one half of what had already been advanced to purchase the otti.
The deeds by which these further transactions were effected were : —
(a) the OttikkumPurameyullakanam, by which the janmi borrowed ten per cent or more on the sum received for the otti right ;
(b) the Nirmutal, by which the janmi borrowed another ten percent on the money already advanced for the otti and ottikkum puram rights. He pledged himself to confer the water (nir) right on his creditor ;
(c) the janmapanayan or pledge of the janmam right. Under this deed a still further advance was made on the sums borrowed, and there was but one step beyond this, and that was the conveyance outright of the janmam right itself.
The general effect of this system of borrowing was that the janmi first mortgaged up to its full value his own share of the produce, and, when that was no longer available for payment of the interest, he had to meet the interest out of his other resources as janmi. What he pledged was evidently not the soil itself but only his share of its produce so far as that went, and after that his other income and emoluments attaching to his status as janmi of the land.
But the Civil Courts, acting on the idea that the janmi was a dominus and as such entitled to take what he could get out of the land, viewed his pledges as pledges of the soil itself, and in this way they have almost completely upset the native system of customary sharing of the produce.
Under that system of customary sharing of the produce the kanakkaran’s advance to the janmi used to be periodically1 revised in one or other of two ways, namely : —
NOTEs: 1. These renewals originally do not seem to have taken place more frequently than at successions to the janmam and kanam holdings respectively. They appear to have been in fact succession duties. (Conf. Purushantaram in Appendix XLIL END OF NOTEs
(a) A deduction of about thirteen per cent, of the advance was made, and a renewed deed showing the loan diminished by this percentage was prepared, or
(b) no deduction was made, but instead of it the kanakkaran made to the janmi a payment equivalent to the customary deduction described in (a) and the renewed deed showed the full original sum advanced.
When (a) was the method adopted of revising the relations between the parties the portion, of the janmi’s share of the produce which had been pledged for the advance was of course released to the extent of thirteen per cent from the pledge and the kanakkaran had to account for that thirteen per cent, to the janmi.
When (b) was the method adopted, it is clear that the portion of the janmi's share of the produce which had been pledged for the advance remained still fully under pledge, and no portion of it was released.
The latter method (b) is that which has generally been adopted, and the periodical renewal fees—now however extravagantly enhanced, amounting in the most favourable cases to about twenty-five per cent, of the mortgage advance—form one of the regular2 sources of a janmi’s income.
NOTEs: 2. The renewals now take place after every twelve years. END OF NOTEs
The idea at the root of this system of renewals was that in due course of time the janmi’s customary share of the produce should be freed from the mortgage with mutual advantage both to the janmi and to the kanakkaran. If, on the other hand, it was to their mutual advantage to maintain the existing relations, the payment made in lieu of the customary deduction was of advantage to both of them.
The system was admirably conceived for binding the two classes together in harmonious interdependence. This excellent arrangement necessarily fell to pieces at once when the Civil Courts began to recognise the force of contract—the Western or European law— as superior to the force of custom—the Eastern or Indian law.
And this supersession of the unwritten native law was the final blow which ruined a system already endangered by the erroneous idea that a janmi was really a dominus. Under the native system when, after a series of renewals by the method (a) above described, the janmam holding had been freed from mortgage, the parties (janmi and kanakkaran) simply resumed their original stations.
The kanakkaran began to yield up again to the janmi the whole of the janmi’s customary share, as he had been in the habit of doing before the loan had been made, and remained on the holding in his capacity as supervisor (kanakkaran). But the Civil Courts viewing the janmi as a dominus, and the kanakkaran’s advance as a mortgage of the soil, began to hold under the law of contract that on full payment of the advance the kanakkaran was bound to yield up the soil itself.
This is the latest development of the law resting on the decisions of the Courts, and it is probably not of earlier date than about 1856 when the Sadr Adalat circular, which has been published in extracts in Appendix XIII, was sent to the Courts for criticism. Though that circular was never formally promulgated, there is no doubt that the decisions of the Courts in the last thirty years have generally followed the law therein laid down. Prior to 1856 or thereabouts, when a janmi wished to get rid of a kanakkaran he allowed the pattam to fall into arrears and then sued for the arrears and in execution sold the kanam interest.
To save all trouble and doubt the janmi frequently now embodies in his kanam deeds a clause expressly contracting that the soil shall be given up on demand. The tenure which comes next in order of importance to kanam and its connected tenures, otti, etc., is that known as kulikkanam. The agricultural workers in the State organisation not only cultivated the lands already reclaimed, but were constantly bringing fresh waste lands under cultivation. And kulikkanam was the term applied to the admirable system under which this was arranged.
