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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.

416.  Immedilate transfer of ownership on payment of compensation. The landowner or any of the landowners of an estate in which has been included land whose transfer qua propritary right has been suspended by order of the collector, may apply to him cancel his order and award compensation for the loss of their rights to the existing landowners it is within the collector’s discretion to accept or reject such an application.(section 101-c of the punjab land revenue act, 1887)

417.  Exclusion of jurisdiction of civil courts. By an addition to section 158 of the land revenue act questions connected with proceedings for the determination of boundaries under punjab act 1 of 1899 are excluded from the jurisdiction of civil courts(section 158(xviii)(a) of the punjab land revenue act, 1887)

418.  Procedure. The boundry in each case is laid down by the collector. in practice, the work has been done by settlement officers or special officers invested with the powers of a collector and working under the orders of the financial commissioner. No boundry line is deemed to have beenpermantly fixed till it has been approved by the financial commissioner.

419.  Amendment of regulation XI of 1825. Additions made to sections 2 and 3 of regulation xi of 1825 make thaat enactment of no effevt afrer a fixed boundary has been laid down.

420.  Cancelled.

421.  Jursidiction boundaries. In theory, there is no necessary connection between the boundaries of privare property and those of jurisdiction. In the case of thelatter, three kinds of riverain boundaries may bedistinguished-

(a) between districts in the same  administration.
(b) between two administration.
(c) between british administrations and indian States.

422.  Official opinion formely favoured deep-streakm fule pure and simple. The recognition of the iniquyity of the deepstream fule pure and simple as applied to theownership of land was quite compatible with the emphatic assertion kthat it ought to be enforcedas between district and district,and between and kthe punjab and indian States. The reason urged was that the boundaty of jurisdiction must be one kljthat could be quickly determine and easily recognized,conditions that were only satisfied by adopting as the line of demarcation the main channel for the time being.

423.  Deep-stream declared to kne the jurisdiction boundary along Sutlej in 1869.a notification published in 1869 declared the deep-stream of the sutlej to be the boundary between adjoining districts along its whole course. No similar notification has been issued as regards any of the other rivers in the punjab.the tendency in most places probably was to apply the same rule to the detemination of ownership and jurisdiction.

424.  Assimilation of boundaries of ownership and jurisdiction- The view that the deep-stream rule pure and simple was the only suitable one for the determination of district boundaries gained force from the difficulties and delays besetting the dicision of boundaries disputes between the landowners of riverain estates situated in the defferent districts. But it overlookd the inconvenience landowners were bound suffer from having to pay part of ther revenue in one district and part in anothr, and from being at the beck and the call of two sets of judicial, revenue and police official. The punjab government, therefore in 1889 accepted a proposal made by colonel wace to declare by notification that the boundaris of dirticts separated by rivers followed the boundaris of ownership in the boundary villages the deepstream being adopted where that was the peactice followed for frgulatingproprietary rights, and the rule of fixed boundaries being observed where the estateson opposite banks defined their rights of ownership thereby. To the notification relating to the different rivers, schedules were annexed giving the names of the boundry estates on their right and left banks. When such a notification has been published, action taken under Punjab Act 1 of 1899 to lay down fixed boundares for riverain estates also establishes permanent boundaries between the diatricts in which thay are situated.

425.  Boundary between Punjab and united provinces. The boundaty along the course of the jumma between the Punjab and the untied provinces is regulated by the deep-steam rule pure and simple in the panipat and Karnal tahsils of the Karnal district. But the boundary of jthe thanesar tahsil of Karnal, the jagadhri tahsil lkof Ambala and the Gurgaon district are fixed.


426.  Boundary of Punjab and Kashmir.  The boundary on the rivers Ravi and jhalum between the punjab and the Kashmir State is a fixed one.

427.  Advantages and defects of deep-stream rule pure and simple. But eisewhere the reasons whch were held to require the adpotion ofthe deep-stream rule pure and simple for the demaration of district boundaries applied with double force to the boundaries of the province and indian states. Assuming that the plan of fixed boundaries was impracticable, it was the only rule which made it pessible to settle the boundaries in whch indian States are cincered without endless trouble and interminable delays. But, on the other hand, the hardships towhich landowners were sunjected by a divergence between tne rules governing the limits of jurisdiction and private ownership were much increased whin the land was transferred,not from one British district to another, but from the punjab to an indian State.

