(b) Land Reforms

 

The main cause of social instability in the predominantly agricultural societies is the agrarian discontent due to the continuance of a system of land tenure which is completely out of place in the modern world. Thus land reforms are undertaken in order to promote, on the one hand, the well- being and contentment of the individual owner and, on the other, the stability of the society. Generally, land reforms impinge upon a number of agrarian problems such as the methods of farming, land use, the distribution of land ownership and the legal and customary institutions of land tenure, and the rural social conditions and the political forces which work for and against social change. These land reforms in the end aim at bringing about a better distribution of income and a broader in the end aim at bringing about a better distribution of income and a broader social equality.

 

The relationship between the landlord and the tenant, based on old-time traditional beliefs, had been, for a long time, getting strained to the detriment of both agricultural and the cultivator. Attempts have, therefore, been made to put the relationship on a statutory basis, eliminating altogether the intermediaries. Thus, the Punjab Tenancy Act, 1887 ( Act XVI of 1887 ) was enacted. It provided for the refularization of the right of occupancy. This right was, however, restricted to a small number of tenants. Under the provisions of the Act, a tenant, to qualify for the right of occupancy, must have held at revenue rates for 30 yerars, or be the third generation of  a family which held at revenue rates for 20 years or be an ex-proprietor of heir of an ex-proprietor with proprietary and tenant-at-revenue rates status of 20 years’ standing. Only a few could, therefore, quality for the right of occupancy. At the same time, whereas the occupancy right was inalienable, in the Punjab it could be mortgaged, sold or not hold it for a fixed term under a contract or a decree or on order of competent authority could be ejected at the end of any agricultural year. The security of tenure assured to the Punjab tenant was, therefore, nominal.

           

The distribution of land among the various classes of cultivators/landholders in the Amritsar District, during 1967-68, is given in the following table:

 

Class of cultivators/landholders

Area (hectares)

Total cultivated area

378119

Tenants-at-will

126201

Owners

115918

Tenants with rights of occupancy

-

 

(Source: Deputy Commissioner, Amritsar)

 

After the independence (1947), the state Government introduced agrarian reforms, in pursuance of which the following enactments were made:

 

1.      The East Punjab Utilization of Lands Act, 1949 (East Punjab Act XXXVIII of 1949)

2.      The Punjab Occupancy Tenants (Vesting of proprietry Rights ) Act, 1952 (Punjab Act VIII of 1953)

3.      The Punjab Abolition of Ala Malikiyat and Talukdari Rights Act, 1952 (Punjab Act IX of 1953)

4.      The Punjab Security of Land TenuresAct, 1953 (Punjab Act X of 1953)

5.      The Punjab Bhoodan Yagna Act, 1955 (Punjab Act 45 of 1956)

6.      The Punjab Resumption of Jagirs Act, 1957 (Punjab Act 39 of 1957)

7.      The Punjab Village Common Lands (Regulation) Act, 1961 (Punjab Act 18 of 1961)

 

Under the Punjab  Abolition of Ala Malikiyat and Talukdari RightsAct, 1952, all rights, title and interests of an ala malik in the land held under him by an adna malik were extinguished and the latter was required to pay compensation to the former. The Punjab  Occupancy Tenants (Vesting of Proprietary Rights)Act, 1953, declared all the occupancy tenants as owners of the land.

 

Security of Land Tenures :-The Punjab  Security of Land Tenures Act, 1953, as amended up to date, has not only reduced the acreage which can be reserved but has also specifically prohibited the enjectment of tenants from all unreserved areas, except in cases of default in payment of rent or in proper cultivation. Rent has been limited to a third of the crop or its value or to the customary rent it that is lower. However, payment for services provided by the landlord is excluded from the consumption of rent. The Act further extends the opportunities for tenants to become owners. A tenant of 4 years’ standing acquires a right of pre-emption at sales or fore-closure; but more important, tenants of 6 years’ standing are allowed to buy non0reserved area from their landlords at three-quarters of the 10 years’ average of prices of similar land. 