The customary sharing of the produce of freshly reclaimed land took place (in the case of gardens at least) at the end of a certain number of years (usually not more than twelve years) from the time the land was taken up. Up to that time the cultivator enjoyed the whole of the produce, and all he had to pay was a trifling fee of two fanams (about nine annas) on entry on the soil, paid more as an act of fealty to the janmi than as recompense for the privilege of possession.
When the janmi—the padu or authority—wished to take his customary share of the produce (pattam) of the newly reclaimed land he had to buy it from the cultivator at the rates recognised as customary in such transactions. But the money thus due was seldom or never paid down in cash. It was allowed to remain as a debt bearing interest at customary rates, and that interest was made good from the janmi s customary share of the produce.
This sum, however, under the system (a) described in regard to renewals of kanam deeds, was in due course of time gradually wiped off, or under the system (b), also described above, the janmi might content himself with taking periodically the renewal fee. The renewal did not come round very frequently in former days ; the longer the janmi lived, and the longer the cultivator lived, so much the better it was for both of them, and when a succession did take place it was only thirteen percent of the debt that was wiped off, or an equivalent payment that was made.
This system—another necessary result of the Hindu social organisation— was evidently conceived in much wisdom for protecting the interests of the cultivating castes. Here again however ideas borrowed from the European law of property in the soil have come in to upset the well-conceived customary law of Malabar.
The courts have viewed the janmi' s payment of the customary improvement rates as payment in full to the cultivator for the improvements made by him in the soil, whereas there can be no doubt that the rates so established by custom were intended merely as compensation for the customary share of the produce—the pattam—due to the padu or janmi by reason of those improvements and as in no sense whatever compensation to the cultivator for his customary share of the net produce.
The leading principle however has very fortunately been preserved, and it is now the well-recognised practice of the courts that a tenant making improvements in the soil has to be paid for them if deprived of his holding, and the courts have even gone further than this and have awarded compensation for improvements even to a cultivator1 who had not taken the trouble to recognise any one as janmi before beginning his reclamation of the waste land.
NOTEs: 1. The courts view him as trespasser, but the original idea is that all cultivators are in duty bound to reclaim waste land, in Malabar and trespassers on waste land are unknown. END OF NOTEs
Under the native customary law the cultivator could not be ousted except by a decree of the tara2, for the janmi was powerless unless he acted in strict accordance with the Nayar guild whose function was “to prevent the rights from being curtailed or suffered to fall into disuse” as the Keralolpatti expressly says.
NOTEs: 2. The kanakkar used evidently to transfer themselves and the janmi's shares of the produce of the lands they supervised from one janmi to another as their interest or inclination dictated. And even down to the present day a kanakkaran considers it a perfectly legitimate manoeuvre on his part to transfer himself and the land to any janmi who, he thinks, is an abler man than the one under whom he holds. It is such a well-known device that it has now become the settled law of the courts that, a kanakkaran denying his janmi's title operates the forfeiture of his own. See Kanam in Appendix XIII END OF NOTEs
So that in fact the holders of the kanam and kulikkanam tenures were practically permanent1 tenants.
NOTEs: 1. Mr. Rickards, the second of the Principal Collectors of Malabar, entered Parliament after retiring from the service, and in a book published by him in 1832—(“India, or Facts submitted, &c.”—Smith, Elder & Co., London—Vol. II, page 279) he recognised the fact that they were practically permanent tenants. END OF NOTEs
This practical permanency of possession of their holdings coupled with the preservation and observance of the customs regulating the shares of produce among all concerned, naturally enough created proprietary rights in the soil, and those rights are, and always have been objects of free2 transfer by sale gift or mortgage. What was sold, given or mortgaged however was confined strictly to the interest of the person making the transfer.
NOTEs: 2. Conf, Inakkumuri in Appendix XIII. END OF NOTEs
That being so it is evident that the recognition by the courts of the janmi as dominus and the enforcement by them of contracts have wrongfully benefited the janmis and have deprived the others of the just rights.
These others were in effect CO-PROPRIETORS with the janmis and the action of the courts has virtually expropriated them.
On the 5th of February 1881 the Government of the late Mr Adam appointed Mr. W. Logan as Special Commissioner to inquire into and report on the general question of the tenure of land and of tenant-right in Malabar and the alleged insufficiently of compensation offered by the landlords and awarded for land improvements made by tenants. Mr. Logan visited, in the course of the inquiry, all the taluks in the district except Wynad ; he received petitions from 4,021 individuals , and on the 16th June 1882 submitted, for the orders of Government, the result of his investigation in a report of 112 pages, with two additional volumes of appendices, one of papers on various connected subjects and one of the evidence collected.
