The Bengal Revenue-Free Lands Regulation, 1825
Bengal Regulation 14 of 1825
[14th July 1826.]
A Regulation to declare the extent of the authority possessed by the Revenue-authorities, subordinate to the Governor-General in Council, in the confirmation of lakhiraj tenures; to define the principles to be followed in determining on the force and validity of grants made by persons exercising authority in different quarters previously to the acquisition of the country by the British Government [* * * * *]
1. Preamble. - Whereas doubts have arisen as to the extent of the authority possessed by the Revenue-authorities subordinate to the Governor General in Council in regard to the confirmation of lakhiraj tenures, which it is expedient to remove; and it is also desirable further to define the principles to be followed in determining on the force and validity of grants made by persons exercising authority in different quarters, previously to the acquisition of the country by the British Government; [* * * * *]
And whereas it is enacted by clause first, section 26, [Regulation II of 1819] that in suits instituted in the Zila Courts to contest the decisions passed by the Revenue Boards under the provisions of that Regulation, [* * * *] an appeal shall be received by the Sadar Diwani Adalat [* * * * *] and it appears to be expedient that [* * * *] cases wherein the decision of the Court may be opposed to the Judgment of the Board of Revenue, or other authority exercising the powers of that Board, [* * * * * *] should be open to a regular appeal, the following rules have been enacted, in addition to, and in modification of the provisions of Regulations [XIX] and [XXXVII]; 1793, [* * * *] of such parts of [Regulation] XII, , as refer to lakhiraj lands, and of [Regulation 1819,] to be in force from the date of their promulgation throughout the [territories] immediately subject to the Presidency of Fort William.
2. Lakhiraj tenures under what circumstances alone valid. - It is hereby declared and enacted that the power of granting lakhiraj tenures, namely tenures of land exempt from the public assessment, either for life or in perpetuity, as well as of confirming such tenures excepting by a regular judgment passed after a judicial inquiry, belongs and always has belonged, exclusively to the Supreme Government; and no act, order or decision granting or confirming any tenure as aforesaid within any of the territories subordinate to this Presidency, after the annexation of such territories to the British dominions, shall be held valid, unless the same shall have been done issued or passed by or under the immediate directions of the [State Government] or by some officer expressly authorized by Government to grant or confirm such tenures, or with respect to the confirmation of grants duly authorized by some competent Court of judicature in a suit regularly tried and decided by it, or by one of the Revenue Boards acting in a Judicial capacity, under the rules of Regulation VIII, 1811, whilst that Regulation (rescinded by section 2 of Regulation 11, 1819,) was in force; and subsequently under the rules of Regulation II, 1819, or any other Regulation expressly empowering the Revenue Boards, after full investigation of claims to exemption from assessment under the general rules applicable to lakhiraj tenures, to pronounce a decision against the assessment, to be considered final, except on proof, in a Court of Judicature, of fraud or collusion in the previous inquiry:
Provided also that no resolution or order passed by [* * * *] the Board of Revenue or other authority exercising the powers of that Board, whereby the right [of the Government] to assess any lakhiraj lands may have been relinquished or postponed, save and except decisions regularly passed according to the rules above cited, shall operate to the prejudice [of the Government] or be held to bar the Revenue-authorities from proceeding for the recovery of public dues under the provisions of Regulation II, 1819, or any other rules in force relative to the resumption of lakhiraj tenures held under invalid grants.
3. Trial of validity of grants. First. - The following principles are to be observed in determining the force and validity of grants made by persons exercising authority in the [territories] subordinate to this Presidency, previously to the acquisition of the country by the British Government.
Lakhiraj tenures, of which uninterrupted possession has been held declared valid, etc. Second. - Lakhiraj tenures of which uninterrupted possession shall have been exempt from assessment at and subsequently to the periods undermentioned shall be, and be considered to be, valid, without evidence to any formal grant or confirmation of the same, and shall be continued to heirs in cases in which it may be clearly shown, from the nature and denomination of the tenure, that it is hereditary according to the ancient usage of the country, namely, the 12th August, 1765, if the tenure be in [West Bengal] [Bihar or Orissa (excepting Cuttack)]; the 14th October, 1719, if the tenure be in [Cuttack including] Pataspur or its dependencies; [* * * *]:
Provided, however, that the above rule shall not apply to cases of derivative tenures, wherein it may appear that the tenure is derived from a jagirdar or other person, who, at any of the periods above specified, held lands free of assessment under a temporary or conditional tenure.
In all such cases the parcels of the land so held shall follow the condition of the principal tenure, and, if that be resumable, will consequently be liable to resumption.