 

Government have been further empowered to utilize the surplus area of both landowners and tenants for the resettlement of ejected tenants, landless laborers and small landowners. All areas owned by a local owner above 30 standard acres and by a displaced person above 50 standard acres would be considered ‘surplus area’. A small owner up to 30 standard acres, cannot eject a tenant under the Act from 5 standard acres unless the tenant has been settled by Government on surplus area.

 

By March 31, 1968, 2647 cases of surplus area decided and 21074 standard acres of land was declared surplus in the Amritsar District. By the same date, 5644 eligible tenants had been resettled on a surplus area of 12612 standard acres. Proprietary rights were given to the tenants in an area of 1398 acres.

 

The State Government gives financial assistance for reclamation to those tenants and landless agricultural workers who are resettled on a surplus area, and also advance loans for building houses and sinking wells.

 

Utilization of Lands :- Under the East Punjab Utilizatio of Lands Act, 1949, the Government enforced the utilization of every inch of available cultiable land for growing more of food and other essential crops. Under this Act, a notice to take over the land is served on every landowner who allows his land to remain uncultivated for 6 or more consecutive harvests and the land, thus, taken over is leased out to others for a term ranging from 7 to 20 years, priority being given to Harijans. Under the provisions of this Act, 3409 acres of land as taken over in the district, the whole of which was leased out by March 31, 1968.

 

Three other laws complete the reform of the tenancy system. The Punjab  Bhoodan Yagna Act, 1955, created a Bhoodan Yagna Board to receive land gifts and to allot land to the landless. Under the Punjab Resumption of Jagirs  Act, 1957, all jagirs, muafis, and jagir pensions, except military jagirs granted on, or after, August 4, 1914, any pension as defined in clause (17) of Article 366 of the constitution and any grant made in favour of religious and charitable institutions, were resumed on November 14, 1957. The compensation to the extent of 7 times the annual jagir was paid to the holders in lump sum or in instalments with interest at 2 per cent per annum. The Punjab Village Common Lands (Regulation) Act, 1961, provides for giving the village common land to landless persons.

 

Consolidation of Holdings:- The process of bringing together small and fragmented pieces of land is known as consolidation of holdings. The systematic and large-scale development in agriculture is not possible in case the holdings are small and the fields lie scattered. It is only through the consolidation of holdings that land lying scattered in tiny strips assumes a compact and standard shape. Uneconomic, neglected and inaccessible holdings are regrouped into consolidated, composite and homogeneous blocks. The regular sizeable fields enable the use of new and extensive agricultural techniques. Circular approach roads increase the mobility between field and villages, and the land set apart for institutions, like panchayat ghar and schools, helps to initiate the social welfare programme. The work of consolidation of land-holdings had been carried on by the Co-operative Department since 1930, i.e. long before the partition of Punjab in 1947, but in the absence of the necessary legislation, the work did not make such headway. Realizing the importance of the work, the (State Government enacted the East Punjab Holdings (Consolidation and Prevention of Fragmentation) Act, 1948 (East Punjab Act L of 1948) and created a separate Consolidation Department in 1949.

 

The consolidation of land is a great boon to the agriculturist. The tiller is saved to a great extent from the labour of supervision and irrigation which he has to put in when his holdings are scattered. The tiller generally finds it difficult to look after his crops scattered at different places and it is also cumbersome to maintain long channels and waterhouse intact. But the consolidation of holdings makes it possible for one man to irrigate the field and keep a close watch over it. He can avail himself of the facilities of modern agricultural implements and take to cultivation with a tractor if his holdings are consolidated. A lot of virgin land is also reclaimed by the Government as corollary to the consolidation scheme. In fact, consolidation revolutionizes and improves the economic condition of a tiller of the land.

 

The work of consolidation of land holdings, started in the Amritsar District in 1951-52, has since been completed.

 

Bhoodan :- The Punjab Bhoodan Yagna Act, 1955, was passed to promote the movement initated by Acharya Vinoba Bhave. Though no land has so far been given in Bhoodan in the district, yet the spirit behind the movement has been appreciated by the people.

