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SUSPENSIONS AND REMISSIONS AND SPECIAL REDUCTIONS OF ASSESSMENTS.

544.  Advantage and drawbacks of fixed demand. When the British government substituted a fixed cash demand for collections in kind, and after painful experience learned the secret of assessing it with fairness and moderation it confined a great boon on the country. The opportunities for opperssion and peclation by underlings were much curtained, the of living was raised, and the value of the proprietrly right in the landwas enormously enhaced. But the measure was not without serious drawbacks, some of which have only been slowly recognized as evils, requiring remedy. In this chapter we are concerned with one of thse evils, namely, that arising from the occasional incompatibility between fixate of assessment and fluctuation of outreturn, and with the measures taken to remedy it without foregoing the undoubted advantages of a demand which does not vary.

545.  Exception that landowners would save to meet deficiencies of bad seasons disappointed. It was the theory of those able officers who foundedd the revenue system of north-western india that, if a moderate revenue of fixed amount was assessed the land owners could be expected, to an extent in whichactual experinence has beiled to meet the government demand in bad seasons from the surplus of good years. Theexpectation was plausible, but it took too little account of two important factors-the indian cliamate and the indian people. It did not allow enough for the extreme vicsisitudes of the harvests in many parts of the country, and it assumed that habit of thriftlessness, the growth of many centuries of misrule, would be repidly unrooted by supply a reasonable motive for saving. The peasent farmers of the punjab have had the advantage of a fair fixed demand for more than half a century, but it is still true that a consideable proportion of them is lazy and thriftless, a larger number hardworking and thriftless, and only a small fraction both industries and thrifty.

546.  Fluctuating assessment. Where the fluctuations in the crop areas from year to year very extreme, it has in some cases been judged best to give up a fixed demand altogehter, and to adopt in its place an assessment varying in the acreage of crops harvested. But, so,far, these fluctuation assessment amd to some canal-irrigated tracts, and the extension of system to areas depedent in rainfall in which variations (see chapter XXVII of the settlement manual)

547.  Rigidity of fixed demand should be tempered by suspensions and remissions. In most tracts therefore, government looks to its to make a fixed demand, which is polpular with the people and convenient to the state, work successfully by the use of the powers they possess of suspending and remitting revenue when there is a serious failure of crops.the rigid enforcement of the demand, irrespective of calamities of seasons is, a disastrous policy which government has clearly condeinned. the folly of collecting revenue frompeople who by reason of severve drought have not food in their houses, and whose credit with the graindealer is well nigh exhausted seems obevious, but in this matter routine has sometimes proved strongenough to overpower common sence.

548.  Evil resulting from laxity in collection. On the other hand a fixed demand must be treated as such, and the realization of on part of it should be suspended, and still less entirely foregone, without plan necessity. It is easy by laxity to demoralize the people and their headman. But it must be confessed that until comparatively resent times their was much more danger of undue regour than of over leniency. It is certainly not the intention of government to authorize anything in the shape of laxity or carelessness in the collection of the fixed demand, or to make the system of suspension and remissions as has been proposed, “a regular feature of the revenue add policy of the state, but is to be recognized as a measure purely of grace, and not of right, to be exercised only in exceptional cases of calamity so serve as to justify and necessitate a relaxation of the settlement contract. It is true that, even within the areas under fixed assessment, the necessity for relief will require with greater frequency in some part than in others, and that in tracts of great precariousness which it has not been thought advisable to be bring under fluctuating assessment, such relief may be frequently needed as a matter of administrative necessity but even in such tracts, government has not attention of abandoning the general principle “fixate of demand”, with its attendant certainly, as the basis of its revenue system it recognizes, however, that it is unwise, even in the interests of its on revenue to insist absolutely upon what has been termed “the sacredness of the settlement contract”, or to call upon the cultivator to pay the revenue or rent in all circumstances however unfavourvle, that while it is whole some and legitimate to expect him to take the badwith the good in years of ordinarily fluctuation, payment should not be informenced under condition which would compel a cultivator of ordinary care and prudence, who has to busy food for family on credit, to further imperial his future solvency by borrowing to meet the demand of the state.

549.  Proper working of suspensions presupposes knowledge of agricultural economy of district. No man can hope was to deal successfully within the questions that arise as regards the collections of and revenue unless he hasa clear grasp of the agricultural economy of his districts of the soils and the crops of its different parts the security of the insecurity of their harvests, the character of the land owners as regards industry the size of their holdings, and the extent of which they are burned with, or free from debit, the best written sources of information are the assessment reports on the different tahsils, the districts gazetteer’s, the settlement officer’s table and maps classifying estates as secure andinsecure, and this scheme for the working of suspension, but the study of these should only be aid to the knowledge to be gained by close personal observations.

550.  Demand should be punctually collected or regularity suspended. It should be an invariable rule either to collect the demand punctually or to suspend it regularity. Left to themselves, tahsildars are apt, even when they know that there will be difficulty in realizing the revenue, to let matters slide, in seta of making up their minds definitely whether suspensions are, or are not. If possible, proposals for suspensions and remissions should be dealt with by the deputy commissioner before the crops are cut and garnered. Failing that, all questions regarding the grant of suspensions on account of a harvest should have been decided the deputy commissioner before the installment on account of that harvest falls due. In his tours and tahsil inspections he should find out what the estates are in which suspensions are likely to be needed, and should either himself inspect them at harvest time, or arrange for their inspection by the revenue assistant, or by possible, no suspension should be given until the estate affected his been visited by some officer of a higher grade then the tahsildar. Until recently this was required by the instructions in every case. But, in practice, where failure in crops affected a large number of estates, the rule had to be treated as a counsel perfection. An experienced revenue officer,who by marching through a strickentract has gained a good general idea of the condition of its crops, need not hesitate to give suspensions to villages which he has not seen himself if he has before him the harvest jinn’s war statements and inspection note by the tahsildar or his naib. Accordingly, the following rider has been added to the rule. “in case of widespread distress, where the number of estates requiring suspensions is so large that all cannot be inspected by officer of higher rank, in section by a tahsildar or naib-tahsildar may be accepted as sufficient provided that as many villages as possible are visited in such assessment circle affected.”

551.  Classification of grounds for relief. The circumstances which call for suspensions and remissions may be roughly classes as-

(a)  ordinary, which are usually widespread ;
(b)  extraordinary, which are usually local and isolated.

The distinction is one practical important for the treatment appropriate to the two descriptions of cases is, as a rule, different.

552.  Ordinary calamities of season. The circumstances falling under the head of “ordinary” occasions for relief are mostly those arising from the normal vicissitudes of the seasons. Loss of crops is generally due to deficiency or excess moisture. The rainfall in most parts of the Punjab is very capricious both as regards its total amount, and, what is quite as important, its distribution over the months of year. According to the time at which the deficiency occurs, the calamity takes the shape either of a shrinkage in the area shown or of the destruction of growing crops.In a very bad season it is but too common to find both these evils united to produce disaster. (see paragraph 373 of the settlement manual). When rainfall are seed-time the contraction of the area shown is of course most marked, in unirrigated lands, but well crops are also affected. The acreage is often reduced, and the cost raising them is much enhanced. If the land has to be swatered before it can be shown, the effect of drought on growing crops can hardly escape the most careless observer. But the mischief done by frequent heavy falls of rain to crops on light sandy soils is more likely to pass unnoticed. The case of flooded lands under fluctuating assessment will be refereed to later. Where their assessment is fixed, the same principles apply as in the case of other unirrigated lands. But it must not forgotten that a flood which ruins the autumn crops may be of the greatest value for the much more important spring harvest.

