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On this, the whole multitude stood up en masse. Nevertheless, apprehensive that they might possibly have misunderstood his question, he directed them all again to be seated. When they were all level, and scarcely one head appeared above the other, all those who considered the petitioner's claim to be unjust, were ordered to stand up. But not a soul rose in favour of the oppressor, and the Collector having examined the putwaree's accounts minutely, and ascertained that the petitioner had been in possession of the land, of course, directed his reinstatement, and excluded, with the concurrence of the proprietors, Maharaj Sing from the future management of the village. Sibba was allowed to succeed him. The air was rent with acclamations at this summary, expeditious, and certain mode of dispensing justice; and M.U.M.'s heart rejoiced to see a simple and uncorrupted (because they were, happily, nescient of Courts and their injurious iufluences) a simple and uncorrupted people, so enthusiastic in defending the poor and helpless against the proud man's contumely.
Cases on which evidence was requisite, were disposed of by the Collector's own order, or by reference to a more private punchayut; but all questions into which the pergunnah zemindars might be supposed to have entered, and which could not have escaped their observation, were refered in this manner to the public sense of the meeting : and really the unbought and unsolicited testimony of three or four thousand peers must come very near the truth ; and at
any rate must be more trustworthy than the gunga jullee oath of two paid witnesses.
In cases which could only be settled in the presence of the whole village community, such as claims to be exempt from the payment of village expenses, demands of fresh re-allotments of jumma on the several component puttees of a mouza, of partition of culturable waste, &c. the petitions were reserved till the period that the settlement papers were sent in, when either the razeenama of the claimant accompanied them, stating that he had received his full right, or the disputed matter was reported by the settlement writer for the decision of the Collector, who was always able, at one glance of the record, to see on what grounds the claim rested, which he could not have done as long as the papers were unprepared. But there were scarcely any plaintiffs who were not fully satisfied when the papers were made out. Indeed the only reason in most cases of their petitioning was,that they were not aware of the minute specifications which were entered on the proceedings for the protection of rights and privileges. The preparation of these records of municipal administration was entrusted to experienced and well-paid officers, who had been previously taught to exclude all fictions from their accounts, and register only the existing state of affairs, and the mutual agreements by which parties were to be bound for the period of settlement. If, on any occasion, there was reason to doubt the strict propriety of the entries, a superintendent was despatched from the Sudder cutcherry to revise and re-cast them, if necessary.
We now come to the method of fixing the assessment, which was reserved for future consideration. The tabular statement which the Collector had with him when he entered the pergunnah, was drawn out in the following form, exhibiting almost all the material points on which preliminary information was required. This shewed him at one view the total area measured by the professional survey, the quantity of land which ought to be excluded from assessment, the culturable waste, the cultivation of one measurement contrasted with the other, the average jumma which each mouzah had borne since the cession, amount of jumma which the local officers considered equitable, and the rates at which the present jumma fell on the cultivated and culturable area. We will extract the first twenty-five villages as they appeared previous to settlement on the Collector's list. We have no room for more.
The Collector, from local inquiry, and inspection of the soil, and close examination of the best putwaree papers, and by comparison with the rates assumed in the neighbourhood, considered that a fair average revenue rate (supposing the condition of the cultivators and the capabilities of the soil in all instances to be equal) would fall at the rate of three rupees on the irrigated acre, and one rupee twelve annas upon that which had no means of irrigation. This agreed very well with the testimony of the Mofussil officers and others who might be supposed to take a consistent view of the circumstances of the pergunnah, which represented that it was capable of bearing an increase of about 12 or 1,500 lupees. He then tried how far the assumed rate would correspond with the revenue of those villages which were unanimously allowed to be justly assessed, deriving a fair profit for their labour and stock, encumbered by no anticipation mortgages, or other alienations, and paying the Government demand without difficulty at the stated periods. He tried it upon numbers 16 and 17. In the former he only found 16 rupees, and in the latter only 13 rupees difference between his assumed rate and the amount of revenue which they paid. All this made him confident that he ought, as nearly as possible, to make the jummas approximate to this standard. His local inquiries and private conferences
guided him in admitting variations from it.