The foregoing is an abstract of the chief points treated in the report with "some slight revisions, and the following gives some further insight into the relations between the parties. For any further information the glossary published in Appendix XIII should be referred to, as it contains the earlier views of the British officers on the subject as well as the views of the Honourable the Judges of the Sadr Adalat in 1850 and references to many decisions of the courts in the time which has since elapsed.
When the Mysorean invasion occurred there was necessarily a disturbance of the customary sharing of produce which up to that time had prevailed. For the Mysorean Government of Hyder Ali and Tippu assessed the whole of the country with an ordinary Indian land revenue settlement. And this land revenue assessment had necessarily to be carved out of the customary shares of produce.
What the Mysoreans did1 was to take everywhere as land revenue a certain portion more or less of the pattam (i.e., of the padu or authority’s customary share of the produce). This portion encroached more or less on the customary shares of both kanakkaran and janrni (who seem to have generally divided the pattam equally2 between themselves) and to have left the customary share of the cultivator intact.
NOTEs: 1. For details see Section (13) of this chapter.
2. The influential Nayars who set themselves up as patis or overlords or janmis appear to have generally divided share and share alike the whole of the pattam between themselves and their subordinate kanakkar. END OF NOTEs
Stated in few words it may be said the Mysoreans took as Government land revenue a proportion of the pattum, varying, when taken in kind, from ten per cent, (on the wet lands in the Chera nad) to a hundred per cent, (on the garden lands in all South Malabar).
But the collection as land revenue of a hundred per cent, of the pattam simply meant the expropriation of the whole of the junmi's and kanakkaran's customary shares of the produce, and this was no doubt intended by the Muhammadans in all the localities where a hundred per cent, was the share taken of the pattam.
In practice, however, matters arranged themselves differently, and in consequence of the variations in the commutation rates used for converting the shares of produce taken as land revenue into a land revenue assessment payable in money a greater degree of quality in the assessments was obtained than would at first sight appear probable. For instance, the ten per cent of the pattam of wet lands taken in the Chera nad in produce was commuted at Rs. 260 per 1000 Macleod seers, while 50 per cent, of the pattam of wet lands in Kadattanad was commuted at only Rs. 40 per 1,000 Macleod seers. In reality then, other things being equal, the ten per cent, assessment in the Chera nad was really heavier, when taken, in money, than the fifty per cent, assessment in Kadattanad.
In the tables to be found in Sub-sections III and VII of Section (B) of this chapter the money rates imposed by the Muhammadans on the various classes of land in Malabar and those subsequently imposed by the British Government have been reduced to certain common standards of produce assessments, and the result may be roughly stated thus :
(a) Assuming that in 1805-6 the actual market prices of produce were the same as those which Special Commissioner Graeme thought to be fair averages in 1822, no earlier figures being available, then in 1805-6 the assessments (which were still practically those imposed by the Muhammadans) averaged in the case of —
1. Wet lands—about 863 per cent, of the pattam.
NOTEs: 3. Special Commissioner Graeme, working by different methods, found that these percentages came respectively to, wet lands fully 90 per cent, gardens over 62 percent. See also “'Modern Land Revenue” in Appendix XIII. END OF NOTEs
NOTEs: 1. Special Commissioner Graeme, working by different methods, found that those percentages came respectively to, wet lands fully 90 per cent gardens over 62 percent. See also “Modern Land Revenue" in Appendix XIII. END OF NOTEs
In many cases, however, and over large tracts of country the assessment, rates greatly exceeded these proportions, and swallowed up the whole of the pattam.
(b) Whereas now the assessments, owing to the enormous rise of late years in the prices of all kinds of produce, average no more than in the case of
The various kinds of pattam adopted for revenue purposes in different, parts of the district are fully explained in paragraphs 226, 226(a), 226(b), 227, 228, 290, 306 of Section (B) of this chapter.
The general result may be thus stated:
In some cases the pattam was at first wholly expropriated, and nearly everywhere the share taken of it as revenue was very large; whereas of late years, owing to the rise in prices, the share taken of it as land revenue has become very moderate.
The effect of this disturbance of the ancient system of customary sharing of the produce has next to be traced.
The Mysoreans made their land revenue settlements with the kanakarar. The reason of this was that the janmis— the Nambudiri Brahmans and petty chieftains of the Nayar caste—had fled from Malabar owing to the terror inspired by Hyder Ali’s and Tippu’s ferocious administrations, or if they remained in Malabar the same terror prevented them from ever trusting their persons at the Muhammadan cutcherries.