553.  Fluctuations of yield allowed for in assessment. The calamities of which we are now treating being due to ordinary changes of the seasons, ought in some measures to have been sore seen allowed for by the settlement officer. His final settlement report and his schemefor the working of suspensions should throw light on this point. Assessments nowadays are ultimately based in the application of a rate to the average area of successful crops for a series of years, and not to the cultivated area of the year of measurement, which may or may not, have been normal. In so far as functioned of yield have really been allowed for by lowering the rate on the cultivated area, the doctrine that landowners must meet the shortage of a bad year from the surplus of good seasons should be kept in view. But great watchfulness must be shown if there is a succession of poor harvests, otherwise an unfair burden may laid on the people. If the collector is satisfied that distress really exists, and that the profits of the land injuriously affected have fallen much below what were anticipated at the time the assessment was made, the suspension of a portion of the current demand will be appropriate.

554.  Insecure dry tracts in south-eastern Punjab. In very insecure tracts it will probably be found that the settlement officer has himself clearly stated that there was no demand which he could with justice to the state impose which could be paid alike in good and bad years, and that he regarded the grant of suspensions from time to time as essential to the smooth working, of his settlement. This is a position which no one who has had experience of the rain lands in the south-east of the Punjab will dispute, and it has been fully accepted by government. In the orders of Punjab government on the report of the first revised settlement of the rohtak district sanction was given to the assessment “on understanding that in the case of all unirrigated lands the revenue assessed so one which is to be paid in full in ordinary years, but whichgovernment does not expect to realize at once during severe or long continued droughts. In such seasons suspensions will be freely given (paragraph 11 of review of settlement report of rohtak by Mr. H.C. Franshawe) an object lesson was soon after furnished by the breakdown of the revised settlement of Gurgaon, which was aggravated, if it was not caused, by bad revenue management. In explaining the conditions on which the reduced assessments proposed were accepted Sir James Lyall remarked.

“these conditions are that the full revenue of insecure tracts shall not be realized in years of severe or long continued drought, but that such relief shall be given by way of suspensions, and, when necessary, by way of advances for the purchase of bullocks etc., as may be called for by the actual circumstances of the case when carefully considered by the light of the continuous record of agricultural conditions which is now…………..maintained.

“it is impossible not to feel that the necessity for a general division of th original assessment………..would probably never have arisen but for the neglect of these principles. It is equally impossible……….to believe that any adequate assessment could ever be devised for the insecure tracts of this districts which could be safely realized without suspensions in yeas of severe and long-continued drought…………the variations in the rainfall, and especially in the sensonsbleness of the rains’ the consequent fluctuations in the area sown, and still greater fluctuation in the area harvested; the liability of the people to terrible losses of cattle in years of drought; the great mortality from fever which is apt to follow upon abnormal seasons; and the character of the population most liable to suffer from the effects of such seasons-all these circumstances constitute a marked condition of these things which demands special and exceptional treatment (paragraph 22 of Punjab government orders on Mr. Channing’s settlement report of Gurgoan)

555.  Other rain lands in Punjab. These principles are clear enough, and, while they apply in the fullest degree to the south-easten districts of the state, where the rainfall in good years is sufficient to mature an immense are ofunirrigated kharif crops but where the variations from the normal are extreme, they apply less or more to all parts of thePunjab plains in which the rainfall permits of barani cultivation, except a few specially favored tracts close to the hills. It is easy moreover to exaggerate the security of submontane lands. In the low hills and the broken country sometimes found near the outer spurs of the Himalayas the harvests are often very precarious. An instance of the former is the hill circle of Gurdaspur, and examlpes of the latter are the bharrari of the same districts and the kandi circles of Ambala. Submontane tracts are only secure where the surface is flat, otherwise in years of drought the rapid drainage does any with much of the benefit of a somewhat larger rainfall.

556.  Arrears easily recovered in insecure unirrigated tracts. It is fortunate that those unirrigated tracts in which, suspensions in a large scale are most often required are precisely those in which the recovery of arrears is most easy. Their suspension need rarely be followed by remission unless a succession of bad seasons entails very heavy losses of cattle and deprives the people of the means of rapidly replacing them. In other words, remissions on a large scale need only be contemplated when scarcity has deepened into famine. The revenue rates have been pitched low because the periodical recurrence of short harvests was foreseen, the holding are as rule large, and in good seasons the surplus after meeting all expenditure is very great.

557.  Well lands. The case of well lands is widely different. The effect of drought in well-irrigated estates should be closely watched just because the signs of the disease are likely for a considerable time to elude the notice of a careless observer. Well irrigation and small holding generally together, and the surplus remaining with the husband man, after paying the revenue and providing fir the support of his family, is always small. The price and the deep of the bullocks are heavy items of expenditure. In the drier parts of the state the wells by themselves cannot mature any large area without the help of the river floods in autumn or of watering from inundation canals, both precarious sources of moisture. On such wells moreover a considerable part of the area has to be given up to provide fodder for the cattle, and in dry years this area inevitably expands. Even in more favoured tracts during seasons of severe drought, the sacrifice of valuable crops, such as sugarcane, to keep the bullocks fit for works is a common sight. Well estates bear up at first in years if short rainfall better than unirrigated ones. But, if drought is very severe, especially if it is prolonged over several harvests, they suffer more severely and recover more slowly. Where relief has to be given in well-irrigated estates consisting mainly of small holding the collector should consider whether it should not take the form of remissions.The calamity is one for the possible occurrence of the form of remission’s. The calamity is one for the possible occurrence of which little or no allowance may have been made in assessing the village, the rates are as a rule far higher than on unirrigated soils and absorb a larger proportion of the average net assets, and the surplus even in good years, is small. These conditions are just the opposite of those which prevail in those unirrigated tracts which are classed as insecure. Ifthe relief given has taken the form of suspension, much care and patience is required in the recovery of arrears, and if good sessions do not specially return, remission may be proposed before it would be admissible under the provisions of paragraph 576(1)

558.  Remissions of revenue when wells fall out of use. The precariousness of the well cultivation in some of the western and south-western districts has been so clearly recognized that it has been made a condition of the land revenue settlement that well assessment will be remitted when a well falls out of use from use cause and re imposed when it is again brought into use. The following rules have recently been sanctioned providing of the reduction of revenue when a private irrigation work fall out of use during the term of settlement.

The rules do not apply.-

(a)  to any district, or parts of district, for which local rules has been sanctioned, or may here after be sanctioned
(b)  to unlimited (Khacha)wells on  jhaalars of similar description.

RULES

I.  The collector shall remit so much of the assessment of the land  irrigated from a masonry or rube-well as is based on the profits of irrigation from such well.

(a)  when it ceases to be fit for use;
(b)  when irrigation from it is superseded by sanal irrigation and canal advantage revenue  has been imposed.

II.  The collector may grant a similar remission if the well though  still fit  or use has been out of use for four harvests, provided that no remission shall  be given  if the disuse of the well-

(a)  occurs in the ordinary course of husbandry, the well being intended for use merely in  seasons of drought;
(b)  is due  to the introduction  of canal irrigation,  and canal advantage for venue has not been imposed.

NOTE- The revenue versed on the profits of irrigation  form the well shall ordinary be assumed to be as follows:-

(a)  where a lump sum has been  imposed at the distribution of assessment in the well in addition to a non-well rate- such lump sum.

(ii)  where a lump sum, inclusive of a non-well rate, has been imposed at the distribution of assessment-such lump sum, after deducting the equivalent of the non-well rate.

(iii)  where the distribution of the assessment has been by soil rates-the difference between the actual assessment of the area irrigated, and the  amount which would have been assessed on that area, if it had not been irrigated.

