Chapter XII. Record-of-Rights and Settlement of Rent
Object of a survey and record-of-rights:
The special objects, for which the settlement operations in Chota Nagpur were undertaken to:- the preparation of reliable maps of estates, tenures and holdings the protection of the aboriginal tribes against designing landlords, the fixation of the amount (Rakumats, Ahwabs, and Begari) and their commutation into fixed cash payments, and the recording of local usages and customs.
The record-of-rights as finally published shall consist of the Khewat or abstract of the rights-of-proprietors and tenure-holders, the Khatian in which is contained the record of the rights and liabilities of each tenancy.
Class to which each tenant belongs, i.e., to say, whether he is a tenure-holder, Mundari khuntkattidar, Settled Raiyat, Occupancy Raiyat, Non-occupancy Raiyat, Raiyat having khuntkatti rights, or under Raiyat, and, if he is a tenure holder, whether he is permanent tenure-holder or not, and whether his rent is liable to enhancement during the continuance of his tenure.
Raiyats’ Customary Rights in Jungle and Waste:
The customary rights of the Raiyats of the village to take wood and fuel for bona-fide domestic purposes from the village jungles have been ascertained by the officers of the Settlement Department in Ranchi and Singhbhum districts. The Raiyats in both the district possess the customary right to take wood for fuel and domestic purposes, sufficient for their reasonable requirements. The right is, however, subject to well recognized restrictions. The Raiyats cannot cut certain valuable trees, such as Mahua, Karanj, Asan, Piasal, Tamarind, Jamun, Mango, Kusum, Paras, nor can they cut any Sakhua trees beyond a certain girth, i.e., about 11/2 cubits or 27 inches in circumference, at a height of about 3 feet from the ground, unless they are required for the preparation of agricultural implements, ploughs, etc.
These customary rights would appear to have existed from very ancient times, and appear to have been universal in Chota Nagpur.
In few villages, however, the Zamindars have succeeded in establishing their exclusive rights in small Jungles or Patras. In Ranchi district, these Jungle preserves are called “Rakhawat” to distinguish them from those in which the Raiyats are allowed to cut wood, which are called “Katawat”.
These customary rights no doubt had their origin in a time, when the village lands were common. In English law such rights are a kind of “rights in common”, known in Saxon as Bates or the right to cut wood for fuel, for the repair of hedges, and for making instruments of husbandry, called respectively firebate, hedgebate, and ploughbate. They are profits a prendre and not easements, and under the Indian Law would appear clearly to amount to an interest in immovable property. These rights cannot, therefore, be extinguished by less than 12 years prevention and exclusion. A custom to be valid must, however, be reasonable. The claim which is sometimes made by Raiyats to the rights of cutting wood for sale or in indefinitely large quantities is not reasonable, and the custom even where it exists would appear to be invalid as against the landlord. The unrestricted use of Sal Saplings for fencing results in much waste and destruction of valuable property; and, when other material is available for the purpose, as is usually the case, the practice would appear to unreasonable, and the custom is consequently invalid. Jungle fruits and fruits of trees growing in the waste lands belong to the village community.