Land Laws The most ancient law in Bangladesh is the land law which can be traced back to the practices of aboriginal communities involving payment of a share of the produce of the land to the head of the clan, the right of the family to cultivate the land in its possession, and the power of the head of a panchayet to distribute land of the community to its families, and to settle land disputes. Though the clan system of administration of the community in course of time gave rise to the kingship system, the laws regarding land did not change very much except in the payment of the share of the produce to the king or his representatives and the king's right to distribute unused lands to others without disturbing the existing possessions of cultivators. Both Kautilya in his Artha Sastra and Manu, the lawgiver of the Aryans, note that whoever makes land fit for cultivation by clearing jungles has the right to own the same, subject to payment of rent or revenue to the king.
Manu declared that a king should take a sixth or an eighth or a twelfth part of the crops. But other Dharmasutrakars such as Baudhayana, Yagnavalka, Apasthamba, Vaisishtha, and Vishnu set the king's share as annual tax from his subjects to the tune of a sixth of the produce of the land. Kautilya, however, wrote that the land revenue could be assessed at one-third or one-fourth of the produce, depending on the facilities provided for Irrigation. But where there was no arrangement for irrigation, land revenue should be one-sixth of the produce.
Land was the common property of the community and belonged to settlers of the villages who cultivated the land. In course of time, they divided the land equally amongst their families. Hereditary cultivators could not be evicted from their land if they cultivated it and paid revenue. The right to partition the common land of the family amongst themselves was recognised in course of time. No settler family could transfer its land to any outsider without the consent of other permanent settlers or their heirs. After defeating the non-Aryan or aboriginals of this country, Aryans appropriated their land. The aboriginals who surrendered were engaged in domestic and agricultural work as slaves (Shudras). In course of time, the right of the sudras in the land was recognised, and they were allowed to cultivate the land under the system of barga by sharing half of the crop produced in such land, and giving the other half to the owners of the land.
When Bengal was conquered by Bakhtiar Khalji at the beginning of the 13th century, the rulers merely changed the rate of land revenue from one-sixth to one-fifth or one fourth of the produce, payable either in cash or in kind. Customary rights of landowners to transfer the land in any manner they liked, were not interfered with in case of those tenants who used to pay rent. But those who paid a share of the produce of the land cultivated by them as rent or revenue, had no such right to transfer the land. However, such land was heritable by the heirs of such tenants and could be cultivated by such heirs on the same terms and conditions as their predecessors enjoyed. Those who paid rent or revenue in cash were personally liable for the same, and could be sued for the recovery of arrears of dues, but could not be evicted from their land for non-payment of revenue. Only wastelands were given as jagir or ayma to royal officers in lieu of their salary, and to religious and learned persons for their maintenance. Whoever brought under cultivation any wasteland became owner of the same, subject to payment of rent or revenue assessed.
In course of time, when the power of the grampradhanas (village heads) was substantially curtailed, many of them were turned into local talukdars. These talukdars used to collect revenue from the cultivators at the rate assessed by the government and paid the same to superior landlords also known as zamindars, although they got a share of the collection as their remuneration. The government could lease out the khas lands on fixed revenue to others. The lessees of such lands could themselves cultivate the same or get the same cultivated through bargadars (sharecroppers) who had no rights to the land beyond getting half of the produce. Government grantees such as jagirdars and aymadars could, in their turn, also lease out their land to others on a rental basis, but they could not disturb possession of the cultivators whose land was included in their respective grant except realizing rent from them.
