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The Calcutta Land- revenue Act, 1850

This legislation was enacted very far back in the British ruling era, in India and the said was provided with the name and short title as ‘the Calcutta Land- revenue Act, 1850’ (Act no. 23 of 1850) by the Amending Act of 1903. For the purpose and object relating to which the present legislation was provided is to secure the land revenue within Calcutta. The provisions of this enactment were sought to extend to the territories of Calcutta. In its preamble, the Act originally provides that, for ascertaining and collecting the land- revenue accruing due to the East India Company, in the summary manner as in other parts of the territories under the Government of that Company is ascertaining and collecting. However, by the Government of India (Adaptation of Indian Laws) Order, 1937, the words ‘East India Company’ were replaced by the ‘Crown’ word. And by the Adaptation of Laws Order, 1950, said ‘crown’ word replaced by the word ‘Government’.

It is provided in the first provisions of the Act, that within the town of Calcutta, all the lands except the property of the Government, which are assessable lands and the assessment rate of which is not known or even if such lands were not assessed before the Act came into effect, then all such lands are required to be assessed under this Act at the rate of 3 annas for each cottah. However, by the second provisions, it was given that the Lakhiraj tenures of land in Calcutta, of which uninterrupted possession had been held exempt from assessment for 60 years, will be valid. However, any other Lakhiraj tenures of land in Calcutta were not be treated as valid unless the same were being held under an unexpired gram from the British Government. Further for the collection of refused or neglected payment of sums at which the lands is assessed against the Owner of land or lessee of land taken from the Government, the Collector under this Act will be entitled to levy the same sums by distress and sale of the goods and chattels of such owner or lessee after making written demand thereof. It is also given that where in the case of Tenant or Occupier’s payment who is not holding immediately under the Government or in case of the seizure and sale of his property, such tenant or occupier can deduct the amount of the payment or even can levy it from the next payment of rent to his landlord. Further, as per section 5 of the Act it is made clear that, against any claims upon the land, the priority should be given to the claim of the Government for the Land- revenue or rent. It is also provided that in case the claim of the Collector as to arrears of the Rent is in dispute, then the process relating to distress and sale should not be stayed, however, it will be stayed if the amount claimed is lodge with the Collector. And if in case, after the passing of this Act, the arrears of rent or revenue is become due to the Government within the Calcutta town, then the same will be recoverable within the period of 6 years therefrom. The claim as to assessment free land or land held as Lakhiraj, should be enquired by the Collector under this Act and while doing so such Collector can take evidences offered by the claimant and also consider the supplied public records and also he will be responsible to report his proceedings and decision for the consideration of the Revenue Commissioner. And it will after the said Commissioner found validity in the Claim, then the order will be passed in that accord and the same will be final.

Moreover, in so far as the penal provisions in the Act are concerned, the section 9 says that, the persons obstructing or molesting the Collector or the Subordinate officers thereof while they performing their duties under this Act, will be held responsible for payment of fine of maximum of rupees 500 and in case of failure to pay fine, there will be jail of maximum term of 6 month which can be revoked as soon as the payment of fine is made. Such conviction will be under the authority of the Magistrate of the town of Calcutta. Further an authority is also vested with the Collector as to extend punishment for any contempt which if was committed in his presence in open cutcherry or office. Such punishment can extend as fine up to 200 rupees and if in case of failure to pay such fine, there will be imprisonment extending to 1 months jail. The Revenue Commission is vested with the appellate authority to hear appeals against the orders, and orders as to fine or imprisonment, whose decision will be final and non-appealable. The Collector is responsible to act under the control of Superior Revenue authorities.

In so far, the ground rents recoverable by the Government from the Lands in Calcutta are also termed ‘revenue’ and the matters connected with such ground- rents, the Supreme Court of Judicature which was established by the Royal Charter at Fort William in Bengal should not have any civil jurisdiction. In the Sadar station of the 24 parganas , the Civil Courts established therein by the Government should have jurisdiction as to the any actions relating to any injuries, tress pass by the Revenue officers under this Act or for all given acts. And for initiation of the actions before such Civil Courts a period of limitation is 6 months from the day on which the cause of action is arose. As such the present enactment is to provide for procedure for ascertaining and collecting the land revenue accruing to the Government within the Calcutta and also for the matters incidental thereto.

However, in the year 2014 the 20th Law Commission of India in its Second Interim report- ‘Obsolete laws: Warranting Immediate Repeal’ dated 13th October, 2014 on its study on ‘Legal Enactments: Simplifications and Streamlining’, it was recommended that the present enactment to be repealed after having consultation with the relevant States. The Commission provided the reason behind such repeal is that the present Act was enacted by the Governor General in Council prior to independence, but the same is now administered by the relevant State, which are having authority to repeal this enactment, also the Central Government is provided with the suggestion that the present enactment is to be taken off from its list also. Besides this, said Act was also recommended for repeal by the P C Jain Commission Report (Appendix A- 5).

Read the Bare Act: The Calcutta Land- revenue Act, 1850

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