Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Lakhiraj (rent-free grant)

Lakhiraj (rent-free grant) an Arabic term for rent-free land granted as a mark of favour to a subject by a superior landholder or the sovereign. Lakhiraj land or lands exempted from rent was an important characteristic of the Mughal constitution. During Hindu period also, there was a system of nishkar or rent-free lands granted to people favoured by the royalties for various reasons. The maintenance of religious establishments, educational institutions, shrines and temples etc. was considered to be the state responsibilities from very ancient times. Under the Mughals, the tradition attained its peak. According to the AMINI COMMISSION (1776), a significant part of revenue lands of the empire was assigned to the lakhirajdars of various denominations. In government documents the lakhiraj lands were recorded then as baze zamin or miscellaneous lands.
Attempts were made to resume baze zamins from the beginning of the British rule. The nature of the colonial state was inconsistent with the lakhiraj system. But stiff opposition from the grantees persuaded the government to revise its original policy and resume only those lands to rental which were proved to be alienated illegally. According to the Regulations XIX and XXXVII of 1793, all lakhirajdars were required to produce their sanads for verification and registration with the district collector's office. In 1822, the government resolved to make a survey of all illegally alienated lands and resume them to state ownership. The drive for the resumption of lakhiraj land led to a large-scale cancellation of lakhiraj sanads, which were mostly held by the Muslims. The drive ended in 1840 and since that time no rent-free land, unless claimed by any successor, was ever resumed by government.
Lakhiraj lands include pirottar or lands for maintenance of sufi establishments, brahmottar or lands for maintenance of Brahmanical establishments, aima or lands for charity organisations, cheragi or lands for upkeeping shrines, madat-i-mas or lands for the support of educational and benevolent institutions. According to law, the successors to the lakhiraj lands can enjoy them but cannot transfer them without a sanction from the government. Though lakhiraj lands were rent-free, every district collectorate maintains detailed records of such land in a series called B-Register, which records the latest incumbents of the lakhiraj rights. During British and Pakistan(East Bengal) periods, all lakhiraj grants were looked after by the Court of Wards, which used to manage a grant if its holders were in conflict as regards their individual rights and obligations.
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