During Mughal rule, the land revenue system was systematised and consolidated by assessing the land revenue of the entire country at the rate of one-third of the produce. Revenue was then assessed by government officers known as amins, who also settled land disputes. Such officers used to assess revenue with the help of the kanungo, who knew the customs and regulations regarding land. Karkuns preserved records regarding land surveys and land revenue assessment and chowdhuris represented the inhabitants of the pargana, also called mahal or mukaddam. Patwaris or village accountants and other survey officers surveyed each and every plot of land on the basis of average production and market price of the produce for the previous ten years. Cultivators known as raiyats could pay revenue either in cash or kind, but cash payment was preferred. Zamindars, jagirdars or government rent collectors such as amils, sikdars, amalguzars or croris were prohibited from realising any additional amount known as abwab other than the assessed revenue from the raiyats. Those persons, as well as jagirdars and aymadars, could neither evict the raiyats from their land nor bring the land to their khas possession or let it out to others. Only when raiyats went elsewhere leaving their land, or when there was no male person in the family to cultivate the land, could the land be settled with others. Zamindars, jagirdars or aymadars were not proprietors of the land under their control. They could only collect revenue from the cultivating raiyats at government assessed rates. Zamindari right was hereditary but ijaradari, jagirdari or aymadari rights were neither hereditary nor transferable. Later, aymadari was made heritable. Zamindars or ijaradars got a share of their collection of land revenue as their remuneration and collection cost.
Permanent settlers of villages who themselves cultivated lands of their own village or through others were known as khudkast raiyats. They had to pay revenue at the customary rate of their pargana called nirikh, or at the rate mentioned in the patta or lease deed executed in their favour. If they paid the revenue fixed for their land, they could not be evicted, and could possess their lands from generation to generation. They also could not abandon their land at their sweet will. Those who cultivated the land of the village where they did not live, were known as paikast raiyats and could pay rent on a contract basis. But they had no right to continue in possession and were merely tenants-at-will, and could be denied the right to cultivate the land any time after harvesting was over. Such raiyats could also abandon such land at their sweet will. Zamindars, jagirdars, chowdhuries and talukdars could get land in their khas possession cultivated through bargadars or agricultural labourers who had no rights on such land except to get a half share of the produce or wages for their labour.
On 12 August 1765, the East India Company was granted diwani rights by the Mughal Emperor Shah Alam to collect revenue from Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. Although the Company did not initially disturb the system of revenue collection prevalent in the country, it eventually started to firm out the right of collection to the highest bidders under quinquennial, annual and decennial settlements, leaving the old zamindars and ijaradars only with the task of the collection of higher revenue. On 22 March 1793, Lord Charles Cornwallis, Governor General of the Company, declared Decennial Settlement permanent that made zamindars and talukdars permanent proprietors of the land under their respective control. As a result, government revenue agents turned into landowners overnight. Landlords were allowed to own their property subject to regular payment of revenue to the government, for the default of which their right was liable to be sold in auction. Their right was made both heritable and transferable. No restraint was imposed on the landlords on the increase of the rent of raiyats, their customary right to pay rent at pargana rate was denied. Instead, an increased rent was demanded from them, in spite of the provision of regulation No.8 of 1793 which directed landlords not to increase rent of raiyats paying fixed rent for more than 12 years and to grant patta to other tenants at pargana rates.
Regulation No. 17 of 1793 provided that on the failure of the raiyats to pay increased rent, all their moveables, including standing crops was made liable to attachment and sale by the landlords without the intervention of the court. Revenue-free lands known as lakhiraj were partly recognised under the badshahi and non-badshahi lakhiraj Regulation of 1793. Most such lands were either assessed to revenue or resumed by the government. The government reserved the right to settle lands outside the area of permanent settlement that were treated as khas mahal.
Refusal of the raiyats to pay increased rent and their organised resistance to attachment and sale compelled the government to make Regulation No. 7 of 1799 which authorised landlords to arrest recalcitrant raiyats refusing to pay rent and also to attach and sell their properties. That black law was amended by Regulation No. 5 of 1812, which took away the power of landlords to arrest raiyats.
Several regulations were implemented for regulating the work of village patwaris and pargana kanungos. Kanungos were paid salaries. Rent-free land enjoyed by them previously in lieu of salary was assessed to revenue. On the other hand, patwaris were allowed rent-free land or allowances.
Hitherto after the auction sale of the zamindari right of the landlord, the auction purchaser could evict khudkast raiyats and also lease out their lands to others at an increased rent. Through regulation No. 11 of 1822 such auction purchasers were prohibited from evicting the class of khudkast raiyats known as kayemi (permanent) raiyats, but the power of such auction purchasers to evict other kinds of raiyats for arrears of rent continued.
