B. Lewis (Benjamin Lewis) Rice.

Mysore: a gazetteer compiled for government (Volume 1) online

. (page 72 of 98)
Online LibraryB. Lewis (Benjamin Lewis) RiceMysore: a gazetteer compiled for government (Volume 1) → online text (page 72 of 98)
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In the fourth and fifth years they were reduced to 15,247 persons, and
the expense to 148,478 Kanthiraya pagodas ; and this amount was
considered by the Divan to be nearly as low as it could with jirudenre
be reduced.

The lineal descendants and familiLS of several of the most powerful
Palcgars were destroyed in the general massacre of prisoners which was
ordered by Tipu Sultan subsecjuently to the defeat of his army by
Lord Cornwallis on the 15th May 1792. A few persons who preferred


the chance of future commotions to a suitable and respectable pro-
vision, retired from the country ; a still smaller number, of refractory
conduct, were imprisoned : but the greater proportion accepted
gratuitous pensions, civil offices, or military command, on the condition
of residing at Mysore, or accompanying the Divan when absent from
that place. The expedient of assassinating an Ami! was resorted to at
an early period ; but the police had even then assumed so efficient a
form that all the murderers were traced and executed, and this savage
experiment was not renewed.

The revolutions which had occurred at an earlier or more recent
period in every district of Mysore, do not seem to have altered the
tenures on which the lands were held by the actual cultivators of the
soil. With the exception of Bednur and Balam, the general tenure
of land may be described to be " the hereditary right of cultivation,"
or the right of a tenant and his heirs to occupy a certain ground so
long as they continue to pay the customary rent of the district ; but
as in the actual condition of the people the rent can only be paid while
the land is cultivated, it is apparently held that the right no longer
exists than while it is thus exercised : and when the tenant ceases to
cultivate, the right reverts to the Government, which is free to confer it
on another.

In the provinces of Bednur and Balam, the property of the soil is
vested in the landholder ; and the hereditary right of succession to that
property is held in as great respect as in any part of Europe. The
rents being paid in money, and the officers of Government having no
further interference with the ryots than to receive those rents, the
tenure of land in those provinces is highly respectable. This venerable
institution of hereditary property and fixed rents is attributed to
Sivappa Nayak, and the rent established by him is said to have con-
tinued without augmentation until the conquest by Haidar Ali ; there
is reason, however, to believe that under the form of contributions to
defray the expense of marriages and aids on extraordinary occasions,
the rent actually paid was considerably enhanced. JNIilitary service was
at all times a condition of the tenure.

On the conquest of Bednur by Haidar Ali in the year 1763, he at
first attempted to conciliate the principal landholders ; but having dis-
covered a conspiracy to assassinate him, supported by the landholders
and headed by the chief officers of the late government and some of
his own confidential servants, he proceeded, after the execution of not
less than 300 persons, to disarm landholders, and to commute their
military service for a money payment, holding the country in sub-
jection by means of an establishment of 25,000 foreign peons. This


assessment of the lands continued without alteration until the peace
of 1792, which deprived Tipu Sultan of one-half of his territories, and
suggested to him the singular expedient of compensating that loss by a
proportional assessment on his remaining possessions. This measure,
in Bednur as well as elsewhere, produced an effect exactly the converse
of what was intended; and, added to other abundant causes, terminated
in the absolute ruin of his finances.

On the establishment of the new government of Mysore, the land-
holders of Bednur attempted to stipulate for the restoration of the
ancient rates of land-tax of Sivappa Nayak, and the remission of the
pecuniary commutation of military ser\ice established by Haidar Ali.
It was ascertained in Bednur, and it is believed also in Canara, that
the commutation fixed by Haidar was fair and moderate : the rates
of 1764 were accordingly adopted as the fixed land-tax, and continue
apparently to give satisfaction.

The province of Balam was never effectually conquered until
military roads were opened through the forest towns by the Honourable
Major-General Wellesley in the year 180 1-2. The authority of Haidar
Ali, or of Tipu Sultan, over this province, was extremely precarious ;
and the presence of an army was always necessary to enforce the pay-
ment of the revenue. The rates of the land-tax had accordingly
fluctuated, but were fixed by the new government at a standard which
appeared to be acceptable to the landholders.