 

Rural Wages and Condition of Agricultural Labour :- The condition of agricultural labour is considerably low. This category of labour is not organized. Though wages for agricultural labour have increased during the past few years, yet favourable conditions of work or benefits of service do not exist.

 

The wages paid to agricultural and skilled workers (men) in a selected village, viz. Gehri (Tahsil Tarn Taran) in the Amritsar District, during the period 1961 to 1968, are given in the following statement:

 

* Wages paid to agricultural  and skilled labourers (men) in the selected village of Gehri in the Amritsar District, 1961-68

 

YYear

Agricultural Labour

Skilled Labour

For plough-ing

For sowing

For weeding

For harvest-ing

For picking of cotton

For other agricultural operations

Black-smith

Carpen-ter

(Rs.)

(Rs.)

(Rs.)

(Rs.)

(Rs.)

(Rs.)

(Rs.)

(Rs.)

1961

1.50

1.50

2.00

-

-

2.46

4.50

4.50

1962

1.50

1.50

2.00

-

-

2.43

4.62

4.62

1963

3.10

3.10

1.71

-

2.00

1.79

5.56

5.10

1964

3.50

2.75

2.50

-

-

2.60

5.50

5.50

1965

3.38

3.42

3.22

3.00

-

3.32

5.77

5.77

1966

3.75

3.55

3.47

3.50

-

3.55

6.75

6.90

1967

4.07

4.07

4.08

5.50

-

4.11

8.30

8.30

1968

4.88

4.86

4.86

6.92

-

4.92

9.25

9.25

 

(Statistical Abstracts of Punjab, 1961 to 1968)

*For a normal working day of eight hours

 

( c) Other Source of Revenue, State and Ccentral

 

The revenues of India were classified into Indian, Provincial and Divided heads until 1920 when, following the introduction of the Montague-Chelmsford reforms, the divided heads were abolished and a complete separation took place between the Central and Provincial revenues. From this time, two types of revenues, viz. Central and Provincial (now State), have been current in the country.

 

(i)                Other Sources of State Revenue

 

The other sources of State revenue, besides the land revenue, are : Stamp Duty, Registration Fee, Professions Tax, Excise, Property Tax, Entertainments Duty, Motor-Spirit Tax, Passengers and Goods Tax, Cinema Show Tax, Central Sales Tax and Electricity Duty.

 

 

Stamp Duty : -The Indian Stamp Act (No. II) of 1899 came into force on July 1, 1899. It was amended by  the Punjab Act VIII of 1922. The second amendment was made by the Indian Stamp (Punjab Second Amendment) Act (No. 34) of 1960.

 

          Stamp revenue is derived from two classes of stamps-Judicial or Court fee and Non-judicial or Revenue Stamps. The Judicial Stamps represent the fee payable by persons resorting to courts of law or public offices, whereas the Non-judicial Stamps are levied on commercial transactions which are recorded. These duties are administered by the Collector (Deputy Commissioner) who ensures that the documents are properly stamped according to the schedule.

 

The treasuries in the district serve as depots for the custody and the sale of stamps of all denominations. Stamps are also sold by authorized vendors on commission basis.

 

The collection of stamp duty in the district, during 1960-61 and 1965-66 to 1967-68, was as under:

 

Year

Judicial (Rs.)

Non-Judicial (Rs.)

Miscellaneous (Rs.)

Total (Rs.)

1960-61

831518

1366065

231361

2695944

1965-66

1086385

2937892

315261

4339538

1966-67

805162

1773235

957017

3535414

1967-68

1047636

2394486

1929471

5371593

 

( Source : Treasury Officer, Amritsar)

 

Registration Fee :- Under the Indian Registration Act (XVI) of 1908, all documents pertaining to immovable property should be registered according to the nature of the document. The chief items of receipts collected by the Registration Department are in respect of  registration of documents, making or granting of copies, searching the registers and the authentication of powers of attorney. A few classes of documents have, however, been exempted from the payment of fee in the whole or in part, e.g. (a) mortgage deeds executed the Government servants in respect of advances for building, (b) documents relating to co-operative societies and land-mortgage banks, (c) encumbrance certificates issued in connection with loans under the Agriculturists’ Loans Act.