111.  cases nay occur which will not be sufficiently met by the remission of only so much of the assessment as is based upon the profits of irrigation from the well. Such cases should be refereed through the commissioner for the orders of the financial commissioner.

IV  in deciding whether to use the discretion given to him by rule II, the collector shall consider whether the disuse of the well is due to some cause beyond the control of the landowner, such as the sread of salts in the soils, the loss of tenants or cattle, and extreme difficulty in replacing them.

V.  except with the sanction of the financial commissioner, no remission’s shall be given under these rules unless the distribution of the assessment of the estate has been made in one or other the ways described in the note to rule II

VI.  when a remission is granted, it shall take effect from such harvest as the collector may determine.

VII.  If a few well is made to irrigate the land attached to a well in respect of which remission has been granted under these rules, or if such well is repaired, the reimposition  of the assessment will ordinary be effected in accordance with the rules for the gran of certificates of exemption contained in paragraphs 505 to 508 of the settlement manual.

VIII.  Where a well for which a remission has been given is again brought into use, and no certificate of exemption  is granted, as, for instance, on the return  of tenants or by reason of replenishment of cattle, the deputy commissioner shall reimpose the whole of that portion of the assessment which was remitted with effect from such harvest as he may determine.

If in any case the collector thinks the whole should not be reimposed he should report the case for the orders of the commissioner.

IX.  these rules may be applied, so far as they are applicable, to the grant of  remissions in the case of their irrigation works constructed at  private expense, such as canals water-courses, dams embankments, reservoirs, and masonry Jhhalars. They may also be applied to wells which, though only  partially lined with stone or brick, are expensive to make and may ordinarily be expected to last for some years.

Change in the fixed land revenue roll necessitated by the remission or  reimposition of well assessment, either under these general rules or under abalogous special lecal rules, as approved should be  reported once a year on 1st  September for orders in the form of a comparative demand statement  prescribed by paragraph 9 of Standing order No.31.

Commentary

The principles of natural justice were required to be observed because the matter had to be determined by the Tehsildar and the collector as quasi-judicial Tribunal and also under section 3(2) of Punjab land revenue(special assessment) Act,1955 requires a speaking order.

 

558-A   Suspension and remission of land revenue when cultivable lands are rendered unfit due to thur, sem, dhoes and sand - Damage to  crops is also caused by Thur, Sem,Chos and Sand,etc., which necessitates the suspension and remission of land revenue. Accordingly the following rules have been sanctioned in this behalf when the cultivable areas are rendered unfit for cultivation due the these cases.

1 short title and commencement - (1) these rules may be called the Punjab land revenue (thur, sem, chos and sand) remission and suspension rules, 1960.

(2)  they shall come into force at once.

2.  Definitions - In these rules, unless context otherwise requires:-

(a)  “Act” means the Punjab land revenue act 1887 :
(b)  “ cho” means a bed of a torrent strating from the siwalik hills:
(c)  “frorm” means a form appended to these rules:
(d)  “sem” means the rise or collection of sub-soils water or moisture to such an extent that the land so affected becomes unfit for cultivation: and
(e)  “thur”  “kallar” of “reh” means a white or ash coloured substances which may or may not subside after rains but the existence whereof betayed by the crispness of the crust swelling over the powered earth underneath it.

1.  Patwari to make entries of all unfit and uncultivable lands. At the time of each harvest inspection the patwari shall enter in the khasra girdawari all those fields which may have been rendered unfit for cultivation due to thur, kallar, reh or sem as thur, kallar reh or sem, as the case may be, along with the word khali. He shall alsoenter all such fields which have been rendered unfit for cultivation or grazing due to cho or deposit of send in consequences of heavy floods as “ Ghairmumkin cho” or “Ghairmumkin sand” as the case may be.

2.  Entry as kharaba to be made where production estimated less than twenty five percent. Whenever a field affected by thur, kallar, reh, sem, cho or sand is sown with a crop but the yield is less than twenty-five percent of the normal yield the entry shall be “kharaba” together with the word thur, kallar, reh, sem cho cr deposit sand as the case may be.

3.  Only affected areas considered. Wherever a pat of the yield is affected by thur, kallar, reh, sem, cho or deposit of sand, only the area affected thereby shall be taken into consideration.

4.  Entries to be inspected regularly by inspecting officers. All fields, for which new entries as required by rule 3 and 4 are made shall be checked by the filed kanungoes and at least fifteen percent of them by the tehsildar or naib-tahsildar concerned. A specific note showing that such inspection has been made shall be given by the inspecting officer. The revenue assistant or the sub-divisional officer (civil) shall also check the girdawaris of at least ten percent of the villages which are affected by thur, kallar, reh, sem, cho or deposit of sand.

5.  Entries to be changed  after three consecutive harvests. Where an entry is made for a particular filed or a part thereofas required by rule 3 successively for three harvests, and a similar entry has to be made in the fourth harvest word “banjar jadid” shall be substituted for “khali” in the fourth harvest and if this entry persists further for four succeeding harvests, it shall be changed into banjar quadim in the eighth harvest in the case of lands affected by cho and deposit of sand, the entry shall continue to be ghairmumkin cho or ‘ghairmumkin sand’ as the case may be.

6.  Name of crop to be shown if unculeivated land brought under cultivation. Any field or part thereof for which the previous entry in the khasra girdawari is ‘banjar jadid, thur, kallar, reh or sem” or “banjar quadim, thur, kallar, fer or sem” or gharimumkin cho or ghairmumkin sand and which is again brought under cultivation, the entry in the khasra girdwari shall show clearly the crop sown:

Provided that if the yield of the crop sown is less than twenty-five percent of the normal yield it shall be shown as ‘kharaba’.

7.  (1) Land revenue to be remitted from Rabi harvest - The land revenue of every field of part thereof, for which an entry exists as banjar jadid quadim,thur, kallar, reh, or sem, ghairmumkin cho or gharimumkin sand’ at the timeof coming into force of these rules shall be remitted with effect from the Rabi harvest following the enforciment of these rules.

(2)  The land revenue of every field or part thereof for which an entry is made as banjar jadid/qadim, thur, kallar, reh or dem of ghairmumkin cho of ghairmumkin sand, after the coming into force of these rules shall be remitted with effect from the Rabi harvest such an entry is made in that harvest and form the following Rabi harvest if the entry is made in the kharif harvest.

8.  Revival of assessment of land revenue. Recycle of assessment Subject to the precision of rule 19,the remission shall cease and the assessment of land revenue remitted under these rules shall revive after the field of part thereof, with respect of which the remission was granted has produced four crops the yield of each of which is more than twenty five per cent of the normal yield.

9.  Revival of assessment to take effect from Rabi crop. The revival of assessment of land revenue under rule 10 shalltake effect from the fifth harvest if it is Rabi and if the fifth harvest is kharif from the Rabi harvest following such kharif harvest.

10.  Statements to be drawn up by patwari. After the expiry of Rabi harvest every year and within five days of the expiry of the Rabi girdawari of the village the patwari shall draw up a statement in form a showing all the field number in which remission under rule9 has to be given and another statement in form C showing the field number in which assessment of land revenue is to be revived under rule 10.

11.  Statements to be checked up by officers. Every field kanungo shall carry out a complete check of these statement with the relevant entries of the khasra girdawari and record a certificate to thateffect on them. The Tahsildar or naib tahsilfar cimderned shall carruy out similar check of twenty-five per cint enteies in Forms A and C. the assistant sollector and the collector may at any rime carry outrandom checks of these forms.

12.  Tahsildar to forward consolidated statement to the collector. The tahsildar shall have a consolidated statements prepared for his tahsil in form B and submit it together with the statement in form A to the collector by the twentieth april, every year.