The Divan appeared to have an adequate conception of the advan-
tages, both to the ryots and the government, of a system of hereditary
landed property and fixed rents, over the more precarious tenures which
prevailed in other parts of Mysore. And throughout the country he
generally confirmed the property of the soil to the possessors of planta-
tions of areca, cocoanut, and other plants which were not annual. The
exceptions to this latter measure principally applied to gardens and
plantations which had gone to decay under the late government from
over-assessment ; and to those which had recently been formed and did
not yet admit of the adjustment of a fixed rent. He showed a general
disposition to accede to the proposals of individuals for fixing the rents
and securing the property on every description of land ; but he did not
press it as a measure of government, which the ryots habitually receive
with suspicion, and held the opinion that people must be made
gradually to understand and wish for such a measure before it could be
conferred and received as a benefit.

The whole of the revenue is under amani management. The culti-
vators of dry lands pay a fixed money rent, calculated to be equal to
about one-third of the crop ; and those of the wet or rice lands, a pay-


ment, nominally in kind, of about one-half of the crop; but generally
discharged in money at the average rates of the district, which are
adjusted as soon as the state of the crop admits of an estimate being
made of its value. When the Amil and ryots cannot agree on the
money payment, it is received in kind. The precarious nature of the
rice cultivation in the central and eastern parts of Mysore makes it
difficult to remedy this very inconvenient practice ; and it has hitherto
been found impracticable to adjust any money rents for wet cultivation
in those parts of the country. In the western range some farmers have
made the experiment of a money rent for rice-ground, but the waram
or payment in kind is generally found so much more profitable, by the
facility it affords of defrauding the government, that the adjustment of
money rents for that description of land is not making much progress.

The civil government is divided into three departments : ist, Treasury
and Finance ; 2nd, Revenue ; 3rd, Miscellaneous, not included in the
two former. The conduct of the military establishment is entrusted to
two distinct departments, of Cavalry and Infantry. The Kandachar,
or establishment of peons already described, is under the direction of a
sixth separate department, partaking both of civil and military functions,
in its relation to the police, the post-office, and the army. The Divan
may be considered personally to preside over every department.

The operations of the financial department are extremely simple.
Each district has its chief goUa, who keeps the key of the treasury ; the
sheristedar has the account, the Amil affixes his seal ; and the treasury
cannot be opened except in the presence of these three persons. The
saraf examines the coins received on account of the revenue, affixes his
seal to the bags of treasure dispatched to the general treasury, and is
resi^onsible for all deficiencies in the quality of the coin. A similar
process, sanctioned by the sealed order of the Divan, attends the dis-
bursement of cash at the general treasury ; and the accounts are kept
in the same style of real accuracy, and apparent confusion, which is
usual in other parts of India.

The miscellaneous department, together with several indefinite
duties, comprises two principal heads, viz., first, the regulation of the
Raja's establishment of state, and of his household ; and secondly, the
custody of the judicial records.

In the administration of justice, as in every other branch of the
government, due regard has been given to the ancient institutions of
the country, and to the doctrines of the Hindu law. There is no
separate department for the administration of justice in Mysore, with
the exception of khazis in the principal towns, whose duties are limited
to the adjustment of ecclesiastical matters among the Muhammadan


inhabitants. Matters of the same nature among the Hindus are usually
determined according to mdmiil or ancient precedent, and where there
is no maniill by the doctrine of the shastras, if any can be found to

The Amil of each taluq superintends the department of police, and
determines in the minor cases of complaint for personal wrongs ; the
establishment of Kandachar peons gives great efficiency to this depart-
ment. Three Subadars, for the purposes of general superintendence,
have been established over the respective provinces of Bangalore,
Chitaldroog and Bednur; and these officers direct the proceedings in
all important cases, criminal and civil. On the ajjprehension of any
persons criminally accused, the Subadar or the Amil, if he sees cause
for public trial, orders a panchayat, or commission of five, to be
assembled in open cutcherry ; to which all inhabitants of respectability,
and unconnected with the party, have the right of becoming assessors.
The proceedings of this commission, in which are always included the
defence of the prisoner, and the testimony of such persons as he
chooses to summon, are forwarded to the Divan, accompanied by the
special re{)ort of the Subadar or Amil. In cases of no doubt, and
little importance, the Divan makes his decision on the inspection of
these proceedings. In matters of difficulty, or affecting the life or
liberty of the prisoner, the case is brought for final hearing before the
Divan, who pronounces his sentence, assisted by the judgment of the

