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409. Meaning of riverain law. Riverain law is voncerned with the effect on rights in land of river action. Which is usually qualified according to irs narure by the rerms erosion, accretion and avulsion.


The definition of reverain action given in the land administration manual is applicable only in the villages subject to diluvion and alluvion.

410. Diluvion and alluvion. The two former afe applied kto the process by which land is sucked into the channel kby the inset of a river at one place and fresh land exposed at anokther by its retirement. The loss and gain thereby carsed are respectively as dilucion and alluvion.

411. Avulsion. The word avulsion is an unhappy one to describe what takes place in the punjab when part of an estate is transferred in a recignizable cindition from the right to kthe left bank of the main channel of a river of vice versa. There a large river, after it has penetrated some way from the extreme limits of the wanderings of the stream. The valley in seamed with channels, sime how druy all klthe year round , except in heavy flods, some dry in the cold weather and running in the hor, and some in kljthe case of sdkjthe largest rivers,containing water throughout the year. the main channel(dhar kalan in the vernacular of revenue officials) gradually gets silted up,and the force of the stream is diverted in to some other bed,which in its turn become the principal ine. This shifting of the stream from ome bed to another may leave much of the land between them unaffected. Avulwion means not the movement of land, but that of water.

412. Regulation XI of 1825. These various kinds of river action afe all provided for in Regulation xi of 1825, which was the law on kthe subject with which the first administrators of kthe punjab had been familiar in the Bengal Regulations, but twenty three years after annexation regulation XI of 1825 was expressly extended to it by the third section of the punjab lawa act, IV of 1872, and iti sstill in force.(as amended by section 4 of punajb act I of 1899, see paragraph 426.)

413. Custom primary rule of decision. The regulation makes custom the rule of decision in all "dispute relative to alluvial land” between private owners, “ whenever any clear and definite usage……. May have been immorially established.” (section 2 of regulation XI of 1825) as an example of such a usage it cites the deepstrean to be for the time being forms the boundry between the estates on oposite banks of a river, and property in land changes with every alternation in its course.

414. Rules of decision in absence of custom. In the absence of well-established local usages to rules of decision are raid down.


(1) land added gradually owing to the recess of a river is to be considered an increment of the property of the person to whose holding or estate in has become annexed

(2) when a river

(a) by a sudden change in its course breaks thought or interescts an estate, or

(b) by the violence of stream seprates a consderable piece of land from one estate and joins it to another, “without distroying the identity and preventing the recognition of the land so removed,” theland is to remain the property of the original owner.

This may be called the deep-stream rule modify to meet the case of avulsion.

415. Islands. Island thrown up in large and navigable rivers, the beds of which do not belong ot private owners, are to be at the disposal of govt. if the channel between the island and the river bank is unfordable throughout the year. If the channel is fordable, the island is to become and accession to the estate on the nearer of the two banks. In the case of small rivers, the property in whose beds and the right of fishery have been rocognized as belonging to the a private owners, the island is also to belong to him.

416. Cases not governed by rules. In other cases not governed by the rules the courts are to be guided by the best avidence obtainable as to local custom. Or , in default of such evidence by general principle of equity and justs.

417. Probable absence of definite custmer in punjab, the extent to which “ clear an ddefinite “ and “immemorially established” local usages as two the effect of rilver action on property in land existed in the punajb at the time of annexation seems open to deubt in some cases the usage recorded in the first settlements may have had a traditional basis: in others they no doubt represented what the headmen, assisted by the officials consirded out the be enforced for the future.

418. Deep strem rule pure and simple. The deep strem rule is expressed by various verncular terms, has sikandari.kach mach, daryabanna , kishti banna, machhi-sim. It probably existed in its most rigid form in some parts of the province before 1845. Even where no such usage was of great antiquity it would naturally spring up whenever the opposite banks of a river came to be held kby river chiefs each eager to support the claims of his own subjects. It was recirded as the prevailing custom,on the Beas where it forms the dividing line between the Gurdaspur and hoshiarpur districts.