Under the provisions of Regulation 14 of 1793 defaulting zamindars could be arrested and imprisoned and amins could be appointed to realise rent or revenue from their zamindaris. But Regulation No. 3 of 1794 abolished such power of arrest and detention. Provision was now made to sell on auction the zamindari for realisation of arrears of revenue with interest. By Regulation No. 5 of 1796, provision was made to auction a zamindari in parts for realisation of arrears of revenue. By Regulation No. 5 of 1812, the Board of Revenue was authorised to give permission to sell an entire zamindari. Regulation No. 11 of 1822 authorised the Board of Revenue to set aside auction sale of any zamindari for irregularity or any other reasonable ground. Act 12 of 1841 provided for sale of zamindari if the zamindar failed to pay arrears of revenue before the sunset of the day previous to the day fixed for auction in the proclamation for auction sale. The auction purchaser was also debarred from evicting certain types of raiyats having permanent right in their land and from increasing their rent. Act No. 1 of 1845 was enacted by amending and re-enacting the provisions of the aforesaid laws including Act No. 12 of 1841 which was known as the Revenue Sale Law (Sunset Law).
Because the East India Company had not taken adequate measures for protecting the interest of raiyats, after assuming power, the British government enacted the Rent Act of 1859 (Act X of 1859) for ameliorating the conditions of the Indian raiyats. This Act obliterated the difference between khudkast and paikast raiyats. It provided that a raiyat possessing any land continuously for 12 years or more shall acquire occupancy right in that land and shall not be evicted therefrom if he paid the rent for that land. But that provision was not applicable to annual or thika tenants cultivating khas lands of zamindars, talukdars and occupancy raiyats. It further provided that rent of raiyats possessing land at a fixed rent should not be increased. But there was no bar on increasing the rent of other classes of raiyats. Collectors had the power to decide all suits between landlord and tenants under provisions of that Act.
Moreover, some zamindars were allowed to enter into agreements with their tenants contrary to other provisions of the Act, which made other statutory provisions nugatory and encouraged other zamindars to force the raiyats to enter into agreements against their own interest and to increase rent and avoid acquiring occupancy rights over the land. Rent Act of 1862 provided for allowing tenants to deposit rent with collectors on the refusal of the landlord to amicably accept the same and empowered the collector to decree compensation up to 25% of the claim of the rent suit against tenants or landlords found to have failed to pay or accept rent without any reasonable cause. Provision was made in the said Act allowing landlords to measure and survey the land of tenants. The Rent Act of 1869 reenacted almost identical provisions of the Rent Act of 1859, and for the first time, recognised the limited customary right of occupancy tenants to transfer their lands. The Act also empowered civil courts to decide all suits between the landlords and the tenants instead of the collector.
The Survey Act of 1875 was enacted to determine the boundary of a village and to prepare a mouza or village map showing therein every plot of land with its area and to record the name of the tenant and the superior landlord, the nature of tenancy, share, possession, revenue, or rent payable for the same. The Rent Assessment Act of 1879 authorised the settlement officer to assess increased rent for occupancy.
The Peasant Revolt of Pabna in 1872 against attempts of zamindars to increase rent of raiyats led to the appointment of the Rent Law Commission in April 1879. The Commission submitted its report in May 1880. After consideration of the report a bill for enacting the bengal tenancy act was placed before the Legislative Council on 2 March 1883. The bill was passed by the Council after amendments. After assent of the Governor General, it became the law on 14 March 1885 and came into operation since 1 November 1885. This law made detailed provisions about the title, rights and liabilities of zamindars, talukdars, rent receivers and mokarrari raiyats (raiyats paying fixed rents), occupancy raiyats, settled raiyats, non-occupancy raiyats, and under raiyats.
