The Madras City Land Revenue Act, 1851

The Madras City Land Revenue Act, 1851came into force on 14th November, 1851. Act aimed at securing land revenue in the city of Madras. Under the Act the land revenue due to the government shall be ascertained and collected in a summary manner. The area in which the land revenue shall be collected is the one falling under ordinary civil judicature of High Court at Madras. After the amending Act, 1891 words ‘within local limits’ given under preamble were substituted for ‘within the local limits of town of Madras’.

The act provides for assessment of lands falling within the judicature of High Court Madras. Such lands should not have been assessed. Manner in which lands shall be assessed will be determined on such rates as are charged upon lands of similar description in neighbourhood villages.

Act provides for exclusion of ‘Lakhiraj’ lands. Rent free grant or ‘Lakhiraj’ land in Madras received as a grant from the British Government shall not be assessed for a period of sixty years. Lands to which British government has given exemption from assessment shall also not be assessed under provisions of the Act.

Assessment of land is vested in hands of collector. The assessment shall be based upon lands of similar nature and description in the neighbouring villages. Collector shall notify assessment so made. Assessment made by collector is subject to appeal to Board of Revenue, the appeal shall be made within six months from notification. The decision of Board of Revenue shall be final and binding under section 3 of Madras City Land Revenue Act, 1851.

Incase of lands of which assessment is already made, the collector may order reassessment of such land. The land referred here should be assessable lands. Reassessment shall be ordered on grounds for corresponding the land revenue and area of land i.e. to check correctness of previous land revenue assessment. In cases where it is found that assessment is in excess of dimensions of land, excess land revenue imposed on such lands shall be abated under section 5 of the Act.

Section 6 of the Act provides contrary to section 5 i.e. in cases where assessment of land is less. Where the dimension of land is more and revenue charged is less, collector shall order to recover the revenue for such un-assessed part of the land. Where the excess of land belongs to another person the Collector shall make an effort to recover the ground so usurped. Appeal against order made by Collector under section 5 and 6 are appealable to Board of Revenue within six months from the decision of Collector. Decision of Board of Revenue shall be final.

In cases where the land revenue is paid by tenants not immediately holding the property, the land revenue so paid is recoverable from landlord. Claim of government shall be given priority against all other claims under section 9. Sale of a land shall not take place unless the amount of claim is deposited with the collector. Section 11 of the Madras City Land Revenue Act, 1851 is omitted by Madras City Land Revenue and Land Recovery (Amendment) Act, 1967.

Incase of rent free grants or Lakhiraj land, Collector shall inquire into the claim, take evidence and supply report to Board of Revenue whose decision shall be final after proper scrutiny of the papers and evidence. Inorder that the Collector may perform his duties without obstruction the Act provides for penalties in nature of fine and imprisonment incase of default in payment of fine.

The Collector has power to punish for contempt under section 14. The punishment shall include fine and punishment in case of non payment of fine.  Powers of collectors are limited to the extent of the Act and he shall act subordinate to his superiors. The act also provides for penalties against revenue officers acting in excess of the powers granted under the Act.

Thus the Madras City Land Revenue Act, 1851 aimed at assessing lands under British India for the purpose of taxation. The Collector was made head and was an authority appointed by Government.

by Vibhuti Nakta.