“When, therefore,” so wrote the Bengal and Bombay Joint Commissioners1 in 1793, “the system of establishing a general money rental, payable to these latter (the Mysorereans) was to be carried into execution, the local delegates of the Mysore Government had in general no other choice than to settle the assessment on each portion of territory with these kanoomar2 or kanumkar who, making some reservation3 out of the gross produce for a payment to their jenmkaars4 or landholders (which appears from Oodhut Roy’s examination, entered in the Voucher No. 4. to have been in proportion of three-twentieths), together with a further deduction of about eleven-twentieths5 for their own support and profits and for the charges of cultivation, agreed to pay the residue, being about six-twentieths,6 to Government.”
NOTEs: 1.For the settlement of Malabar on its cession by Tippu.
2. The Joint Commissioner's spoiling has been retained. The proper spelling is of course kanakkarar.
3. Special Commissioner Graeme’s inquiry in 1818-22 proved conclusively that no such special reservation was made, except in two instances to benefit the Muhammadan community. Paras. 147 and 192 of Section (B) of this chapter.
4. This is the Joint Commissioner's spelling. The proper spelling is janmakkarar or shortly janmi.
5. It is perhaps needless to say in the light of the facts stated in Section (B) of this chapter that these are fanciful figures likewise.
6. Styled elsewhere by the Commissioners the “cultivating farmer” or kanumkar i.e., kanakkaran. END OF NOTEs
There is no doubt whatever that Oodhut Roy, a Mysorean Mahratta Revenue officer, misled the Joint Commissioners. The latter, acquainted only with European ideas on the subject of property in the soil, naturally enough looked on the janmis as European landed proprietor and on the Kanakkarar as ‘‘cultivating farmers.”
Mr. Fanner, one of the Commissioners, made some inquiries, and that was the result he obtained. But he seems to have been correctly informed as to the ancient system of the customary sharing of the produce which, in the case of wet lands, was thus described to him :—
From the quantity of seed the produce was calculated according to the qualities of the soil. “Of this produce one-third was allowed to the farmer6 for his maintenance, profit, etc., one-third for the expenses of the Tiyars, Cherumars or other cultivators attached to the soil, one-third went as rent to the jelmkaar7 or landlord.”
NOTEs: 6. Styled elsewhere by the Commissioners the “cultivating farmer” or kanumkar i.e, kanakkaran .
7. Property janmakaran or janmi. END OF NOTEs
Understanding here by the word “produce” that net produce was meant,8 it will be seen that the parties interested in the soil divided the net produce among them share and share, alike.
NOTEs: 8. Conf. para. 228 of Section (B) of this chapter. END OF NOTEs
Again at an interview between Mr. Jonathan Duncan, President of the Joint Commission, and a number of influential Mappillas, the latter told Mr. Duncan that since Hyder's time the rights of the jenmkaars9 had been taken or absorbed by Government,” and consequently the Mappilla jenmkaars were at the time paying nothing to the janmis except what they gave them out of charity, and they specifically asserted that nothing had been reserved for the janmis in making the Mysorean land revenue settlement, and they denied that the janmis were “of right” entitled to anything.
NOTEs: 9. i.e. janmakare or janmis. END OF NOTEs
This was the beginning of the serious misunderstanding of the janmi’s true position in regard to the land, which has since, as already set forth in the beginning of this section, produced so much hardship to the classes beneath them.
For the Joint Commissioners viewed the Mappilla assertions as a claim on their part to the janmam right itself, whereas it is clear that what they really meant was that the janmis' authority and customary share of produce had been “absorbed” by the Government, not by themselves.
It was long a matter of wonder and surprise among the earlier British administrators that the Mappillas had been so easily satisfied when all the janmis fled to Travancore. It was thought that they could then have easily seized the janmam right itself, that is, as it was then thought, the absolute ownership of the soil according to European ideas.
What the Mappillas really did at this time was to advance small sums of money and to obtain deeds assigning to them large kanam rights.
Had janmam meant in those days dominium, as it does now, and had kanam meant a more lease liable to cancelment every twelfth year, as it does now, it may be shrewdly guessed that the Mappillas would not have made such indifferent bargains. But the fact was that a kanakkaran was as much the proprietor of the soil as the janmi himself was in former days.
They were in short, as already set forth, CO-PROPRIETORS bound together in interest by admirable laws of custom.
The Joint Commissioners however looked on the janmi as the “owner”1 of the soil, and on the kanakkaran as the owner’s lessee, and as such liable to be turned out of the lands “when the time they leased them for expires,” and on 28th October 1793 those views were embodied in a proclamation and promulgated throughout the district.
NOTEs: See No. LXVIII, Part II, of Mr. Logan’s “Collection of Treaties, etc., relating to British affairs in Malabar.”—Calicut, 1879. END OF NOTEs
From that date forward the land disputes and troubles began, and the views above described of the Joint Commissioners were not the only causes contributing to the anarchy which ensued.