Initially, this law did not recognise the tenant's right to transfer other than to kayemi (permanent) talukdars and mokarrari raiyats, unless allowed by local custom or usage, and also did not abolish the provision for attachment and sale of standing crops of the tenants for recovery of arrears of rents and such provision was retained. But this law empowered revenue officers to assess just and equitable rent at the time of preparation of records of rights (khatiyans) by measurement of land by actual field survey. Moreover, landlords could not increase rents except on certain grounds such as improvement of land or increase of area. Similarly, tenants were allowed right to reduction of rents on some grounds such as decrease of area or the failure of landlords to maintain irrigation facilities. Once rent was increased, it could not be increased again in the next fifteen years. Kayemi talukdars, mokarrari raiyats and occupancy raiyats could not be evicted for arrears of rent but they could be evicted from their land in execution of a decree for arrears of rent through the civil court. Bekayemi (non-permanent) talukdars, non-occupancy raiyats and under-raiyats could be evicted from their lands if they failed to pay rent falling into arrears at the appointed time.
Amendments made in the Act of 1894 by Act No. 1 of that year substituted the provision regarding preparation of khatiyans by survey operation and assessment of rent. Then by Act No. III of 1898 provisions regarding increase of rent, preparation of khatiyan, and assessment of rent were substantially altered. By Act I of 1907 and Act No. 1 of 1908 the said Act was further amended providing for presuming the entries in the finally published khatiyans to be correct unless the contrary was proved, and to file khatiyan in a court in a suit for recovery of arrears of rent to prove the claim, authorising revenue officers to reduce the rent increased more than that recorded in the khatiyan, and to file certificate cases for realisation of arrears of rent by the landlords to local revenue officers.
By Act No. IV of 1928 the said Act was drastically amended to allow occupancy raiyats to transfer their land on condition of payment of one fourth of the price as premium to his superior landlord, exercising the right of preemption of such land by the landlord, not to recognise bargadar as a tenant unless he was so recognised by the landowner under whom he was a bargadar or declared to enjoy occupancy right if he acquired the same under any custom or law; provision for attachment and sale of standing crop and moveable properties of the tenants was abolished.
Occupancy tenants were allowed to plant trees in their lands, enjoy their products, fell the same and use and sell timber, and the occupancy raiyats were allowed an under raiyat to give usufructuary mortgage of their land for fifteen years. By Act No. VI of 1938 the said Act was further amended deleting the provision for payment of premiums to landlords by occupancy tenants for transfer of their lands and right of landlords to preempt such land and giving such right of preemption to the other co-sharers of the transferor occupancy raiyats if the transfer was made to a stranger or strangers. It further provided for treating mortgage of occupancy land as usufructuary mortgage for fifteen years and for recovery of possession of the same through a court. Talukdars and under raiyats were allowed to surrender their rights in favour of their superior landlords. Act No. XIII of 1939 amended the provisions of section 52 of the said Act and prohibited the court from passing any decree for increasing the rent of the tenant even if on measurement the area of land in possession of the tenant was found to be more than the area settled with him.
Act No. XVIII of 1940 further amended the provisions of section 26 of the said Act and provided for treating all mortgages of occupancy lands including mortgage by conditional sale as usufructuary mortgage for fifteen years and for recovery of possession of such land through a court. Moreover, it prohibited sale of any property of the tenant other than a taluk, or holding in execution of a decree or certificate for arrears of rent of such a taluk or holding. The amended provisions of the Bengal Tenancy Act restored almost all the rights of the tenants taken away from them by the Permanent Settlement Regulation of 1773. For that reason the Bengal Tenancy Act is termed as the Magna Carta of tenant rights in Bengal.
Since a demand for abolition of the zamindari system was raised during the later part of British rule in 1939, the Land Revenue Commission was appointed with Francis Floud as its chairman. It submitted its report in 1940 recommending acquisition by the government of all rent receiving interests. Its recommendations led to the passage of the East Bengal State Acquisition And Tenancy Act of 1950.
Thus, after 163 years of permanent settlement all rent receiving interests were again placed directly under the government by abolishing the zamindari system. The Act provided for acquisition of all rent receiving interests in land, acquisition of khas lands in excess of 100 bighas from each family, acquisition of hats, bazaars, fisheries, minerals and other rights, and payment of compensation for such acquisition, preparation and revision of khatiyans, reassessment of rent of land of tenants including lands held under service tenures. After completion of the above processes and acquisition of all rent receiving and other interests and final publication of khatiyans and compensation assessment rolls, notifications were published bringing into operation provisions of part V of the said Act regarding rights and liabilities of tenants at first in Patuakhali district in 1954 and lastly in Faridpur district in 1965.