For about the first fortnight he had been in constant communication with the zemindars, whether in his fixed camp, or out on his explorations. After a cursory examination of their physiognomies, or from their general repute in the district, he was soon able to ascertain who were the most intelligent landholders in his camp. Of these he took about two from each of the predominant castes, and went through with them the whole of the village seriatim. The number, as we said before, was 250, we have in the table taken 25 as an integral pergunnah, merely for the purpose of illustration. The result of his communication with these men was to render any further inquiry in one hundred estates totally unnecessary, because their united testimony exactly tallied with the information conveyed by his tabular statement. There then remained 150 about which he was to make inquiries. He was in some doubt about half of these, and wished to have the first opinions corroborated by other authority. Twenty or thirty more zemindars were therefore called in, and he was enabled to strike off one-half, when he found his doubts cleared up. Of the remaining 75, some would be struck off every day, when further testimony enabled him to come to a determination. In this manner was the whole pergunnah reduced to ten villages only, respecting which he was not able to make up his mind; as they presented anomalies almost incapable of explanation, or were so much above or below the average rate, that without the most ample grounds for forming an opinion, he was unwilling to lower the jumma inordinately, or raise it to an amount which the proprietors would be unable to pay. Before forming his resolution on the amount which these anomalous mouzahs ought to pay, he had received no less than two hundred private opinions of the agriculturists themselves. Those regarding which the Collector still had a lingering doubt, were tried out in the open air according to the manner in which the juries were held, either by shew of hands, by standing, or sitting down, or any other method by which the sentiments of such a large mass of people could be obtained. Surely he could not, after this, have greatly erred when he came to fix his assessment.
On the day appointed for this important work the crowd was unusually large, but every thing was conducted with great regularity. The Collector called out the name of the mehals as they were to be assessed. When the zemindars appeared within the smaller square, the Sudder record of the fiscal history was read out, and all names rigorously excluded from the durkhasts which were objected to by all the sharers. When it was determined what names were to be signed on the engagements, the jumma was given out, and a blank durkhast and blank inkarnama were placed before them. As they knew pretty well that their jumma had been virtually fixed by their own companions and neighbours, they were not long in taking up the former. They then came within the large square, and signed the engagement before the Mofussil omlah and witnesses. In this manner were the villages of the pergunnah settled one after the other, and the whole was completed in three days.
In the column which was left blank to admit of remarks, the settlement officer by ciphers or abbreviations recorded the opinions of the zemindar on each mouzah, and the reasons which induced him to adhere to, or depart from, his assumed pergunnah revenue rate. These would be expanded in the miscellaneous general remarks appended to the form, known as No. II., but the substance of them may be thus extracted.
No. 1, Ulleepoor.—In this mouzah , the jumma remains 134 rupees beyond the revenue, rate. But it has been reduced 100 rupees below theformer amount, and will now remain below the average demand since the cession. No further abatement is requisite. The soil is of a good quality, and the means of irrigation are not deficient.
No. 2, Samundnugur.—The former jumma of this mouzah was very severe, falling at a rate of no less than 4 rupees 8 annas and 4 pie on the cultivated area per acre. There was nothing whatever in the circumstances of the village to warrant this excessive rate, which, indeed, could not have been paid, had not the same proprietors held three other villages in pergunnah Nizamabad, which were under-assessed. As those have by the late settlement been raised to their respective pergunnah rates, justice demands that this should be lowered to the same standard. The jumma has, therefore, been fixed at the revenue rate, which involves a reduction on the former demand of 770 rupees.
No. 3, Jurraendah. —The present jumma appears severe, but it has not been retained without reason. The Khusruh agrees with the professional survey respecting the amount of irrigation, because in this, as in similar instances, where the latter gives only the amount of wells, the irrigation is returned according to the detailed khusruh survey. On examining this mouzah closely, with a view to relieve some doubts respecting the jumma, it was ascertained that several wells had been concealed from the surveyor by stacks of bhoosa. As it was therefore evident that the assets of the estate were not fully represented by the rent rate, the zemindars did not appear entitled to any indulgence. No alteration, therefore, has been made in the jumma, which has hitherto been paid without difficulty.
No. 4, Kherahdhass.-Although the present jumma is above the revenue rate, it has been retained, because plenty of good culturable land exists, which, with the exercise of a very little industry, would afford a renunerating return.