428.  Deep-stream rule in extreme form given up. At frist the deep-stream rule in its extreme from prevailed. In accordance with it,eight astates were transferred in 1857 from the ferozeporedistrict to the Kapurthala State. But lord canning refursed to accpet Sir,john Lawrence’s suggestion that the rule adopted in that particular case should be accepted as a general one. In 1860 the Governor-Genral in council,in dealing with a case which concerned Bahawalpur,rejected a proposal to apply the deep-stream rule pure and simple,and declared that “it was incorrect to assume that as between Sovereigns the only safe rule of pracitice is that the main river should be the boundary, irrespective of all other considerations. The rule is such only in cases of alluvion and not in those of avlusion……. When a boundary rivers to sundally quits its and bed and cuts for itself a new channel,it ritory cut off by the changein the river continues to rule it.”This decision was approved by her Majesty’s Secretary of stete,and was declared to govern all cases which had occurred after the date,August 1860, at which it was given.

429.  Fixed boundaries adopted in cases of Kapurthala and Bahasalpure. The boundaries of indian States cannot belegally affected by punjab Act1 of 1899. But since ot was passed, a fixed boundary has been laid down by content between British orttitory and Kapurthala along the course of the Beas and the

Sutlej and  a similer line has been demerited  between the punjab and Bahawalpur along the Sutlej and rhe indus. Thus a content  source of trouble has been removed.

430.  Special revision of assessment in riverain villages. The action of the seven great rovers of the punjab and of the numerous torrents which issue from the hills renders the assets of the estates on their banks very unstable. It is therefore imperative that some means should exist by which the land revenue demand of such villages can be revised form time to rime. It was ultimately found that in some large tracts the changes caused by the rivers were so frequent and so extreme that nothing would serve but theabandonment of a fixed assessment altogether in favour of a fluctuating one which involved the reassessment of the whole demand harvest by harvest. But elsewhere it has been prossible to tetain the fixed demand providing for its annual revision as regards those parts only of villages which have been lost system prevailed throughoutthe province ofr many years after annexation, and it is still in force in a large part of it.

431.  Cancelled.
432.  Cancelled.
433.  Cancelled.

434.  Existing order. The following orders have been issued for general guidance in conformity with section 59 of the land revenue act:-

“(1) where land of an astate paying  land  revenue is injured of improved by the action of water or sand, the land revenue due on the astate under the current assessment shall be reduced of increased in conformity with the instructions issued from time to time in this behalf  by the Financial commissioner.and in every such caes the distribution fo the land revenue over the holding over the holdinb of the astate shall be revised so as to similarly reduce of increase the sum payable in respect of the halding in which the land that has been injured of improved os situated.

435.Supersession of general by special local rules. The defects in the old assessment rules are pointed out in the 455th paragraph of the settlement Manual. These defects have led to their supersession in many districts by special rules drawn up by settlement officers to suit the circumstances of each locality. The main fearuers of these newrules are described in the paragraph of the settlement Manual cited above. In the 26th of the standing orders issued in 1910, general rules under section 59(c) of act xvii of 1887 have been issued as instructions if the financial commissioner to be followed where no special rules have been sanctioned.

436.  Close supervision of alluvial assissments required. The special local rules not only prescribe rates of assessment, but also explain the procedure to be followed in bringing to record the loss and gain due to river action. But, however perfect the system on paper, its working in practicemust always remain a delicate matter,in which the work of the tahsildar and has subordinates must be clisely supervised by the superior revenue staff of the district.

437.  General instructions. The measurements in which these yearly revision of assessment mustbe based occupy a good deal of time, and must be started in rivetain circles as soon as the patwari has finkshed the kharif crop inspection, written up the mutations which have come to light in thecourse of it and perpared the annual bachh papers. Every village in which any change of assessment is required must be inspected by the Deputy commissioner or by one of has assistant or Extra assistant commissioners. Of course the bulk of this work falls to the revenue assistant,but,where it is heavy,part of it sould be made over tosome other mimber of the crop inspection, written up the mitations which have come to light in the course of it and prepared the annual bachh papers. Every village in which any change of assessment is required must ne inspected by the deputy commissioners of by one of his assistant or Extra assistant commissioners. Or course the bulk of this work falls to the revenue assistant, but where it is heavy part of it should be made over to someother member of the headquarters staff the final order as to each astate must be passed by an assistant collector of the 1st grede and officers of higher class.

438.  Annual returns. An abstract statement of the changes due to alluvion and diluvion is sent to the commissioner in the middle of April. A divisional abstract compiled from these district returns is submitted to the financial commissioner. The orders passed on it are the authority for making the necessary changes in the land-revenue roll.


Hon'ble Revenue Minister


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

Sh.  K A P Sinha, IAS

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