13.  Statements to be checked and forwarded to tahsildar. After the statements in forms A and C have been prepared and checked by the revenue officers the same shall be forwared to the tahsildar concerned.

14.  Collector to suspend or remit the land revenue. On receipt of form B the collector may remit the land revenue, asproposed there in, if the total amount to be remitted for the tahsil, does not exceed Rs. 3,000 or suspended it if it exceeds this limit and forward the proposal for remission to the commissioner or the division for sanction. The order or suspension or remission thus made by the collector or the commissioner, as the case may be, shall be conveyed to the tahsildar concerned immediately who shall give effect to it. Necessary changes in the Dhal Bachh and other relevant papers shall made accordingly.

15.  Patwari to enter statement in daily diary. The patwari shall enter in his daily diary the statements of all fields mentioned in forms A and C for each village at the time of their submission to the tahsildar.

16.  Patwari to furnish parcha landowners and enter it in daily register. A parcha in form D of the filed numbers mentioned in form C shall be delivered by the patwari to the landowners concerned or in his absence to the lambardar or sarpanch of the gram panchyat and a copy thereof shal be pasted on the tesidential house of landowner in the village, within ten days of the completion of the rabi harvest girdawari of that village and an entry to this effect shall be made in his daily diary.

17.  Procedure for revival of assessment. (1) after the parcha has been delivered in accordance with the provisions of rule 18 of the landowner may within a period of fifteen days of the date of its delivery file his objections with the tahsildar or naib-tahsildar concerned who shall after making such inquiries as he may deem proper pass such orders as he may deem fit. As far as practicable such orders shall be passed every year before the 10th of May.

(2)  After the objections have been disposed of under sub-rule(1) the tahsildar shall forward a consolidated statement in form E of all the statements forwarded to him in form C along with a copy of each of the orders passed by him on the objections preferred under sub-rule(1) to the collector of the district who may confirm the revival of assessment of land revenue with or without amendment.

18.  Statement to be surnished by collector. The collector shall furnish to the financial commissioner through the commissioner a statements shwing seprately the total amount of land revenue remitted as well as the amount of land revenue with respect to which the assessment has been revived under these rules. Such statements shall be furnished before the 15th of June, every year.

19.  Repeal of existing rules. These rules shall supersede all previous rules in force in the state for suspension, remission or revival of assessment or land revenue or cultureable areas rendered unfit for cultivation due to thur, kallar, reh, sem, cho or deposit of sand (the forms mentioned in these rules are attached to similar rules appearing in appendix II to F.C.’s S.O. no. 30)

559.  Suspensions, usual relief in case or ordinary calamities. The follwing instruction have been issued as to the relief to be given in the case of ordinary calamities. It will sometimes be found advisable to grant relief from the beginning in the form of remissions. If, for instance, the amount of revenue which it is decided not to collect is such that when considered with referance to the recent history and present condition of the people, the nature of the assessment and the character of the tract, it is practically certain that it wil be impossible subsequently to collect it, it should not be kept unnecessarily hanging over the heads of the revenue-payers, but hsould be remitted at once. So again the special condition of certain tracts may justify the adoption of initial remission as the rule. But, in view of the fact that remissions require more careful investigation than is necessary for an order of suspension, it may taken as a general rule that in cases of widespread calamity, where promptitude is essential, relief should in the first instance by given in the form of suspension.

560.  Exitent of crop failure justitying relife. It is impessible to lay down a fixed criterion for the determination of the exact point of cfop failure whichshould be deemed to justify the grant of relif. It has been suggested that only those calamities which are too severe to have been contemplated by the assossing officer as inclide in the normal course of events should be recognised, and the principle is sound in itself, but does not cover the whole case. An eight-anna failure of crops in a precarious tract where it is of no unusal occurance would have been taken account at assessment, and would not in this principle admit of ht egrant of relief, whereas a similar degree of failure in a rich and stable tract, not having been taken into consideration, would, on the same principle, be held to justify relief. In this matter it has been decided to accept the conclusion arrived at in 1882 and endorsed by the famine commission of 1901 that “relief will not ordinarily be required when there is half a normal crop” it may indeed be necessary to very the standard for special tract or under special conditions, and the considerations indicated above should thaen be borne in mind, but it should not be departed from except in rare cases and under exceptional circumstances. On the other hand, it does not necessarily follow that the failure of more than half a crop will always justify relief, as much depends upon the nature of the harvests immediately proceding and upon the importance of the harvest in question.

561.  (1) Scale on which relief should be given - (1) once it is decided that relief is necesszry. It remains to deremine the scale on which relief should be afforded. In dealing with the sale of relief to be given when the crops do not reach half the normal standard, it would be fallacious to suppose that the various degree of crop failure can be accurately dealt with by slavishly following any arithmetical formula. At the same time, without the guidance of arithmetical standard, it is impossible to ensure any kind of uniformity in the grant  of relief, and  accordingly, although anything in the shape of servile adherence to formula is to be deprecated, a standard scale of relief on an arithmetical basis is now prescribed for general guidance, and a scale should be laid down in this form for each districts or other suitable tract. When a district comes under settlement, the revision of the scale for that distirct will be made a part of the duites of the settlement officer. In deciding in the correspondance between the degree of relief should increase, as the yield decreaes, more rapidly than the degree failure,. The cultivator has to depend for his own sustrnance and that of his family upon the margin left to him after his obligatory payments have been deducted from the yield of his field. The amount required for that substance will no doubt be larger in good than in bad years since in the latter he must be content with a lower standard of living than in the former, but there is a minimum standard below which it is impossible for him to go a minimum which depends to some extion for subsistence being to this extant a contant quantitive, it is obvious that a four anna crop will leave much less than hald the margin which will be left by and eight-anna crop out of which to pay rent or revenue. The relief therefore should be more than double in the former, of what it is in the latter, case. Accordingly, the following may be taken as a suitable type in cases where no relief is given for a failure of less than half the normal crop:-

crop (16 annas normal)                            degree of relief

6 annas and less than 8 annas                       25 percent

4 annas and less than 6 annas                       50 percent

less than 4 annas                                         100 percent

The above may moreover be looked upon as showing the degree of elaboration which is considered suitable for such scales, and the introduction of tables of relief containing much greater complication than the type above incated is deprecated.

(ii)   Caution regarding use of scale. In regard to the above scale, it must be remember that in judging the value of a crop and in deciding whether it is, for instances equal to 6 annas and less than 8 annas, regard must of course be had not only to the area matured, but also to the yield. Thus occasionally bad conditions at showing time may be followed by very favourable conditions later with the result that out turns on a reduced, natured area may be larger per acre than the normal morever, the general rule that yield per acre falls as the matured area decreases applied less fully to irrigated, than to unirrigated lands. Other considerations, which should not fbe lost sight of in applying the scale of relief, as district from judging the value of the crop, are given in paragraph 563 (iii) infra. Revenue officer should bear in mind that, in dealing with suspensions and remissions, the normal standard of ottern and area of crop is that assumed by the settlement officer on which the assessment was based.