 

The Deputy Commissioner is the Registrar in the district. He is assisted by Tahsildars as Sub-Registrars in their respective tahsils. The senior Naib-Tahsildar in a tahsil is the ex-officio Joint Sub-Registrar and he undertakes the registration work lnly when the Sub-Registrar is on the leave or is away from the headquarters. The State Government is authorized to appoint any Cantonment Magistrate as Joint Sub-Registrar temporarily. The Sub-Registrar and the Joint Sub-Registrar do registration work in addition to their own duties and get an honorarium @ RS. 50 and Rs. 35 per mensem respectively.

 

The Sub-Registrar registers the documents pertaining to the properties situated within his jurisdiction. The Registrar is, however, empowered to register any document from any tahsil of his district. The appeals against the orders of the Sub-Tahsildar are heard y the Registrar. The Registrar, Amritsar, is under the Inspector-General of Registration, Jullundur.

 

The number of registrations, the value of the property registered and the receipts in the district, during 1961-62 to 1967-68, are given in the following statement:

 

Particulars of registration in the Amritsar District, 1961-62 to 1967-68

 

Year

Number of registration

Aggregate value of property registered

Amount of ordinary fees

Other receipts

Total receipts

Immovable property

Movable property

 

 

 

(Rs.)

(Rs.)

(Rs.)

(Rs.)

1961-62

20250

1968

35134897

338511

9227

347738

1962-63

24307

2132

41289883

408488

9050

417538

1963-64

-

-

-

-

-

-

1964-65

-

-

-

-

-

-

1965-66

18245

2906

54006654

550907

-

550907

1966-67

21636

2111

68770849

1123077

-

1123077

1967-68

26430

2211

91626523

1483060

-

-

 

(Source : Deputy Commissioner, Amritsar)

 

Excise Tax :- For the administration of Excise and Taxation Acts, the district is under the charge of the Excise and /Taxation Officer, Amritsar, who is assisted (as in Marfch 1968) by 3 Additional Excise and Taxation Officers, 11 Assistant Excise and Taxation Officers, 1 Tax Inspectors, 12 Excise Inspectors, besides other miscellaneous staff. The Amritsar District falls within the jurisdiction of the Deputy Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Jullundur.

 

The State and Central Acts, enforced in the State on the excise side, are : The Indian Opium Act, 1878; The Punjab Excise Act, 1914; The Punjab Local Option Act, 1923; The Dangerous Drugs Act, 1930; The Punjab Molasses (Control) Act, 1948; The Indian Power Alcohol Act, 1948; The Medicinal and Toilet Preparations (Excise Duties) Act, 1955; and the Spirituous Preparations (Excise Duties) Central Act, 1955.

 

Copying Fees :- These are levied under the Punjab Copying Fees Act, 1936. Copies of orders, etc. are supplied to the public on ordinary and urgent bases, the charges for which are Rs. 2.25 and Rs. 4.25 respectively. Copies on ordinary basis ar3e to be supplied in seven days, whereas those on urgent basis are to be delivered within 24 hours.

 

Motor-Spirit Tax :- It is levied under the Punjab Motor Spirit (Taxation of Sales) Act, 1939 (Act I of 939). The rate of tax, which remained 3 annas per imperial gallon till July 14, 1957, has been changing thereafter from time to time. In 1970, it was 9 paise per litre.

 

Urban Immovable Property Tax :- This tax was levied under Punjab Urban Immovable Property Tax Act, 1940. It was charged at the rate of 10 percent of the annual rental value of the buildings and lands, situated in the rating area, which was determined after 15 per cent deduction for repairs from the gross annual rent. The Government abolished the tax in four yearly stages from 1969-70 to 1972-73.

 

Sales Tax :- It is levied under the Punjab General Sales Tax Act, 1948, which repealed the Punjab General Sales Tax Act, 1941, on May 1, 1948.

