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Tenancy Reforms


The securities provided in the earlier Tenancy Acts, viz (i) The Goalpara Tenancy Act, 1929 applicable to Permanently Settled Areas of Goalpara, (ii) The Sylhet Tenancy Act, 1936 applicable to Permanently Settled Areas of Karimganj Sub-Division, (iii) The Assam (Temporarily Settled District) Tenancy Act, 1935 applicable to the Temporarily Settled Areas of all Plain Districts, and (iv) The Assam Adhiars Protection and Regulation Act, 1948 have been found to be inadequate inspite of the fact that the first two Acts have been amended in the meantime to bring the share-croppers and Nankars, Chakran (servants engaged in cultivation) within the definition of tenents so as to enable them to enjoy the protection of the Tenancy Acts. So, it was felt necessary to enact a new tenancy law applicable initially to the temporarily settled areas with adequate provisions under which the State Government could extend it to the erstwhile permanently settled areas in due course by replacing the Tenancy Acts and the Adhiar Act. Accordingly, the Assam (Temporarily Settled Areas) Tenancy Act, 1971 was enacted. This Act repeals the Assam (Temporarily Settled District) Tenancy Act, 1935 and the Assam Adhiar Protection and Regulation Act, 1948.

The features of this Act are as follows:

  • Share-Croppers will be treated as Tenants.
  • Right of Occupancy will accrue on occupation for 3 years as against 12 years prescribed in earlier laws.
  • There will be only two classes of tenants as against 5 classes under the previous law.
  • Maximum of rent both in cash and in kind has been provided.
  • Government have been given the power to acquire the Right of Ownership and the Intermediary Rights for an Occupancy Tenent to acquire such right by depositing the compensation.
  • Occupancy Tenants are protected aginst eviction whereas the Non-Occupancy Tenants can be evicted on breach of specified conditions through due process of law.
  • Unauthorised eviction in the form of voluntary surrender has been prohibited.
  • Eviction without the orders from the Court has been barred.
  • Illegaly ejected Tenants will be restored possession through Revenue Officers.
  • A limited right to mortgage has been given to Non-Occupancy Tenants to obtain credit from the recognised Financial Institutions for agriculture.

In order to extend this Act in the former permamnently settled areas of Goalpara District and Karimganj Sub-Division, a Bil, namely, the Assam Land Holding (Adoption of relationship under the Assam Land Revenue Regulation, 1886 in the acquired permanently settled estates) Bill, 1974 has since been passed by the State Legislature. The Bill after becoming an Act will repeal the Goalpara Tenancy Act, 1929 and the Sylhet Tenancy Act, 1929 and enforce the Assam (Temporarily Settled Areas) Tenancy Act, 1971 in the erstwhile permanently Settled areas.

To make the land reforms programme effective, there should be some close organisational links with the potential beneficiaries. The poor peasant and agricultural labourers are still unorganised and not vocal and hence not assertive. It has to be considered whether the formation of Peasant Organisation Circlewise/ Panchayatwise should not be given a trial. Such organisation on non-political and voluntary basis could put some curb on the influential land owners who are always in the lookout to protect their own interest at the cost of the poor peasantry. Such voluntary organisations will be better equipped to represent the case of the beneficiaries in the updating of records, and selection of the genuine landless agriculturists for the settlement of land, and detection of under tenancy.

The Agricultural Universities sprawling out in different parts of the country may also render service in the matter of land reforms. The graduates coming out of such Universities should be acquainted with the latest reforms measures and they in turn can spread the message of agrarian reforms and where necessary, take leadership of the peasants with whom they will be in constant contact.

Tenancy Reforms- DLRAR, Assam