562.  Differential treatement of landowners and estates how far justiciable. The question of suspensions with reference to the treatement of strong and of poor and impoverisshed estates a distinction must be drawn between  times of famine and widespread scarity when suspensions on a large scale have to be given, and times when the area affected is circumscribed and purely local. Famine or widespread scarcity may be held for present purposes to be established if the area affected exceeds that which could be inspected thoroughly by the revenue assistant in a month. In this case no differentitation between rich and poor revenue-payers should be attempted, and such discrimination, when exercised at all must be confined, to cases of remission (see paragraph 583 infra) when the area is circumseribed of  purely local the collector should use his discretion and must ordinarily hold the balance between the course  of trating all the land-holders in one and the same estate alike, to which he is ordinarily practically bound by motives of convience and expediency, and the policy which would make a distinction between the village which can pay without borrowing and that which cannot. In deciding whether a suspension  or remission of land revenue is called for any estate, the collector should have regard to the considerration whether such relief is called for in the interest of tenant, irrespective of those of the landlord. Rich landlords are often willing to pay in the revenue demand, although there has been failure in harvest, because the power which this gives them over tanants who have statutary rights. Consideration for the interest of the tenants of an estate may necessiate suspension or remission of theland revenue, even where landlords do not wish for any such relief. It is only in cases where government cannot secure the suspension of rent for tenants that discrimination between rich and pooor landowners is permissible, and even in such cases only the following three classes may be excluded form the relief affirded by suspensions. Firstly, the  men who are known to be bad landlors and rack-renters; secondly, those well-to-do landlords who can pay without imperilling their future solvency and thirdly the capitaliist, money-lending, and, professional classes who hold land purely as an investment. It may indeed be true, as pointed out by the famine commission of 1901 in paragraph 279 of their report, that many members of this last class are small men who speculate with borrowed capital; but there is no reason why they should not be held to their contract,and should not take risk if investment in the land as much as of any other form of investment. While however, authorizing the discrimination of these three classes of landlords in tracts where the extension of drelief to tenants cannot besecured, or where the rent is realized as a share of the produce, and thus is automatically adjusted to the outtun of the harvest, government at the same time recognizes invidious character of any arrangement by which relief granted tolandowners generally is denied to an occasional money-lender or retired government offficer who here and there may have invested his money in land, and it will, in their opinion, be wise to abandon any attempt at discrimination, except in areas where the classes to be discriminated represent a reasonable proportion of the landowners or own fairly large tracts of land. But, at the same time, the collector should remember that, while discrimination against people of th above three classes is not prohibited, the general rule should be that discrimination between individuals should not be attempted at this stage, but should be limited to villages or in comparatively rare cases to such patties or tarafs of villages, as are distinguished from one another in some marked way, either physically or by the caste o tribe of the landowners or mortagafes in possession. In such cases the washes of the village community should be ascertained, but the interests of the poorer, rather than those of the well-to-do, members of community lector should state brielfy the policy he has followed and the reasons for discrimination where he has done so.

563.  The  danger-rate (i) when suspensions have to be granted in a large scale, Collectors should always refer to the district suspension shceme drawn up under paragraph 554 of the Settlement Manual. For each district, and where necessary, for such assessment circle, and with the special permission of the of the Financial Commissioner, for smaller, areas, a danger-rate will have been framed by the settlement officer, or, if special orders have been given in this behalf, by the Collector.

(ii)  The danger-rate is intended as a rough guide to the necessity for giving relief in insecure areas, and in no way supersedes the necessity for oral and general enquiries whereby the need for such action may be otherwise established. It is not meant that suspensions shall of course be confined to villages to which attention is called by the danger-rate or of necessity granted in such villages. Nor is it intended that the danger-rate should be used for the purpose of determinating the scale on which relief should be afforded. The relief will be granted in accordance with the crop standard referred to in paragraph 561 supra, after account has been taken of the considerations mentioned in (iii) infra. But it may safely be said that any village in an insecure tract in which at any harvest the incidence of the revenue instalment on the matured area equals or exceeds the danger-rate, should be inspected by a revenue officer, and the circumstances which bear on the question, whether relief should be allowed or not, should then be fully investigated.

(iii)  Amongst these circumstances are the extent to which prices have risen since the land-revenue demand was framed by the settlement officer, the character of the preceding harvests and prospects of the next, the presence or absence of stocks for good or seed, the condition of the cattle, the kinds of crops grown whether for food, for fodder, or for sale, the character of the cultivation; whether dependent on rain, canals, river-spills, hill-torrents, or wells, the nature of the rents; whether in cash or kind, the migration, if any, of tenants, the relative importance of the kharif and rabi harvests, the power of expanding the area of cultivation, the presence or absence of sources of income other than the crop, such as grass, charcoal; the carrying trade, employment in cantonments, etc,. the size of holdings and the number of rent receivers not themselves cultivators-in short, all those circumstances which show the general condition of the landowners and their capacity to pay the revenue.

CAUTION : -    READ SEPARATE PARA FOR PUNJAB AND HARYANA

564.  Extraordinary grounds for relief. Under the head “extraordinary” fall such calamities as hailstorms and locusts. These are accidents which the settlement officer could not foresee or take account of when fixing the assessment of an estate. The assets are suddenly reduced by a cause which the husbandman is powerless to control. He has no means of recouping such losses, which are as likely to affect rich irrigated crops raised by a large outlay of money and labour as the cheap millets and pulses grown on roughly-tilled lands, of which the yield is normally insecure. In the case of a total and irrecoverable loss of which no account was taken in the arrangement made at settlement between the supreme landlord, the State and the landholders, it is but  right that Government should forego its claim. Remission of the demand, rather than suspension, is required, and relief should be given to rich and poor alike because by the malignity of fortune the basis of  the arrangement between Government and the revenue-payers has been disturbed. Pending receipt of orders sanctioning remission, the Collector should himself order suspensions. In deciding whether relief is necessary or not, and adequate discrimination between the persons concerned will be secured if regard is had not merely to the field affected, but to the property or holding in which it lies. If the field is cultivated by the owner, and the loss is small compared with the total income of his whole  property, or if  it is cultivated by a tenant, and the loss is small compared with the total income of the holding, no relief need be given.

565.  Discrimination between holdings desirable. Fortunately hailstroms move in narrow, well defined lines, and the damage done by locusts is also likely to affect some holdings more than others. Relief therefore is as a rule required not for a whole estate, but only for particular holdings. The correct method of calculating remissions of land revenue necessitated by extraordinary calamities such as hailstorms, visitations of locusts, floods, and the like, is to apply the bachh rates worked out for each village concerned at settlement to the area actually damaged. No remission should be given if the amount so arrived at is less than one-fourth of the total land revenue of the holding.

566.  Floods affecting lands not usually inundated. Heavy floods which destroy crops on lands not usually subject to destructive inundation may be classed as “extraordinary” calamities. But in this case the question may arise whether the water which has ruined the husbandman’s hopes in the autumn will not secure to him an unusally large spring crop. If so, there is no call for remission, and even suspension may be unnecessary.

567.  Flooded lands under fluctuating assessment. The floods of the great rivers of the Punjab are so uncertain that, as already noted, it has in many cases been deemed wise to put the lands subject to  their influence under a fluctuating assessment. Where the demand is calculated by applying acreage rates to the area of crops harvested, no question of suspension or remission usually arises. If serious loss occurs before after the harvest inspection owing to some sudden calamity, such as a hailstorms or a flood, a special inspection and assessment should be made. In riverain villages a heavy flood sometimes sweeps away crops after they have been garnered. If the  damage is great, the loss should be estimated as well as possible, and a remission of part of the demand proposed. The amount to be remitted obviously should not exceed the revenue which would have been due on account of the area on which the crops that have been lost were grown. The yield per acre can be roughly determined, and the calculation then becomes a simple one. Where the assessment is partly fixed and partly fluctuating, it will be found that in a normal year the fixed part of the demand is not a large fraction of the whole. Even so, it may be prudent to suspend it in an exceptionally bad season, or when a succession of poor harvests has depressed the agriculturists. But mixed systems of assessment are not now much in favour.