 

Passengers and Goods Tax :- The Punjab Passengers and Goods Tax Act, 1952 (Act XVI of 1952) was enforced on September 1, 1952. The Act provides that tax shall be levied on all fares and freights in respect of passengers carried and goods transported in motor-vehicles in the Punjab. The rate of the tax has been enhanced from time to time. In 1967-68, the rate was 25 per cent of the fare and freight. The annual rate of tax per truck in 1970 was in plains within the Punjab Rs. 810 and in hilly areas Rs. 1215.

 

Entertainment Tax :- The Punjab Entertainment Tax (Cinematograph Shows) Act, 1954 (Act VIII of 1954) was enforced on May 4, 1954. The tax is levied for every show on the number of occupied seats of a cinema hall. The Act provides that the tax shall not exceed Rs. 10 per show in any case and shall be charged proportionately for a fraction of 100 seats.

 

Entertainment Duty :- The Punjab Entertainment Duty Act, 1936, was repealed by the the Punjab Entertainment Duty Act, 1955 (Act XVI of 1955) with effect from November 4, 1955. The rtes of duty change form time to time. The Act provides that entertainments duty shall not exceed in any case 50 per cent of the payment for admission; and in the case of complimentary tickets, the rate of duty shall be 50 per cent of the payment for admission to the particular class.

 

Professional Tax :- Every person who carries on trade, either himself of through an agent or representative, or who follows a profession or calling or is in employment either wholly or in part, within the Punjab State, is liable to  pay, for each financial year or part thereof, a tax unet the Punjab Professionans, Trades, Callings and Employment Taxation Act, 1956 (Act 7 of 1956). The maximum limit of the tax payable by any person is Rs. 250 in a financial year. The Excise and Taxation Officer, Amritsar, implements the Act in the district. Before 1965, the Treasury Officer, Amritsar, was the Assessing Authority for the purpose.

 

Central Sales Tax :- The Central Sales Tax Act, 1956, came into force in Jnuary 1957, enabling the State Governments to tax inter-state sales of goods. The States have been authorized to administer this tax on behalf of the Government of Inia, the entire collections being appropriated by the States.

 

Electricity Duty :- It was levied with effect from April 1, 1958, under the Punjab Electricity (Duty) Act, 1958, as part of the education cess to meet the additional financial burdens undertaken by the State on account of the introduction of free education and provincialization of the local-body schools. The duty is levied on the energy supplied by the Punjab Electricity Board to a consumer or a licensee and it is collected by the Board along with the bills for the energy thus supplied. On realization, the proceeds are deposited by the Board in the Government Treasury, Sub-Treasury or in the State Bank of India.

 

The collections from the above-mentioned taxes in the Amritsar District, from 1958-59 to 1967-68, are shown in the following statement.

 

 

Collections from other sources of State revenue in the

Sr. No.

Tax

1958-59  (Rs.)

1959-60

(Rs.)

1960-61

(Rs.)

1961-62

(Rs.)

1.

Excise Tax

-

-

4581700

5235451

2.

Copying Fee

1711

1933

4517

4077

3.

Motor Spirit Tax

346256

411125

475748

534033

4.

Urban Immovable Property Tax

983822

1026518

1056590

1494903

5.

General Sales Tax

4011954

4886159

5416247

6311082

6.

Passengers and Goods Tax

1716654

1535508

1680409

1931486

7.

Entertainment Tax

49438

52493

45281

49094

8.

Entertainment Duty

724088

715060

863388

1150022

9.

Professions, Trades, Callings and Employment Tax

216482

293389

375923

386204

10.

Central Sales Tax

1370985

1361115

1637113

1821623

 

 

  Amritsar District, 1958-59 to 1967-68

 

1962-63 (Rs.)

1963-64 (Rs)

1964-65 (Rs.)

1965-66 (Rs.)

1966-67 (Rs.)

1967-68 (Rs.)