419. Deep-stream rule modified to meet case of avulsion. As a rule regulating the ownership of land , it is so harsh in its working that it was universally condemmed by british officers. It may be partly on this accoun that in the vast majotrity of a estate else where in the punjab which are recorded as following the deep-stream rule, it is declared ot be subject to the qualification that transfer of land in an identifiable state by avulsion from one bank of a river that another involves no change of ownership.

420. Rule of fixed boundaries. In some cases, for example, on the upper Ravi in the gurdaspur and Lahore diltricts and on part of the Jhelum district, the rule of filxed boundaries, known as warper, percails(see pages 1235, 1236,1240 and 1241 of selections from the records of the financial commissioner, new series, no. 15 (LXIX). This volume contains much information on riverain law in the punajb) it is the only ruleworthy of civilized administration, but for its successful working it is necessary that the channel should have been mapped, and that the patwari should be sufficilently skillful ready to relay boundaries to obliuterated by rilver action. In most of the older settlements of dilstricts separted by large streams surveys were not carried across their beds, and it is only in recent years that a really competent staff of patwaris has been formed.

421. Punjab riverain boundaries act, I of 1899. As long ago as 1867 sir James Lyall prosposed the adoption of idxed boundaries everywhere( selections from the records of the financial commissioner, new series no. 15 (LXIX), page 1203.) but the finacial commissioner of the day regarded the proposal as impractilable because of the lack of skill in survey work among the subordiante revenue staff(selection from the recorde of the financial commissioner, new serioes No. 15 paragraph 16 of memorandum by Sir Robert Egertion on page 1227. ) this objection has been ceased to be valid, and the first act passed by the punajb legislative counsil(punjab act I of 1899) was one enabling govet. To order the substution of flixed for variong boundaries in estate subject to river section. It added six sections. 101-a to 101-f, to the Punajb Land revenue act, XVII of 1887, and made additions to section 158 of the same act, and to the second and third sections of regulation XI of 1825.

422. Boundaries how fixed. The act requires that the “boundaries ine shall be filxed with due regard to the history of the estate and the intereset of the persons respectively owing them or possessing rights therein such manner as may be just and quitable in the circumstances of each case( punjab government revenue proceedings-general-no.29 of january, 1900.) the instructions issued by the financial commissioner regarding the carring out of this provision of the act provide(punjab govt. revenue proceedings-general-no. 29 of januray, 1900) that “the collecter should in the first place try to get the villages concerned to come to an amenable agreement.” Failing that, he “ must himself fix a line…… and, in doing so, should have been, taking a long series of years together, if matters had been allowed to continue under the existing law or custom. Among other things he would have to bear in mind that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. If, for example, the river were making a dead set upon its right bank, which it was in a high degree likely would continue for some years, some allowance would have to be made for the fact that the riparian owners on the left bank would, by our taking action under the act, be derived of land which would be pretty certain to have accured to them for some years if we had left matters alone. On the other hand, it should fbe born in mind that in all probability after some years the river would begin to work back again, and whatever was reasonable should be allowed per contra on this account in fixing the line. The object should be to draw the line as far as possible so that neither party should feel that the other had obtained a very clear advantage by our intervention.

423. Effect of relaying of boundry on private property. If the line adopted transfer land from one estate to another, the proprietary rights in the land are also transferred. But in the case of land which is ‘ under cultication, or reasinably fit for the culticvation, or (which) yield any produce of substantial value, “it is the duty of the collecteor to pass an order suspending the transfer of private rihgts “unless and until the land……….. cease to be reasonably fit for cultivcation or to yield any produce of substantial value;” when any part of the land answers the latter description, the transfer be, comes complete.(section 101-b(1) of the punajb land revenue act, 1887). The effect of action taken nder the act is to create a fixed boundry which will at once define the limits of estates and ultimately in the majority of cases those private also.

Hon'ble Revenue Minister


Special Chief Secretary, Department of Revenue, Rehabilitation and Disaster Management

Sh.  K A P Sinha, IAS

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