568.  Relief to tenants. Section 30 of Punjab Tenancy Act (XVI of 1887) provides that in the case of tenants who pay fixed rent in cash or kind the order of a duly empowered revenue officer (Collector or Assistant Collector of the first grade see section 76(2) of the Act) is required to secure to the tenants the benefit of the relief granted to the Land Lords. A separate order of this description for each tenancy is not necessary. A general order may be passed  applicable to a whole estate or to an area in respect of which suspension or remission has been allowed. The matter is left to the discretion of the revenue officer. In considering whether he should pass an order suspending or remitting the payment of rent by a tenant-at-will, he should carefully consider whether the issue of such an order is desirable in the interests of both the parties; but more especially of the tenant.

(ii)  It will be observed that, when the Collector orders recovery of suspended revenue, any rent of which the payment has been suspended in consequence of the order suspending the revenue becomes realizable from the tenant. In the case of tenants who have not occupancy rights, landlords may find difficulties in realizing suspended rents.  The likelihood of such difficulties might constitute a special reason for the revenue officer refusing to pass an order suspending the rent when the revenue is being suspended, but such an order should be refused in very exceptional cases only.

(iii)  If a landlord collects from a tenant rent of which the payment has been remitted or is under suspension, section 30 gives the power to realize from the landlord, and refund to the tenant, the rent so realized , and it gives the further power of realizing from the landlord by way of penalty an amount equal to the rent so realized and refunded. It should be recognized that the power of imposing a panelty is to be used with some discrimination. A landlord might be willing enough to recognize the justice of requiring him to refund to a tenant rent which he had improperly realized, but might resent the imposition of the penalty and endeavour to visit his dissatisfaction on the tenant. In deciding whether the penalty should be imposed in any case, the revenue officer should consider the possible effects on the relations between the landlord and tenant; in many cases it would obviously be to the disadvantage of the tenant that the landlord should regard him as being the cause of his punishment. In the case of kind rents other than those mentioned above, no orders are required because, where the landlord takes a fractional share of the crop, the tenant gets relief automatically.

CAUTION :-  READ SEPARATE PARA FOR PUNJAB AND HARYANA

569.  Procedure in case of suspensions and remissions - The grant of suspensions is a matter within the discretion of the Deputy Commissioner. But the action taken must be reported at once to the Commissioner, who may cancel or modify the orders of his subordinate. The district suspension statement is forwarded to the Financial Commissioner for information after the Commissioner has recorded his orders on it and communicated them to the Deputy Commissioner. Even when the Deputy Commissioner thinks that remissions should be given at once, he ought as a first step to pass orders suspending the collection of the revenue. Commissioners may sanction immediate remission of land revenue in any harvest due to locusts, flood and hail and the like in the harvest for which the land revenue is due up to a limit of Rs. 1,000 per district. They may sanction remission of revenue which has been under suspension for more than three harvests (paragraph 576 infra), upto a limit of Rs. 10,000 for one harvest per district, if they are satisfied that since the revenue was suspended due diligence has been shown in collection. Remissions sanctioned by Commissioners must be  reported at once for the Financial Commissioner information. The Financial Commissioner may sanction remission without limit.

570.  Procedure in case of suspensions and remissions - The grant of suspensions is a matter within the discretion of the Deputy Commissioner. But the action taken must be reported at once to the Commissioner, who may cancel or modify the orders of his subordinate. The district suspension statement is forwarded to the Financial Commissioner for information after the Commissioner has recorded his orders on that and communicated them to the Deputy Commissioner. Even when the deputy commissioner thinks that remissions should be given at once, he ought as a first step to pass orders suspending the collection of revenue. The recovery of land revenue/land holding tax/abiana should be suspended forthwith by the deputy commissioner/executive engineer till final orders for remission are passed.

The deputy commissioner/executive engineer is competent to sanction remission of land revenue/land holding tax/abiana without limit.

The remission of land revenue/land holding tax/abiana shall be granted as follows:-

  1. where the loss exceeds 50%, there should be full remission of land revenue/land holdings tax/abiana except in case of abiana on suger-cane crop in which case the remission shall be 50%.
  2. Where the loss between 25% to 50%, the remission of land revenue/land holding tax/ abiana should be 75% except in case of abiana as on the crops of till, chillies, mash and maize sown in the month of august, in which case there shall be full remission.”

570A.   Suspended revenue usually realized - Though there are circumstances under which suspension ought to be merely a preliminary to remission, and others in which the attempt to collect arrears should after full trial be abandoned, the general rule is that suspended revenue shall be recovered whenever the return of better seasons permits. If the expectation that the landowners would in bad years meet their obligations from the stored-up surplus of past harvests has had in too many cases perforce to be abandoned, there is the more reason for recovering from the abundance of future years the amount which the State is compelled to forego in the present   (See the orders of the Government of India on the Rohtak Settlement Report (Revenue Proceedings of September 1882); also paragraphs 7 and 8 of Government of India circular No. 58, dated 18th October 1882). As in the case of suspensions, the Collector is required to take account of the value of  the crop harvested, as well as of  the area and outturn, so, in considering the extent to which recoveries of suspended revenue can be made, it is necessary not to overlook any rise in prices which may have occurred since settlement, and which may cause the value of the estimated produce of subsequent harvests to be materially greater than that which the settlement officer adopted for assessment purposes.

571.  Care required in recovery of arrears.- Prudence in the realization of suspended revenue is not less important than prudence in the grant of suspension,  and it is a matter in which mistakes are just as likely to occur. It has sometimes been asserted that landowners set no store by suspensions, coupled with an obligation to pay the arrears so created in the future. Where this feeling exists, it has generally sprung from past experience of ill-considered action in the matter of the recovery of balances. The old practice of fixing in the suspension order the instalments by which the arrear was to be liquidated was a direct encouragement to such action, and has therefore been forbidden.

572.  Instructions on subject.  Recovery of suspended revenue after famine.- The following instructions have been issued on the subjects :-

(1)  When, owing to famine or widespread calamity, suspension have been made on a large scale, the people affected should ordinarily be allowed to reap the full benefit to the first good crop or average harvest following the famine or calamity, and should be required to pay nothing for it beyond the current dues of the harvest, no arrears of revenue being collected until the second average crop subsequent to such a calamity as is now under contemplation has been reaped;

(2)  Limit in terms of land revenue.- For every district, and, where, necessary, for every tract in a district which has distinguishing physical features of its own affecting agriculture and the otturn of crops, a limit shall be prescribed in terms of the land revenue for the time being assessed within which suspended revenue may be collected with any instalment, in addition to the current demand. This will be fixed by the settlement officer at settlement with the sanction of higher authority, or, under special orders by the Deputy Commissioner with like sanction at other times. The rabi and kharif harvests, respectively, but must be fixed for each harvest.

(3)  Exceptions to rule (i).- It is recognised that there may be tracts where the first of these rules would be unnecessarily liberal owing to the leniency of the fixed demand and the exceptional fertility of the soil in good years. On the other hand, these circumstances will have been taken into account in fixing the limit  referred to in the second of the two rules. It may therefore conceivably be better in such a tract to collect  a small amount of suspended revenue with the first good or average crop after the calamity, and to take a somewhat smaller amount with the second. Proposals for limiting the operation of rule (i) should be included by settlement officer in the scheme for suspensions which it is their duty to drawn up(vide paragraph 554 of the  Settlement Manual), or should be made by the Deputy Commissioner, if at any time specially instructed in this behalf.

commentry

No special charge can be levied on Muabi Land.