No. 5, Ferozepoor.—The circumstances of this mouzah induced the demand of the full revenue rate. Abundant means of irrigation exist,. and there is plenty of culturable waste.
No. 6, Mohsunpoor.—The same remarks will apply to this village.
No. 7, Sadutnugur.—The same remarks also will apply here; except that the vicinity of the market town compensates the deficiency of culturable waste. The village also is densely populated.
No. 8, Chandpoor.—The renenue rate falls below the former jumma. Nevertheless an increase of 100 rupees has been demanded. The reason for this is to be found in the superiority of the soil, and the easy means of extending the irrigation over the whole area on account of the contiguity of the water to the surface. Engagements were proposed by another party for a jumma of 2,600, rupees which were not accepted, because the present incumbent acceded to reasonable terms, and the offer, moreover, was made from motives of enmity and revenge.
No. 9, Jaffernoor.—The revenue has been raised to the full amount of the revenue rate, as there was nothing in the condition of the mouzah to justify its exemption.
No. 10, Khaudepoor.—This has also been raised by a very small amount to the pergunnah rate. The canoongoe and tahseeldar proposed a larger increase, chiefly it is to be believed on account of the tractable disposition of the proprietors, who are Brahmins, and would have acceded to any terms which might have been proposed.
No. 11, Noorpoor.—The revenue has been raised 270 rupees beyond its former amount, but still remains below the pergunnah rate, as there is no land which is not already under crop.
No. 12, Roodagun.-Almost the same remarks are applicable in this instance. There is not much land which is not already cultivated, and the Government demand has been fixed 150 rupees below the general rate.
No. 13, Chundrowlee.—Forty rupees above the rate have been demanded on account of the large proportion of waste land.
No. 14, Govindpoor.—The jumma has been fixed with reference to the revenue rate, which is not much in excess of the former amount.
No. 15, Sodaespoor.—The revenue rate has been taken as the jumma, and an abatement has been granted to the amount of 53 rupees.
No. 16, Sithoulee.—This jumma differs so little from the general rate that it would have been injudicious to make any alteration.
No. 17, Cheeturpoor.—Ditto ditto.
No. 18, Suhwaeen.—The jumma has been reduced 75 rupees, which is not quite to so great an extent as the rate would have warranted, because there is some good waste-land easily reclaimable.
No. 19, Permanundpoor.—The jumma has been raised, but remains 50 rupees below the revenue rate, as the zemindars are not in very prosperous circumstances. The waste land is of inferior quality, and would require more capital and skill for its cultivation than the proprietors are likely to acquire during this settlement.
No. 20, Kurnapoor.—The revenue has been raised to 50 rupees, which brings it exactly to the amount of the general rate.
No. 21, Subharee.—This mouzah is not prospering. The proprietors are Goojurs, and by no means partial to industry. The perpetual quarrels between the members of this fraternity have injured the mehal. The lands are indifferently cultivated. No means are taken to improve the irrigation, and it was considered advisable to leave the jumma without alteration, for the revenue rate could not have been paid. Farming offers were invited at the 5th settlement, but the turbulent character of the Goojurs deterred respectable men from coming forward.
No. 22, Thanpoor.—This is a jãt village, and lapsed to the British Government in 1230 Fusly. It was previously held in jageer by Mooshtaq Shah. It has remained ever since that period at the present jumma, having never been subject to any intermediate settlement. It is one of the finest villages in the pergunnah. Minute investigations were entered into before the new jumma was fixed. The putwaree's papers and a summary suit filed while Thapp, or was held in jageer shewed the rental to exceed 3,200 rupees, so that the new jumma cannot be severe; and even if the full revenue rate had been taken, the average on the cultivation would still have remained moderate. The culturable waste is very large, and some of it is of very good quality. In order, however, to alleviate the difficulty of immediately paying so large an increase as 900 rupees, the jumma is made progressive, and will not reach its maximum for ten years. The assessed jumma forms nearly a mean between the estimate of the canoongoe and taliseeldar.
No. 23, Sarharah. —The revenue rate has been assumed as the Government demand.
No. 24, Soraha.--Ditto ditto.
No. 25, Haempoor—The old jumma has been retained although below the revenue rate, as there is no culturable waste to increase the present resources of the proprietors.