The administration of civil justice is conducted in a manner
analogous to that of the criminal. The proclamation which announced
a remission of all balances of revenue, among other benefits which it
conferred on the people of Mysore, shut up the most productive source
of litigation. The Amil has the power of hearing and determining, in
open cutcherry, and not otherwise, all cases of disputed property not
exceeding the value of five pagodas. Causes to a larger amount are
heard and determined by a panch:iyat compo.sed as al)ove described :
and as publicity is considered to afford an important security against
irregular or partial proceedings, the respectable inhabitants are
encouraged to attend as assessors, according to their leisure and con-
venience. In cases where both the parties arc Hindus, the panchdyat
is usually composed of Hindus ; where the parties are of different sects,
the panchayat is formed of two persons from the sect of each party, and
a fifth from the sect of the defendant. In plain cases, where no differ-
ence of opinion has occurred in the panchayat, the Amil confirms their
award, and forwards their proceedings to the Presence. In of
difficulty, or variety of opinion, the proceedings are forwarded with the


report (jf the Subadar or Amil, to the Divan, who pronounces a final
decision in communication with the Resident ; or, if he sees cause,
orders a re-hearing before himself. In all cases whatever, the parties
have the right of appeal to the Divan ; and his frccjuent tours through
the country facilitate the practice of this right.

The form of proceeding in civil cases differs materially from the
practice of English courts.

Before the trial commences, the plaintiff tirst, and then the defendant, are
each required to give a circumstantial narrative of the transaction which
involves the matter at issue ; this narrative is carefully committed to writing,
and twice read over to the party, who corrects what has not been properly
stated ; the document is then authenticated by the signature of the party, of
two witnesses, and of a public officer. The correct agreement of this narra-
tive with facts subsequently established, is considered to constitute strong
circumstantial evidence in favour of the party, and its disagreement with any
material fact to amount to the presumption of a fictitious claim or false
evidence. The Hindu law seems indirectly to enjoin this branch of the
proceeding. Testimony is received according to the religion of the witness,
first for the plaintiff, and then for the defendant ; and the members of the
panchdyat, or assessors, and the witnesses called for the purpose, depose to
matters of general notoriety. The panchdyat, in cases of difficulty, usually
prefix to their award a few distinct propositions, explaining the grounds of
their decision, which generally seem to be drawn with considerable sagacity.
But the object in which the principles of proceeding differ most essentially
from those of an English court is in the degree of credit which is given to
the testimony upon oath. It appears to be in the spirit of English juris-
prudence to receive as true the testimony of a competent witness until his
credibility is impeached. It is a fixed rule of evidence in Mysore to suspect
as false the testimony of every witness until its truth is otherwise supported.
It follows as a consequence of this principle, that the panchayats are anxious
for the examination of collateral facts, of matters of general notoriety, and
of all that enters into circumstantial evidence ; and that their decisions are
infinitely more influenced by that description of proof than is consistent
with the received rules of evidence to which we are accustomed, or could be
tolerated in the practice of an English court.

The administration of the revenue is committed, under the control
of three principal Subadars, to Amils presiding over taluqs sufficiently
limited in extent to admit a diligent personal inspection of the whole of
their charge ; the number of these taluqs has varied, as convenience
seemed to require, from ii6 to 120.

[Each taluq is divided into Hoblis, which pay from 4,000 to 9,000
pagodas. These are managed by a set of officers who are interposed
between the Amildars and Gaudas. The head person of a Hobli is
called a Parpatti, and by the Musalmans a Shekdar. He visits every


village to see the state of cultivation and of the tanks, and settles dis-
putes that are above the reach of the Gaucla's understanding. In this
he is always assisted by the advice of four old men. He ought not to
inflict any corporal punishment without the orders of the Amildar.
The Parpatti receives the rents from the Gaudas and transmits them to
the Amildars. Most of these officers are Brahmans ; very few are
Sudras. In each Hobli there arc two accountants, called Gadi
Shanbh6gs, but by the Musulmans named Sheristadars. Until Tipu's
tiine these officers were hereditary, and they ha\e always been Brah-
mans. In each Hobli, for every 1,000 pagodas rent that it pays, there
is also a Manigdr, or Tahsildar as he is called l)y Musalmans.
These are the deputies of the Parpatti to execute his orders. They also
an5 all Brahmans. The whole of the Hobli establishment is paid by
monthly wages.]

The Divan enters in a separate account ancient allotments of land
to the local institutions of the hamlets and villages (involving a detail
of 41,739 objects and persons, and an annual expense of 89,489
pagodas), and excludes the amount in the first instance from the
account of the gross revenue, as it can never become an available
source of supply.

The four distinct heads of revenue are вАФ Land-tax, Sdyar, Toddy and
spirituous liquors, and Tobacco.

The head of land-tax comprises, besides the objects which it
describes, the house-tax and the plough-tax, being an impost, varying
in different districts according to ancient practice, of about the average
rate of one Kanthiraya fanam annually on each house and i>l

Online LibraryB. Lewis (Benjamin Lewis) RiceMysore: a gazetteer compiled for government (Volume 1) → online text (page 72 of 98)