With the coming into force of part V in any area, all unrepealed provisions of 14 Acts, including Bengal Tenancy Act and Sylhet Tenancy Act and 27 regulations, including Permanent Settlement Regulation, stood repealed and only one class of holders of agricultural lands called maliks remained. Their rights and liabilities were to be regulated under the provisions of part V of the Act of 1950. Such maliks have no right to minerals and other underground interests. If the government leased out any land for any fixed period then rights and liabilities under such lease would be regulated by the terms and conditions of such lease.
Though rights and liabilities of the tenants of non-agricultural land were regulated under the provisions of the Non-Agricultural Tenancy Act of 1949 before acquisition of rent receiving interest of such land, such tenants would be regulated by the provisions of that Act after acquisition of such interest by the government unless there was anything contrary to the same in part V. Except assessment of rent, increment and reduction of the same rights and liabilities of other non-agricultural tenants would be regulated by the terms and conditions of the lease deed and provisions of the Transfer of Property Act of 1882. Sub-lease of any agricultural and non-agricultural land would be void and such land would stand forfeited and vested in the government. No agricultural or non-agricultural tenancy right would be created in any government khas land by mere payment of any premium or rent unless a lease deed is executed by any authority empowered for the purpose and the same is registered. A bona fide cultivator means a person who himself or through members of his family or servants or agricultural or other labourers or partner or bargadar cultivates his land.
A raiyat may use and possess his land in any manner he likes and if he dies intestate, the same is inherited by his heirs in accordance with the provisions of the law of succession applicable to him and he may transfer his land. Such transfer is to be made by a registered instrument. But no one can acquire any land by inheritance or transfer if the same added with other land belonging to members of his family exceeds the limit of land entitled to be held by a family and such excess land vests in the government for which compensation was payable. Transfer of any land by a raiyat is liable to preemption by his co-sharer or the contiguous raiyat of such land subject to certain conditions. No raiyat can mortgage his land except by way of usufructuary mortgage for a specified period. No aboriginal can transfer his land to any person except to another aboriginal without permission of the revenue officer. Such transfer in violation of the same is illegal and such transferee may be evicted from such land by the revenue officer and such land may be restored to the transferor or his heirs. There were provisions for increase or reduction of rents; sub-division and consolidation of holdings and distribution of rents among co-sharers and for realisation of rents amicably or by issuing certificates and auction sales of holdings. There are also provisions for preparation, revision and maintenance of khatiyans, leasing out of land acquired by the government, and abandonment of alluvion and diluvion or acquisition of holdings. Every entry in the khatiyan prepared and revised under the provisions of sections 144 of the Act is presumed to be correct unless the contrary is proved by other evidence. The right to appeal against an order of a revenue officer lies with the collector under whom he works, against an order of a collector to the divisional commissioner of the division in which the district is situated, and against any order of the divisional commissioner to the Board of Revenue, now Land Appeal Board. Any revenue officer may review and change his or his predecessor's order.
There was no provision in the Bengal Tenancy Act about the rights and obligations of the non-agricultural tenants who were regulated by the provisions of the Contract Act of 1872 and the Transfer of Property Act of 1882. As a result, non-agricultural tenants could be evicted after the expiry of the period of their lease and landlords could also arbitrarily increase their rents at the time of renewal of the lease. The Non-agricultural Land Rent Assessment Act of 1936, being applicable only in respect of temporarily settled and government khas mahal lands, could not relieve the miseries of a large number of non-agricultural tenants under the private landlords. In 1938, the Non-agricultural Land Enquiry Committee, popularly known as Chandina Committee, was constituted. When landlords started evicting non-agricultural tenants after the formation of this committee, the Bengal Non-agricultural Tenancy (Temporary Provision) Act 1940 was enacted by the government as a temporary measure to prevent such evictions.