4732376

6092149

8890988

10241713

11400252

157981

2967

3090

3879

5937

3780

2714

589729

620604

625856

621937

827018

1049499

1578322

2080821

1622876

1223648

1193938

752653

7102491

10144368

12634349

13292836

18884258

24148264

2404991

3591914

4017604

4144551

5042665

5540448

50263

56065

61932

118660

107868

110940

1283150

1683132

1997754

1884148

2384429

2359789

864382

1115104

799788

557671

919295

366959

2061887

3039185

3372000

3407730

4919158

8047680

 

(Source : Excise and Taxation Officer, Amritsar; Chief Electrical Inspector to Government, Punjab, Patiala)

           

(ii) Central Sources of Revenue

 

            Central Excise Duties :- The Assistant Collector, Central Excise M.O.D., Amritsar, is in charge of the Central Excise Division, Amritsar, which comprises to the Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts. The jurisdiction of the Amritsar District is divided into five ranges, viz. The Chheharta Range, the Putlighar Range, the City Range, the Gold Range and the Cheel Mandi Range, which are supervised by the Superintendent, Central Excise M.O.D., Amritsar. The range offices are situated at the G.T. Road, Chheharta, Islamabad, Gopal Ngar, Chourasti Atari, and Cheel Mandi respectively.

 

            The main sources of Central Excise duty in the district include wollen fabrics, wollen yarn, wool tops, art-silk fabrics, aerated water, rayon synthetic yarn, paints and varnishes, vegetable products, food products, sodium silicate, embroidered goods, and coal tar dyes.

 

            The Acts under which the duty is collected are : the Central Excise and Salt Act, 1944; the Produce Cess Act, 1966; the Khadi and Other Handloom Industries Development (Additional Excise Duty on Cloth) Act, 1953; the Cotton Fabrics (Additional Excise Duty) Act, 1957; and the Additional Excise (Goods of Special Importance)Act, 1957.

 

            Income-Tax :- The Indian Income Tax Act, 1922, was replaced by the Income Tax Act 1961, on April 1, 1962. The Income-Tax is levied in accordance with the rates specified in the Finance Act or the relevant year passed by the Parliament.

 

            Wealth Tax :- It is levied under the Wealth Tax Act, 1957, which came into force from April 1, 1957. In the case of an individual, the tax is leviable it the net wealth exceeds rupees one lakh, and, in the case of a Hindu undivided family, if it exceeds rupees two lakhs. One house or a part of a house subject to a maximum of rupees one lakh in value, belonging to the assessee and exclusively used by him for residential purposes, is exempted from the payment of the tax.

 

            The agricultural land has also been included in the net assets for the purpose of wealth tax with effect from April 1, 1971. The tax is, however, not payable in respect of agricultural land belonging to an assessee up to a maximum of rupees one and a half lakh in value.

            Gift Tax :- The Gift Tax Act, 1958, was enforced on April 1, 1958. It is leviable on all gifts made after April 1, 1971 (i.e. from the financial year 1957-58 and the assessment year 1958-59) if the total value of the gift (movable or immovable) exceeds Rs. 10,000. This limit was lowered to Rs. 5,000 with effect from 1963-64.

 

            Estate Duty :- The Estate Duty Act, 1953 (Act 34 of 1953) was enforced on October 15, 1953. The duty is leviable on the estates of persons dying after this date. Proceedings for this levy are to be initiated within 5 years of th death but no limit has been fixed for the completion of the asseddment. For the levying of estate duty, the Amritsar District falls within the jurisdiction of the Assistant Controller of Estates Duty, Jullundur.

 

            The collection from the above-mentioned taxes in the Amritsar District, from 1958-59 to 1967-68, are given in the following statement :

 

Collections from Central sources of revenue in the Amritsar District, 1958-59 to 1967-68

 

Year

Central excise duties (Rs.)

Income-tax (Rs.)

Wealth tax (Rs.)

Gift tax (Rs.)

Estate duty (Rs.)