The revenue management of the country was made over, on behalf of the Honourable Company, to the petty chiefs, who, freed by the irresistible power of the British Government from such ties as previously bound them, were only too eager to seize the opportunity of bettering themselves at the expense of those who had formerly been the mainstay of their power.
Writing of the chiefs of North Malabar — but the same thing held good for those in the South—the Joint Commissioners observed “they have (stimulated, perhaps, in some degree by the uncertainty as to their future situations) acted, in their avidity to amass ‘wealth, more as the scourgers and plunderers than as the protectors of their respective little States.”
From 1792 till 1802 the district was in a state of constant disturbance from rebellions and organised robberies, and in these the Mappillas took a conspicuous part.
In 1803 Major Macleod, the first of the Collectors of Malabar, attempted in the short space of forty days to revise the land revenue of the district, and he also at the same time raised the rates of exchange. The fabrication of accounts, the over-assessment of produce, the assessment of produce that did not exist, the assessments imposed on wrong people, and the rigid exaction of the revenue under those inequalities were sufficient of themselves to raise a rebellion, but when to this was added that the ryots found to their astonishment, after paying in their full assessment in fanams, they had not, owing to very ill-advised changes in exchange rate, paid enough, the whole country rose en masse.
Major Macleod, with a view to lessen the excitement, summarily resigned his charge into the hands of Mr. Rickards, the First Judge of the Provincial Court then located at Mahe. Mr. Rickards had been employed in the district for some years, and was well acquainted with the people. His first steps were to cancel the revised assessment and to restore the former rates of exchange, and finally.
He took an early opportunity of calling together the principal janmis of South Malabar to confer on the important question of fixing the Government share of the produce.
The result of the deliberations is stated in detail in paragraphs 226, 226(a), and 226(b) of Section (B) of this chapter, and the proclamation embodying the details will be found in Appendix XV.
The net produce was ascertained in the customary method—this net produce was then assigned to the parties interested in the manner following :
In regard to Miscellaneous Lands (Modan, Punam and Ellu) the sharing system generally adopted1 was
Three-fifths of the gross produce to the cultivator.
One-fifth do. do. Government.
One-fifth do. do. Janmi.
Even Mr. Rickards seems to have been misled as to what "not produce” really meant, for Special Commissioner Graeme, who made a very full inquiry into the subject afterwards (1818-22), found2 that there were besides customary shares of the produce deducted, at the time, for harvesting, threshing, etc., and for the carpenter, blacksmith, etc., amounting in all to about twenty percent, of the gross produce, which customary shares were, as a matter of course deducted from the gross produce, and did not form part of the gross produce distributed under the system adopted by Mr. Rickards in consultation with the janmis.
NOTEs: 1 Paras, 232, 254, 273, 277, 278 of Section (B) of this chapter.
Conf. Kolulabham in Appendix XIII. END OF NOTEs
The scheme also failed to provide for the kanakkaran's customary share. The kanakkar were not, it seems, consulted at all in the matter. They were, it will be seen from what has been said above, entitled to a customary share equal to that of the janmi. But, in this distribution scheme if the kanakkaran’s position ever came up at all in the discussion, it must have been passed by with the reflection that he was a mortgagee, an investor of his money—-which was to some extent true—and that he might be trusted to look after his own interests and investments.
The janmi was by this scheme finally and fully recognised as the lord of the soil after the European fashion.
This did not at the time matter very much to the kanakkar, because no immediate attempt was made to act upon the distribution scheme thus sanctioned, and indeed in many places the janmis were so heavily in debt1 to the kanakkar at this time and for years afterwards that they were unable to pay off their claims.
NOTEs: 1. Principal Collector Warden to the Board of Revenue, 12th September 1815, paragraph 12. END OF NOTEs
Even when Special Commissioner Graeme made his enquiry in 1818-22 the kanakkar were still in some places paying the janmis nothing (paragraph 551 of his report) and in other places were allowing the janmis only twenty per cent,2 of the balance left over of the pattam after defraying the Government assessment and the interest on the sums advanced by them (the kanakkar) to the janmis. (Graeme’s report, paragraphs 632, 732, 733, 734, 735, 802, 803.)
NOTEs: 2. In Ernad at least there seems to have been some agreement come to to this effect in 1790-91, and in 1818-22 Mr. Graeme mentions the facts that the courts were acting upon this custom in adjudging cases that arose. (Graeme’s report, paragraphs 732-35) Conf. Nikuti Sistam and Pattinnu randu in Appendix XIII. END OF NOTEs
For years, therefore, it was a matter of hardly any importance to the kanakkar on what principles the Government assessment had been fixed. They were virtually in full enjoyment of their rights. But about 1831-32 a most important change took place, for prices of produce began to rise.