Proof of title to hold or recover lakhiraj tenure to rest on claimants. Third. - The proof of possession in the cases provided for by the preceding clause, and (in the case of persons not the original grantees) of the hereditary nature of the tenure, shall be on the parties claiming to hold or recover the lakhiraj tenure; the general principle being that the ruling Power is entitled to a certain proportion of the produce of every bigha of land, excepting so far as it shall have transferred, relinquished or compounded its right thereto; and all parties claiming the benefit of such exemptions being bound to establish their respective claims and titles.
One or more successions before period specified not to establish of inheritance. Fourth. - Provided also that, although one or more successions to any tenure as aforesaid may have taken place before the periods specified in the second clause, the tact shall not be taken to establish a title of inheritance, unless the tenure be clearly of an hereditary nature or unless the right of inheritance therein shall have been admitted by the [State Government] on a reference made to Government according to the rules in force applicable to such cases.
Potentates and authorities recognizable by Courts, etc. Fifth. - The Courts of Judicature and Revenue-authorities shall not recognise any potentate or person as having been vested with the supreme power within any part of the[territories] subordinate to this Presidency, save and except the Kings of Delhi, the Subadars of [West Bengal], Bihar and Orissa, and the several authorities specified in [* * *] [Regulation] XII,  [* * *].
If in any case grants shall be produced purporting to have been made or confirmed by any other person than as aforesaid, alleged to have been vested with the supreme power for the time being, and it shall appear the Court or other authority investigating the same that the plea is well founded, the Court or other authority before whom the case may be pending shall, before passing any decision thereupon, refer the point to the [State Government] and be guided by [its] determination.
Conditions requisite to establish validity of grants by such potentates, etc. Sixth. - To the validity of grants made or confirming by the Kings of Delhi or by any of the Rulers aforesaid, it is and shall be held to be necessary -
1st, that they were made or confirmed within the period during which the person granting or confirmed the same possessed and exercised supreme power within the territory in, which the lands specified in the grant are situate:
2nd that the grantee actually and bona fide obtained possession of the land granted within the said period:
3rd That the grant was not subsequently resumed by the officers or the orders of the Government for the time being previously to the acquisition of the country by the British Government, or, if so resumed, that the competence of the officer to resume shall have been expressly disallowed by the [State Government],
Periods at winch territories subordinate to Presidency of Fort William were acquired by British Government. Seventh. - The following shall be held, for the purposes specified in this Regulation, to be the periods at which the several [territories] subordinate to this Presidency were acquired by the British Government, namely, for [West Bengal], [Bihar and Orissa (excepting Cuttack)] the 12th August 1705; [* * *] for [the Province of Cuttack], Pataspur and its dependencies, the 14th October, 1803 [* * *].
Conditions necessary to validity of grants not made or confirmed by Supreme Power. Eighth. - To the validity of grants not made or confirmed by the Supreme Power (excepting tenures of long possession described in the second clause of this section), it shall be held to be necessary -
1st, that they were made or confirmed by some authority which the [State Government] shall have expressly declared competent to make or confirm the same;
2nd that the grantee actually and bona fide obtained possession of the land granted, and that the revenue of the land was not subsequently, resumed by competent authority.
Decision of questions regarding lakhiraj tenures, resumed previously to acquisition of country by State Government. Ninth. - Provided also that in cases in which any lakhiraj tenure may have been resumed previously to the acquisition of the country by the British Government, the determination of the question whether the officer by whom or by whose order the resumption may have been made was legally competent to do so shall, in all cases wherein it may be necessary to determine this question, rest with the [State Government].
Moreover, all questions touching the validity of grants made or confirmed by any officer subordinate to the Supreme Power, or the legal effect of resumption by any such or officer which may not have been expressly provided for by the Regulations, and which may be material to the decision of any suit or inquiry, shall be referred by the Courts of Judicature or other authorities making the investigation to the [State Government] for determination unless the powers and competence of the officer in question shall have been previously determination [by the State Government],
4. Saving of lands devoted to religious or charitable use. - Nothing in this Regulation shall be construed to affect the provisions contained in [Regulation XIX, 1793,] [* * *] and [Regulation XII, 1805], relative to lands not exceeding ten bighas of which the produce is bona fide appropriated to religious or charitable uses.
5. [Revision of decisions passed before commencements, of Regulations.] - Repealed by the Repealing Act, 1873 (XII of 1873).
6. Modification of Regulation II, 1819, section 26. - In modification of the rules contained in section 26, [Regulation II, 1919] it is hereby enacted that in cases wherein a Zila Court shall annul or alter a judgment passed by the Board of Revenue or other authority exercising the power of that Board under the Provisions of the abovementioned Regulation, a regular appeal shall lie [* * *].
The provisions of the abovementioned section shall however still be applicable to cases in which the Zila [* * * *] Courts may maintain the decisions of the [Board of Revenue] or other authorities exercising the power of [that Board].