On the basis of the recommendations of this committee, the East Bengal Non-agricultural Tenancy Act 1949 was enacted to give relief to non-agricultural tenants. According to this law, any land used for purposes other than agriculture or horticulture was non-agricultural. Non-agricultural tenants were of two classes: tenants and under-tenants. Non-agricultural tenants having possession for 12 years or more had rights similar to those of perpetual tenants and could not be evicted. But other tenants and under-tenants had no such rights and could be evicted under the provisions of the said Act. Rights of non-agricultural tenants or under-tenants could be inherited by their heirs after their intestate death and was also transferable by registered instruments, and the immediate superior landlords of such tenants or their co-sharers had right of preemption under certain circumstances.
The government could direct preparation of khatiyans and assessment of rents of non-agricultural lands by revenue officers. The rents of non-agricultural tenants could not be increased within 15 years and that of under-tenants within 5 years of such assessment, except on the ground of improvement of the land, or increase of the area of the holding. Non-agricultural tenants could deposit rents in court on the refusal of landlords to amicably accept the same. Similarly, landlords could recover arrears of rents by filing suits in civil courts and could sell in auction non-agricultural land of defaulting tenants in execution of a decree for arrears of rent.
Under certain circumstances landlords could evict non-agricultural tenants or under-tenants by filing suits in civil courts. Provisions of the Act were and still are not applicable in respect of land held by any port, railway or local authority, or land leased out for gathering forest, or mineral products, or for exercise of fishery right, or land acquired by the government for use by any of its departments, or any waqf or trust land. Since final publication of khatiyans prepared or revised and compensation assessment rolls and payment of compensation to the rent receivers after acquisition of their interests in non-agricultural land and imposition of prohibition of sub-lease of non-agricultural land and repeal of many provisions of the Act by Ordinance No. IX of 1967, the said Act has lost its importance. Except exercising right of preemption by a co-sharer of non-agricultural land after transfer of share by another co-sharer in such land, other unrepealed provisions of the Act have virtually become inoperative.
Under the provisions of (Emergency) Requisition of Property Act of 1948, the government could requisition any house and requisition or acquire any land for public purpose or in public interest. To evict unauthorised occupiers from government land and buildings, Act X of 1952 was enacted, and subsequently by repealing the same, Ordinance No. XXIV of 1970 was promulgated to evict unauthorised occupiers from the land and buildings of government and local authorities.
Hats and Bazaars (Establishment and Acquisition) Ordinance 1959 provided for establishment of hats and bazaars with prior licence from the collector by the person in any land in his possession, and for forfeiting the land on which such hat and bazaar is established without such licence, and also to acquire any hat and bazaar established after final publication of compensation assessment rolls and payment of compensation by publication of notice in the official gazette. The Waqf Ordinance 1962 was promulgated for better management of waqf properties after repealing the Bengal Waqf Act 1934.
When the ceiling of land to be retained by a family was increased from 100 bighas to 375 bighas during the Martial Law rule of Pakistan, landholding per family substantially went down amongst average peasant families, and the number of landless peasants increased. The government of Bangladesh exempted peasants from paying rent of agricultural lands up to 25 bighas per family, reduced the ceiling of land per family again up to 100 bighas, and provided for vesting the excess land in the government for distribution along with other government khas lands to landless peasants. Provision of reduction of rent of the tenants of the diluviated land was retained, but the right of such tenants to re-enter such land after their reappearance was taken away, giving only preferential claim to such tenants or their heirs to get settlement of those lands under the government policy for settlement of government khas lands.
Similarly, the right of a tenant to own accreted land contiguous to his land was taken away, vesting the same in the government. Definition of usufructuary mortgage was extended to include land transferred with a contemporaneous agreement to repurchase the same within a fixed time. The period of possessing mortgaged land by the mortgagee was reduced to 7 years and the mortgagor was given the right to get back possession of such land through the revenue officer instead of the civil court. The Board of Revenue constituted in 1786 by the East India Company to manage, supervise, and control land revenue administration was abolished in 1973 by President's Order No. 12. The power of supervision and control of all revenue officers was vested in the government. The power to hear appeals from the decision of the divisional commissioner was given to the government in place of the abolished Board of Revenue.