Prices which were abnormally low just then rose in 1831-32 to about fifteen per cent, after the setting in of the rains. In the following year they again rose twelve per cent. Prices were again higher in 1833-34. Next year grain prices were a little lower, but garden produce more than maintained its position. The year following grain prices again fell, but garden produce prices were maintained. In 1836-37 grain quite recovered its position and garden produce fell considerably.
In 1837-38 grain prices were maintained, while garden produce fully recovered its previous good position. And so it went on. There occurred a marked all round rise in the five years 1852-53 to 1856-57, and a still more marked rise3 all round in the three following years 1857-58 to 1859-60.
NOTEs: 3. See para. 315 of Section (B) of this chapter. END OF NOTEs
Under such favourable circumstances the Government land revenue was of course, collected with great facility. This was first noticed in the year, 1832-33, and in 1833-34 the ease with which it was collected was still more noticeable. Since then the Collectors have had no difficulty in maintaining clean balance sheets.
But higher prices would enable the tenants to pay more to the janmi as well as to pay the Government demand with increasing ease, so a very material motive came into action straining the hitherto quiescent relations between the parties.
Unfortunately also, just before this rise in prices occurred, the parties interested in the soil had at last been brought face to face with, and enabled to realise, the innovations brought about in their relative positions by the British administration. This began in consequence of the inquiry set on foot by Special Commissioner Graeme in 1823 into “actual rents" as a basis for his scheme of fixing the Government assessment on wet lands.
Sir W. Robinsons graphic account of the measures adopted to this end, and of their utter failure [paragraphs 266-68 of Section (B) of this chapter] gives some insight into the burning jealousies and strife thus engendered. The country teemed with false deeds, the courts were crowded with litigants. Those heart-burnings and disputes had no time to subside, for in 1833 there was commenced another similar inquiry by the same agency, and this continued for no less than ten years or till 1843.
It must have been at this time that the parties interested began to realise the enormous changes wrought by European ideas of property in their relative positions, and it is a very significant and ominous fact pointing in this direction that on the 26th November 1830 - at a time when, looking at the high prices obtained for their produce, the cultivators one would have thought had every reason to be satisfied—there occurred the first of the Mappila1 outrages reported on by Special Commissioner Strange in 1852.
NOTEs: 1. Paras. 399-407 of his report. END OF NOTEs
From that time down to the 14th September 1857 thirty-eight such outrages or attempted outrages occurred, including among the number the one which, shortly after Mr. Strange’s special commission, resulted fatally to the Collector Mr. Conolly.
In reporting on those fanatical outrages Mr. Strange forcibly pointed2 out that by means of fanaticism “the power of the Mappilla caste and the prostration of those of the adverse persuasion have been much advanced, and out of this substantial benefits to the aggressive body have arisen.”
NOTEs: 2. Paras. 38-39 of his report. END OF NOTEs
And again, “the evil has become deep-rooted in the country, and being based not on simple delusion merely, but upon actual criminality and prospect of gain, it will not of itself expire” and he continued, “even the desire for plunder may prove a sufficient motive for the organisation of these outbreaks, some having already largely profited in this way”; and finally, “they will be more and more directed against the landed proprietors."
He found1 that in one instance the relatives of certain of the fanatics avowed “that it was a religious merit to kill landlords who might eject tenants,” and in Mr. Collett’s (the Special Assistant Magistrate's) report on the first of the Kulattur outrages (22nd August 1851) there occurs the following very significant passage :—
“The most perverted ideas on the doctrine of martyrdom, according to the Koran, universally prevail and are fostered among the lower classes of the Mappillas. The late inquiries have shown that there is a notion prevalent among the lower orders that, according to the Mussulman religion, the fact of a jamni or landlord having, IN DUE COURESE OF LAW, ejected from his lands a mortgagee2 or other substantial tenant, is a sufficient pretext to murder him, become sahid (or saint), and so ensure the pleasures of the Muhammadan paradise. This opinion has been openly stated before me by Mappillas, some indeed making a distinction as to whether the ejection was accomplished by fraud or otherwise, but others believing that the fact of the tenant being thus reduced to poverty was sufficient.”
NOTEs: 1. Para. 30 of his report.
2. i.e., a Kanakkaran. END OF NOTEs
And the same feeling is more than3 once alluded to in the correspondence on the subject. Mr. Strange further pointed4 out :—
“The spirit prevailing against the landlords I have remarked, as found by me, to be very strong, and greed of land unquestionably inflames it.”
NOTEs: 3. Mappilla Outrages Correspondence, Vol. I, pp. 194, 195, 205, 355, 360, 451, 453.