573.  Differential treatment in collecting suspended revenue of rich and poor landowners - (1) When, owing to famine or widespread scarcity suspensions have had to be made on a large scale, no differentiation between rich and poor revenue payers will have been made, but in making proposals subsequently for their collection; differentiation between individuals may be necessary. A distinction should, in the first place, be drawn between the classes who cultivate the soil, whether as owner or as Government occupants or tenants, and the landlord class who hold estates which are cultivated by tenants. A man need not be excluded from the former class merely, because is holding is somewhat too large for him to cultivate himself and  a portion of it is in the hands of tenants, nor should the fact that a landowner who is in the main a rent receiver, cultivates his own home farm, transfer him from the latter to the former class; and it will not, as a rule, be difficult to distinguish the two classes with fair accuracy. Of course no discrimination between one kind of revenue payers and another should be made in the case of persons belonging to the cultivating class. But suspended revenue should always be collected form the classes of land- lords described in paragraph 562 supra if  the rent of their tenants has not to be remitted.

(ii)  Report on policy followed. In reporting his proposals to the Commissioner, the Collector should state briefly the policy he has followed, and in cases where he has made a difference between the rich and poor, the extent to which the difference has been made.

574.  Procedure in realization of arrears. A Deputy Commissioner is required, at least one month before the first instalment of the revenue of each harvest falls due, to consider the circumstances of every estate in which there are arrears due to suspensions and decide what portion, if any, of the balance can be recovered in,  addition to the demand of that harvest. He should issue the necessary orders, and put them in force. The orders, and the reasons for them are embodied in a statement which is sent to the Commissioner, who modifies them, if he thinks fit, and forwards the statement to the Financial Commissioner for information. It is for the Commissioner to see that the report of each district reaches him not later than one month before the first instalment of the land revenue falls due, and that it contains a sufficient explanation of the orders issued with reference to the circumstances of the current harvest.

575.  Remarks on the suspension of fixed land revenue and the remission and realization of arrears. In districts where suspensions are frequent it will usually be advisable for the Deputy Commissioner to meet, at each tahsil headquarters, the Sub-Divisional Officer or Revenue Assistant, the tahsildars, naib tahsildars, and in exceptional cases, important landholders of the area concerned, and discuss with them informally, zail by zail, the suspension, remission or collection papers. This will enable the Collector not only to know the villages of his district, but also to learn the worth  of his various assistant, official and non-official. In deciding what arrears, if any, can be collected, and to ensure the equitable working of the schemes prepared at settlement, the incidence of the current demand plus the arrears proposed to be realized on the area matured crops should be compared with the normal incidence in past years. (See columns 23 and 24 of the Abstract Village Note Book.) The office kanungo will check any statement made with regard to previous harvests or any other points raised, and, with the Settlement Officer’s notes and statistics contained in the village abstract note-books and Lal Kitab before him, the Collector will easily decide what each village can really pay, especially where he is able to correct his opinion by what he  or the Revenue Assistant or Sub-Divisional Officer has seen of the village in his tour. It is possible that new villlages may be mentioned, for which papers will need to be prepared. It is specially desirable to inspect villages where permanent deterioration may justify the remedy described in paragraph 582 below.

The amount to be recovered should always be expressed at so many annas in the rupee of the full demand of the harvest in regard to which the suspension was sanctioned. Collections should always be first applied to meet the current demand.

576.  Remission of arrears (i) It has been usual in the Punjab, in case of ordinary calamities of season, to suspend revenue first; and, if the experience of three years has proved that it cannot prudently be recovered within that time, to remit the arrears then outstanding Government has, however, now decided that the question of the remission of the outstanding arrears should be taken into consideration after the laps of three harvests if it has not been found possible to recover them during his period, not- withstanding due diligence on the part of the Collector. It should not however, be considered hard-and-fast rule that in the case of ordinary calamities, remission shall under no circumstances be given immediately, or, on the other hand, that all arrears must be wiped out which remain unrealized for three harvests. In unirrigated tracts with large holdings no harm will be done by keeping the account open for more than three harvests if care is taken to cover more than the current demand only when this can be done without hardship to the people. But large arrears ought not to be kept hanging over the heads of landowners for  an indefinite period. In future, in estates in which the land revenue has been suspended, and has not been recovered for three harvests, the crop statistics of those three harvests should be invariably examined with particular care at the next harvest, together with the statistics of that harvest and the Collector should decide whether any of the accumulated land revenue  can prudently be recovered and, if  so, how much, of whether any part of it should be remitted.

In connection with the working of the three harvests rule it is first necessary to make clear how the three harvests in question are to be calculated. The easiest way to do this is by a concrete example. Let it be assumed that a Collector is considering, when all the figures of the rabi 1930 crop are before him, whether he should propose any remissions of suspended revenue of preceding harvests. The latest harvest he can consider in this connection is kharif 1928.

But, however bad the intervening harvests may have been in the villages under consideration, if the greater part of the annual land revenue demand on them and of their annual cropping falls in the kharif, he should not propose any remission of land revenue suspended from kharif 1928, or earlier, with the rabi harvest 1930; he should wait till the following kharif to consider the matter seriously. To this point particular importance is directed.

If, however, the incidence both of annual land revenue demand and annual cropping of the villages in question is fairly equally divided between the kharif and rabi harvests, he should, when dealing with past arrears of suspended revenue, take the following points into consideration-

(a)  whether any money due on account of past suspended arrears for any harvest can be recovered with the present demand;
(b)  whether all or any part of those arrears should remain under suspension; or
(c)  whether he should recommend for remission any portion of the demand suspended from kharif 1928; no later.

And, in arriving at a decision on these important points, he should of course be guided by the settlement statistics of the village in question and their crop figures and other relevant statistics for the harvests from  kharif  1928 to rabi 1930. It may well be that, having done so, the Collector will decide not to recommend remission at once but to leave the arrears, even though  they may have been under suspension from kharif 1928, under suspension for yet another harvest or even more. Such a decision would be in no way contrary to these instructions. The principle object Government is aiming at in this matter is to prevent large burdens of suspensions accumulating against villages over a group of harvests.”

(ii)  General conditions regarding scale of remissions. In the case of fully-assessed tracts with an out-turn which is fairly constant, the amount of revenue under suspension at any given time should ordinarily be limited to the equivalent of the revenue demand of an ordinary year. In this case it would not follow that, when suspensions exceeded the limit, the whole amount suspended should be remitted, and, logically speaking, only the balance by which they were in excess should be so dealt with.  But, in the case of calamities so severe as to call for heavy suspensions, greater liberality than this will no doubt be desirable. An absolute and general rule that the amount under  suspension should never exceed a year’s  revenue would be open to objection; since there are many areas of fertile soil, where there is no irrigation and the rainfall is uncertain in amount, and where, on account of this uncertainty, the revenue is pitched so low, that in a really bumper year the people could pay very much more than the revenue assessed without the slightest inconvenience.

(iii) Special scale for districts. In deciding whether to propose the remission of the arrears of any particular harvest or harvests in an estate the Collector should consider-

(a)  the proportion  which the total of all outstanding arrears bears to the annual land revenue of the estate,
(b)  The length of time during which, not withstanding due diligence, the arrear of the particular harvest or harvests has remained outstanding.

In the case of closely-cultivated and fully-assessed tracts where the holdings are small, it will often be right, when the arrears exceed one year’s demand, to remit a portion of them, even though the arrears have not been outstanding for three harvests in the case of precarious barani tracts; where the surplus of good years is very large, and the revenue rates are low, the mere fact that arrears exceed one year’s demand, or have been outstanding for three harvests, is not a sufficient reason for remission. In such tracts  good and bad seasons often come in cycles, and the main point is to see that, in the case both of the current demand and of arrears, collections are only made of when the people have the wherewithal to pay. The details of these arrangements will be settled for each district in which suspensions on a large scale are likely to occur.