1958-59

5312566

15977805

287048

200

64563

1959-60

6314922

15865097

258461

23636

112089

1960-61

5706840

20293090

112308

15794

196760

1961-62

10358650

19315503

117516

23758

271609

1962-63

14094019

32153264

165156

88279

271609

1963-64

25647651

38359437

295950

41072

45211

1964-65

21829345

40975951

121931

50377

99936

1965-66

12941963

34062715

475923

174997

89495

1966-67

18392134

50802774

579184

144479

80125

1967-68

18495316

56402986

685757

131856

87218

 

(Source : Treasury Officer, Amritsar; and Assistant Controller of Estate Duty, Jullundur Circle, Jullundur)

 

APPENDIX

 

            Schedule specifying rates of additional revenue levied under the Punjab Land Revenue (Amendment) Act, 1974

(vide page 371)

            Under the Act, every land-owner who pays land revenue in excess of twenty rupees shall be liable to pay an additional land revenue in accordance with the rates specified in the following schedule. The Act, however, provides that in respect of land situated in the Ropar Tahsil of Ropar District, Batala Tahsil of Gurdaspur District, urban assessment circle of Tarn Taran or the urban or suburban assessment circles of the Amritsar Tahsil of Amritsar District additional revenue shall be payable at a rate which shall be twenty-five per cent less than the rates mentioned in the schedule.

 

Schedule

1. Where the total land revenue exceeds twenty rupees but does not exceed fifty rupees annually.

Two hundred per cent of the amount by which the total land revenue exceeds twenty rupees.

2. Where the total land revenue exceeds fifty rupees but does not exceed one hundred rupees annually.

Sixty rupees plus two hundred and fifty per cent of the amount by which the total land revenue exceeds fifty rupees.

3. Where the total land revenue exceeds one hundred rupees, but does not exceed two hundred rupees annually.

One hundred and eighty-five rupees plus three hundred per cent of the amount by which the total land revenue exceeds one hundred rupees.

4. Where the total land revenue exceeds two hundred rupees annually.

Four hundred and eighty-five rupees plus three hundred and fifty per cent of the amount by which the total land revenue exceeds two hundred rupees.

 

            CHAPTER XII

 

LAW AND ORDER AND JUSTICE

(a)

Incidence of Crime in the District

(b)

History and Organization of Police

©

Jails and Lock Ups

(d)

Organization of Civil and Criminal Courts

(e)

Bar Associations

 

(a)   Incidence of Crime in the District

 

The mass of the people of the Amritsar Distric, which presents the appearance of a continuous level plain, unbroken by hills or valleys, may fairly be said to be contented and law-abiding. The crimes of violence are not numerous and riots are rare. Murders, when they occur, are usually the outcome of sudden quarrels, land disputes, sex relations, and sometimes are committed under circumstances of peculiar atrocity. The weapons employed are mostly spears, kirpans, gandasis  or  takeas. Homicide cases in rural tracts occur frequently as a result of quarrels about the profession of land or building sites, or about cattle trespass. It can safely be said that the bulk of the people of the district are law-abiding.

 

The district has a conspicuous name for illicit distillation and for the smuggling of opium from across the border. The police have adopted severe and stringent measures to detect this type of crime. However, in such cases it is difficult to obtain evidences, for the whole village is usually found in league with one another to conceal the breach of law.

 

From the view-point of law and order, the Amritsar District is the heaviest and most difficult charge in the whole State. The headquarters of most of the well-organized political parties are located at Amritsar. The city has always been the nerve-centre of political activity, where rival parties have, now and then, launched agitations and measured their strength, presenting the mist complicated problems to the district administration, especially the police. All political movements and agitations find their seed in the city and also flourish here. Even before the partition (1947), a stir in the political atmosphere at Lahore found the man-power and finance in Amritsar to carry it through.