4. Report, para. 39. END OF NOTEs
Finally it is well known that the favourite text of the banished Arab Priest or Tangal —Saiyid Fazl—in his Friday orations at the mosque in Tirurangadi was :— It is no sin, but a merit, to kill a janmi who evicts.”
“The land is with the Hindus, the money with the Mappillas," observed5 Mr. Strange, so to get the land the Mappillas in his view encouraged fanaticism. That “greed of land” inflamed the movement there can be no manner of doubt, but, in the light of what has been set forth above, it may be permitted to question the accuracy of Mr, Strange’s conclusion that this greed was exhibited by the Mappillas alone.
NOTEs: 5. Mappilla Outrages Correspondence, Vol. I, pp. 194, 195, 205, 355, 360, 451, 453. END OF NOTEs
The real fact seems to have been that the janmis, influenced partly by the rise in the prices of produce and partly by the novel views of the courts as to their real position, had at last begun to feel their power as Lords of the Soil and to exercise it through the courts.
The Mappillas, who had been peacefully in possession of the lands since the time of Hyder Ali’s conquest, felt it no doubt as a bitter grievance that the janmis should have obtained power to evict them—a power which did not intrinsically belong to them — and the influential men among them, looking about for means to protect themselves, set fanaticism in motion, and at first experienced great benefits from it.
Mr. Strange holding, or perhaps rather never suspecting the accuracy of, the view that the janmi was really the Lord of the Soil, did not much concern himself with the land question. He suggested that the Sadr Adalat should issue the circular of 5th August 1856 already referred to defining the law as then held by the Honourable the Judges, and on three points he suggested that amendments in the practice of the courts should be made.
These were—(1) that the fine on renewal of the kanam deed should not be taken oftener than once in twelve years ;
(2) that the fees of various descriptions, but of a petty nature, should be regulated ; and
(3) that melkanam (an advance on the kanam debt) should not operate to a tenant’s disadvantage during the currency of his kanam lease.
He directed his main efforts towards the repression of the rampant fanaticism, and the chief measures finally sanctioned may be shortly described as
(1) a sort of permanent repeal of the Habeas Corpus Act in so far as the Mappillas are concerned in all disturbed tracts, and
(2) the fining up to total confiscation of property, if necessary, of all Mappillas resident within the limits of portions of the disturbed district.
The Government of India, when passing the first of the Mappilla Outrages Act, observed : “Within that period” (the period of five years, to which the operation of the Act was first of all limited) “it is hoped these fanatical outrages will be entirely suppressed by means of the increased powers conferred upon the Government of Madras and the judicial authorities, and by the establishment of the proposed police corps, and that the continuance of the Acts will be no longer necessary.”
This was written on the 31st March 1854, and unfortunately the Act does still remain on the Statute Book.
The policy of repression failed to fulfil its objects, and outrages or attempts at outrage have, notwithstanding the enormous penalties of the repressive Act, unfortunately occurred on 19th February 1858, 8th July 1860, 4th February 1864, 17th September 1865, 8th September 1873, June 1874, 20th March 1877, June 1879, 9th September 1880, December 1880, July 1884, 27th December 1884, 2nd May 1885, and 11th August 1885.
The exhibition of fanaticism on these occasions is still used as a means towards an end, and Mr. Strange’s description of the results is still true—“The power of the Mappilla caste, and the prostration of those of the adverse persuasion have been much advanced, and out of this substantial benefits to the aggressive body have arisen.”
Fanaticism through the fear inspired by its exhibition exalts the Mappilla religion, and this carries with it the exaltation of the Mappilla caste. This exaltation of the Mappilla caste enables them to make better terms with their janmis. The janmis do not fear the Hindus as a caste. Therefore Hindu tenants have to submit to terms which Mappilla tenants would not endure. And finally the result is that there is a steady movement whereby in all the Mappilla tracts the land in passing slowly but surely into the possession of the Mappillas and the Hindus are going to the wall.
Out of 14,034 pieces of land examined by Mr. Logan in the course of his inquiry as Special Commissioner in 1881 it was found that –
The cultivator held direct from the janmi, --------- 10,328
Do. from intermediaries between himself and the janmi , --------- 3,706
These 10,328 pieces or land were held on the following tenures
Similarly the 3,706 pieces held by the cultivators through intermediaries gave the following results:-
The kanam tenure is being steadily abandoned in favour of ordinary leases and more particularly in favour of leases from year to year or at will.