(iv)  Remission of arrears in the case of fluctuating and fixed assessments- When in any tract a system of fluctuating assessment is introduced at resettlement, it is usual to remit all outstanding balances of suspended land revenue on the ground that the new fluctuating assessment is supposed to be adapted to the assets of each harvest, and should not therefore, be increased. But, in the case of fixed assessment, this condition does not apply; and, although it is true that Government contemplates taking a certain sum within the term of years for which the settlement runs, this principle applies equally to the expiring as to the new, settlement. As regards fixed assessments, therefore, the only case in which the general principle that all arrears should be remitted on the introduction of a new assessment can be accepted is when the revision (whether of a tract or of an individual village) has resulted in a material reduction of the fixed demand. In such a case there is a practical admission that the previous demand was too high, and the arrears should invariably be remitted. All other cases will be dealt with on their merits, though; if proposals for remission are made immediately after a revision of assessment, they will be treated with somewhat greater leniency than in ordinary cases, especially in the case of estates which are themselves, apart from general seasonal calamities, weak estates. When reporting the collections of suspended revenue which he proposes to make with the rabi installment, the Deputy Commissioner should also report any recommendation he has to make regarding the remission of arrears.

577.  Control by Commissioner- The initiative, which the Deputy Commissioner exercises in regard to suspensions and the collection of  arrears is subject to the strict control of the Commissioner. The latter has necessarily a wide experience than most of his deputies, some of whom are sure to be very junior officers. The charge of divisions changes far less often than that of districts. A Commissioner, therefore, should be able to supply the ripe judgement and some times even the local knowledge which a subordinate may lack, and can exert his influence to ensure that the policy pursued in different districts, where similar conditions exist, shall follow broadly the same lines. If the question of suspension and of the recovery of arrears is fully discussed with Deputy Commissioners should be necessary, Government expects the Commissioner’s control of the matters dealt with in this chapter to be strict, and that he will not hesitate to modify the Deputy Commissioner’s orders, both as regards suspension, and collection, if they appear to be ill-considered or not in accord with the instructions on the subject. Where the crop has been markedly inferior, Commissioners should place themselves in close communication with their Collectors at an early period of the harvest with a view to determining what measures of relief generally will be necessary. This is particularly necessary in the case of junior officers and those who have not had much revenue experience.

578.  Suspension and remission of cases- It was formerly the practice in the Punjab that the suspension or remission of a part of the land revenue implied the suspension or remission of a corresponding fraction of the local rate. But in consequence of the orders contained in Government of India, Department of Revenue and Agriculture resolution No. 13-356-10 of 21st August, 1906, this has been changed. Under existing orders the local rate will no longer be proportionately suspended or remitted with suspensions or remission of land revenue. Except in a great emergency, or unless special measures in any particular case are required, the collection of the local rate will, subject to the exception noted below be made in full at harvest, suspension and remission falling on land revenue alone. Occasions may possible arise when the remission of the local rate will be inevitable but the intention is that under all ordinary conditions the local rate will be recoverable, notwithstanding the remission of the land revenue. But, when the land revenue demand in any estate has been entirely suspended or remitted, it will be convenient to suspend the collection of the local rate until the next collection of land revenue takes place. Under the provision of section 62 of the Punjab Land Revenue Act, 1887, the land revenue for the time being assessed on an estate or payable in respect of a holding, is the first charge upon the rents, profits and produce thereof, but as a matter of administrative convenience it has been decided that wherever there are collections of land revenue (including current demand) the local rate demand both current and arrears, will first be satisfied, the balance being credited to land revenue. Thus in all but the most exceptional circumstances, if the whole of the revenue is suspended or remitted, the local rate will be suspended; if only part of the land revenue is suspended, the local rate will be collected; and whenever any part of the land revenue is collected, the local rate account will be cleared. These orders do not affect the headman’s  pachotra1 .

 

1Financial Commissioner’s circular letter No. 3 dated 20th April, 1907, and Punjab Government notification No. 157-Revenue, dated 18th duly, 1907. See as to the village headman’s pachotra, paragraph 308, and as to the zaildar’s inam, paragraph 341 of this manual.

(2)  Local rate on fluctuating land revenue is calculated on the amount assessed according to rates fixed at settlement and therefore is not affected by the grant of special remission.

579.  Survey of Deputy Commissioner as regards detection of deterioration of estates- So far, we have dealing with evils of a temporary nature which can be met by resorting to suspensions, and in extreme cases to remissions of the demand of particular harvests. But, where estates are met with in which the revenue is always collected with difficulty, it is necessary to enquire whether some more drastic remedy is not wanted. The fact that the Director of Land Records is bound to specially watch tracts in which symptoms of deteriorating appear in no way absolves the Deputy Commissioner from the duty of himself  detecting at an early stage signs of decay in any part of his district whether in a single estate or in groups of villages, large or small. And, the fact of depression being proved a persistent endeavor must be made to find out and apply the proper remedy.

580.  Nature of enquiry- As regards each village affected, the first step to take is to study the settlement officer’s note concerning it and the grounds of its assessment. The next is to trace its later history, as evidenced by the annual statements, especially the area, crop and ownership statements, in the village notebook. The Deputy Commissioner may be fortunate enough to find remarks by some of his predecessors or their subordinates on the state of the village in their time1. Having  thus, got a clear idea of the facts so far as they have been recorded, and having heard what the tahsildar and the Revenue Assistant have to say, he will be in a position to make an enquiry on the spot. He may find-

(a)  that the demand imposed at settlement was from the first too high, and that there has been no growth of assets to make its present incidence fair;
(b)  that the demand was originally fair, but has ceased to be so because the assets have fallen off; or
(c)  that the demand is fair, and the difficulty lies in the character of the people or of the headmen.

1.  See paragraphs 404 and 407 of this manual.

581.  Reduction on account of over assessment-If the assessment of a tract as a whole has worked well, a prudent man will be slow to conclude that the settlement officer failed to gauge the resources of a particular estate. But, once he is satisfied that over assessment exists, he should not hesitate to report the fact and propose a reduction. To maintain an excessive demand is unjust to the people and discreditable to the administration. It is also the surest way of involving Government in ultimate pecuniary loss. There is a tendency to think that any revision of assessment, even though it affects but a single village, must be a difficult and intricate business. As a matter of fact, it ought to be extremely simple. This elaborate calculations of the value of one fourth net assets made at a general reassessment are out of place. It is enough to show that the demand is high compared with that of similar estates in the neighbourhood, whose fiscal history proves that they are properly assessed, and to lower it sufficiently to make its incidence fair as judged by that standard. Care should, however, be taken that the land revenue imposed on such land does not raise the total assessment of the circle in which it is situated to more than one fourth of the net assets of the circle.

582.  Action where difficulty springs from reduction of assets- Where an assessment originally just has become burden some through a fall in assets, the Deputy Commissioner should ascertain whether the deterioration is due to any lasting or incurable cause, or to one which the landowners can be helped to remedy. In the former case only will he propose to lower the revenue, with due regard to section 48B of the Punjab Land Revenue Act, 1887. Where the evil can be cured, it is his duty to nurse the estate, helping the landowners to effect improvements by the grant of takavi, and during the period of restoration suspending or proposing to remit, revenue in harvests in which relief is really required.

583.  Action where difficulty is due to misconduct of landowners- Where the assets are sufficient but the people are idle and bad revenue payers, they should be treated with firmness. The headmen may be the persons at fault. The action to be taken in such cases has been noticed in paragraphs 518 and 519 supra. If the headman can show that some of the shareholders are to blame, the coercive provisions of the Land Revenue Act should be firmly applied.

 

Hon'ble Revenue Minister

Hon'ble Minister-In-Charge
Shri. Gurpreet Singh Kangar

 


 

Special Chief Secretary, Department of Revenue, Rehabilitation and Disaster Mangement
Shri. Karan Bir Singh Sidhu, IAS

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