 

In the rural areas of the district, there are strong and sturdy Jats who are ready to take law in their own hands at the slightest pretext. The proximity of the border affects adversely the temperament of the inhabitants of the area, who become more desperate and too much prone to crime. In towns, there is a very intelligent, shrewd and far-seeing business community, which would calculate everything in terms of profit and loss. In view of the ever-changing course of the River Ravi, the district has to face floods almost every year. On account of the social, economic, political and geographical importance of the district, there are innumerable visits of the V.I.Ps’ and an endless stream of foreigners and tourists pouring into the district. These visits place an additional burden on the police. In order to appreciate the various problems of crime in the district, one cannot afford to ignore its historical and geographical background. This is a district of the Golden Temple and of saints and martyrs, along with its richness of the soil for agricultural, besides a flourishing trade and industry. All these present their own problem to the administration. The partition of the country (1947) gave a new geographical to the ddistrict. In consequence, four new police-stations, viz. Patti, Valtoha, Bhikiwind and Khalra, formerly part of the Lahore District, were added to it. These four police-stations were already notorious for crime, and provided the major portion of the work to the pre-partition Kasur Subdivision. This gave new problems of crime to the police.

 

The partition of the Punjab (1947) plunged the newly constituted East Punjab State into carnage, with all its dire consequences. Even though the communal frenzy died in the wake of mass migration, the resulting dis-equilibrium created a number of problems for the police. Along with the refugees, a large number of confirmed bad characters and members of the criminal tribes came across the border and took full advantage of the disturbed conditions. A special staff was accordingly organized to spot out the criminals who had crossed the border before they could establish local contacts. The police found the task to be very difficult, because all the important files and records of these criminals were left at Lahore. Apart from the grim background and the unfortunate aftermath of the partition, a large number o other factors were also responsible for the sudden increase in the incidence of crime, coupled with a decline in the efficiency of the police force. The communal disturbances and the widespread rioting and violent crime had produced in the public mind a ant local quarrels, which could easily have been checked in the past by the local authorities, no longer subsided very early and even led to greater violence. The wholesome fear of law was no longer a restraining force. Whereas in the past a thanedar could deal with the situation single-handed, even senior officers found themselves seriously handicapped or even helpless as a result of the unhealthy local influence.

 

With the abolition in 1948, of the non-official agencies, like Honorary Magistrates, Zaildars and Sufedposhes, which rendered useful assistance to the Government, the police was deprived of a valuable support in its work in the rural areas. Their removal was, however, inevitable under the new democratic set-up established in the country. Consequent upon the establishment of the Panchayati Raj in the Punjab in 1961, the Sarpanches and Panches are expected  to play their full part in the day-to-day work of the administration and in the maintenance of law and order.

 

An idea regarding the trend of crime of all kinds brought to trial in the district, during the period 1959-1968, may be had from the following table:

Year

Reported cases

True cases

1959

5667

5500

1960

5394

4995

1961

5948

6030

1962

6202

5499

1963

7051

6083

1964

7316

7131

1965

7748

7289

1966

8121

6201

1967

7950

6286

1968

8134

6544

 

(Source : Senior Superintendent of Police, Amritsar)

 

The notable categories of crimes may be described below:

 

Murder :- This offence is committed owing to many reasons and under varied circumstances. The important motives behind a murder are usually the traditional “zan, zar and zamin”, i.e. woman, money and land. Illicit sexual relations, domestic quarrels, blood feuds, land disputes, lure of property canal-water disputes, personal enmity and party factions are the common causes of the crime in the district. Sometimes, murders are committed after a thoughtful planning and the culprits take care to leave no clues behind. Thus it becomes difficult for the police to trace them. The incidence of murder is mainly confined to the rural areas where party factions and disputes over women and land culminate in the commission of this heinous crime. Once the game is started, its chain of revengeful action often continuos for decades, despite strict surveillance by the local police. It is also a fortuitous crime and is sometimes committed over minor and trifling issues in a sudden outburst of anger. 

 

The following table illustrates the incidence of murder in the district, during the period 1958-1968:

 

Year

Reported cases

True cases

1959

25

46

1960

37

37

1961

37

38

1962

41

36

1963

35

41

1964

41

47

1965

58

40

1966

81

77

1967

89

62

1968

91

61

 

(Source : Senior Superintendent of Police, Amritsar)

 

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