As regards the length of possession by the cultivators of the 14,034 pieces of land examined, the general results were found to be as follows :—
The largest proportion (over forty-three per cent.) of the grain cultivators have held possession of their lands for less than twelve years. The next largest proportion of them (over thirty-four per cent.) have been in possession for over thirty years. Whereas in regard to the garden cultivators these proportions are exactly reversed ; forty-three per cent, having been in possession over thirty years, while over thirty per cent, have held their lands for periods under twelve years. The statistics in regard to eviction suits supplied the following very suggestive figures:
NOTEs: 1. Exclusive of those sued in the Small Cause Courts. END OF NOTEs
These figures prove that in the nineteen years preceding Mr. Logan’s inquiry evictions had been steadily on the increase. Eviction does not however necessarily follow on a decree for eviction. The janmis have by this power of eviction been simply forcing up rents, which were formerly very moderate by force of custom. If the tenant agreed to enhancement of his rent then eviction did not usually follow on the decree against him. But if he refused he was ejected and a more amenable tenant took his place. The complaints against these eviction proceedings were both numerous and bitter, and ranged themselves under a few general heads, the chief complaints being of eviction : —
(a) from ancestral lands ;
(b) on demand of the land by the janmi ;
(c) just as the trees begin to bear;
(d) after due payment of renewal fees;
(e) before being permitted to reap standing crops ;
(f) for refusing to permit tenants’ trees to be cut by the janmi ;
(g) for refusing to give up the janmam title to other lands ;
(h) for sending petitions of complaint ;
(i) of widows and orphans.
On only three out of ninety-eight estates examined in the low country taluks, it was found that the cultivators were enjoying the share of produce set apart for them under Mr. Rickards’ scheme of assessment ; on all the others, the cultivators’ shares of produce had been encroached upon most seriously in most cases and most outrageously in some.
Consequently complaints of excessive rent and excessive renewal fees were very common and well founded in most instances.
Another very important subject of complaint was the inadequacy of the rates paid to the ryots for “improvements” when being evicted from their holdings. The cause of this has been already explained : the customary rates for improvements were the rates at which the janmi's share of produce had to be bought, and not at all the value of the ryots’ interest in his holding. When he (the ryot) wished to get rid of that (his interest in his holding) he sold it at its full market value, and this he does still though the janmi's power of ouster has greatly neutralised the value of the privilege.
Among other miscellaneous matters complained of were the following: —
(a) The insecurity to purchasers of kanam rights. This was a very well-founded complaint looking to the practical permanency of the tenure in former times, and the tenant’s free power of transfer of his interest in his holding,
(b) Breaches of contract to renew Kanam deeds. The system of renewal as now developed is an outrageous system of forehand renting requiring extravagant sums to be paid down on entry or renewal. These extravagant payments having exhausted the tenants’ resources and tenants’ credit, they cannot readily raise such sums. Renewal fees are, therefore now paid in driblets as the money can be scraped together, and the janmi frequently ignores such payments and gives away the land over the tenant’s head, thus forfeiting the payments made for which receipts are never given,
(c) Having obtained his renewal deed, the tenant is still not left at peace, for, under the guise of extra payments, fines, gifts, demands of produce, etc., and subscriptions he has to contribute in many illegal ways to his janmi's comfort and convenience. If he refuses, he is evicted at the next periodical renewal,
(d) The courts having viewed the kanakkaran's advance to his jamni as having been made to secure payment of the rent (pattam) and as having been also made on the security of the land, it follows that the tenant cannot be ousted for allowing rent (pattam) to fall into arrears, and if rent is allowed to fall into arrears it can be recovered when the kanam advance is paid off at the end of the tenant’s term of occupation. This being so it has become usual to write off from five to fourteen years’ arrears of rent from the kanam advance at the end of the term of occupation. In one case, that of a poor widow, nineteen years’ arrears of rent were so written off, the tenant being unable to produce receipts for the rent,
(e) Very numerous and well-founded were, the complaints that it is usually impossible to obtain receipts for rent paid.
(f) The jamnis' managers were as a body impeached, and with good show of reason, for fraudulent dealings in various ways with the tenants under them.
This brief sketch of some of the contents of Mr. Logan’s report on the land tenures brings matters down to the present day, and the following conclusions seem to be justified : —
I. The original Malayali system of land tenure was a system of customary sharing of the produce, each customary sharer being permitted the free transfer of his interest in the land.
II. Under British rule one of these customary sharers has been exalted into the position of a European proprietor holding the plenum dominium as the Romans called it.
III. The other customary co-sharers have consequently been gradually pushed to the wall and do not now receive their customary shares, and their right, of free transfer of their interests has been virtually expropriated.
IV. The insecurity to the ryots thus occasioned has resulted in fanatical outrages by Mappillas and in a great increase of crime. The remedies to be applied are still (1886) under the consideration of the Government of Madras.