Though the government exempted tenants from payment of rent or land revenue up to 25 bighas of land per family, payment of development and relief tax and other taxes including primary education cess was not exempted. The Land Development Tax Ordinance 1976 abolished all the above taxes and rent and also imposed graduated rate of land development tax payable annually at the minimum rate of three paisa per decimal of agricultural land held by a family holding up to two acres of land subject to the payment of a minimum tax of taka 1 and maximum rate of taka 1.45 per decimal of agricultural land per family holding land beyond twenty-five acres. Owners of non-agricultural lands in city, or large industrial areas used for commercial or industrial purposes, had to pay land development tax at the rate of taka 60 per decimal, and if used for residential or other purposes at the rate of taka 12 per decimal annually. Owners of such lands situated at district headquarters or pourashava (municipality) area had to pay annually such tax at the rate or taka 10 per decimal if used for commercial or industrial purposes, and taka 4 per decimal of land if used for residential or other purposes. In 1985, the rate of land development tax for non-agricultural land and in 1987 that for agricultural land was increased. In 1991, the government exempted agriculturist families holding up to 25 bighas of agricultural land from payment of the said tax with effect from the first day of the Bengali year 1398. In 1993, the rate of the land development tax was further increased.
After repealing the Land Acquisition Act 1894 and (Emergency) Requisition of Property Act 1948, the Requisition and Acquisition of Immovable Property Ordinance 1982 was promulgated, re-enacting with necessary modifications the provisions of the repealed laws and providing for releasing unused acquired lands to the previous owners or their heirs.
To relieve the secretary of the ministry of land from performing the functions of supervision and control of all revenue officers and from hearing appeals and revisions against decisions of the divisional commissioner on behalf of the government since the abolition of the Board of Revenue, the Land Administration Board was constituted in 1980 with a chairman and at least two members.
The Land Reforms Ordinance 1984 provided for equally sharing cost of seeds, irrigation, manure etc by the owner of the land and the bargadar to equally share the produce of the land cultivated by the labour of the bargadar. Otherwise, it provided for giving two-thirds of the produce to the bargadar if the owner of the land failed to pay his share of such costs. This law also provided for entering into a written contract between the owner of the land and his bargadar and prohibited evicting the bargadar without valid reasons such as self cultivation of the land by the owner. It also allowed heirs of the deceased bargadar to barga cultivate the land within the barga period of such land. This law fixed the ceiling of acquiring agricultural land per family up to 60 bighas henceforth by purchase, inheritance, gift, or any other manner. This law also prohibited purchasing of agricultural land by any person in benami i.e., in the name of another person and provided for treating the apparent transferee of the land as the real owner. This law also debarred the court or any other authority from attaching, forfeiting or selling any homestead land of an agriculturist and from dispossessing or evicting him from such land.
Land Khatiyan (Chittagong Hill Tracts) Ordinance 1984 provided for the first time for survey and preparation of khatiyans in the name of the owners of land in Chittagong Hill Tracts. Emergency Requisition of Property Act 1989 provided for requisition of property to meet any emergency created by flood, diluvion etc. Bangladesh Debt Settlement Act 1989 provided for constituting a Debt Settlement Board in each thana for giving relief to the poor peasants who are compelled to transfer their lands to the creditors under different modes including sale up to one acre of land at a price up to taka 30,000 and to restore possession of such land to the transferor treating the same as mortgage or declaring the same as void.
In 1989, the Board of Land Administration was bifurcated into the Land Reforms Board entrusted with the supervision and control of revenue officers and Land Appeal Board with the function of deciding quasi-judicial matters and also providing for preferring appeal to the government against the decision of the Land Appeal Board by an aggrieved person. By the state Acquisition and Tenancy (Amendment) Act 1994 provision of section 86 of the State Acquision and Tenancy Act 1950 was amended providing for leasing out the diluviated land to its former tenant or his heirs if the same was reformed within thirty years of its diluvium provided the same did not exceed the ceiling of sixty bighas of retainable land per family added with the leased land or part thereof and to take possession of such reformed land by the government through its local revenue officers, and to measure and survey the same before such settlement to the former tenant or landless peasants, and debar litigation within one year of taking over possession by the government of such land by adding a new section 86A in the said Act. [Kazi Ebadul Hoque]