Early history: Prior to the Muslim invasion of the Deccan land was divided into plots or estates known as munds, kas and tikas or thikas. The assessment on the mund was a fixed lump-sum for all the lands in the estate, good, fair and bad. In the settlement of kas or small estates the division of the village-lands was into smaller parcels than munds, and unlike the assessment on tikas or shets, the assessment on each kas in a village was the same. This system of revenue management was followed by that of Malik Ambar's. This was introduced at the beginning of the 17th century by the Ahmadnagar minister Malik Ambar (1600-1626). It was based on the system introduced in the Moghal territories in upper India and partially in Gujarat and Khandesh by Akbar's minister Todar Mal. Malik Ambar made the settlement direct with the village instead of with the district hereditary revenue superintendents and accountants, the deshmukhs or desais and the deshpandes. The village head-men were made hereditary and responsible for the village rental. An average or normal payment called the tankha was fixed for each plot of land surveyed and for each village. This system combined two merits of a moderate and certain tax and the possession by the cultivators of an interest in the soil.

Under Maratha revenue system in the later part of the 17th century one-fourth or chauth and the one-tenth or sardeshmukhi of the revenue were in existence. About 1720 the Marathas made many assignments of revenue to individual chiefs and others for whom it was politic to make provision. Besides, many proprietors held and collected the rents of various estates. About 1769 during the administration of Peshwa Madhavrav Ballal, a rate of assessment was introduced, known as the kamal or total. However, this was found not to bear equally on the soil and in its place, with the sanction of Nana Fadnavis, an older settlement known as the kasbandi bigha was introduced. The village rental was divided into three parts. First the village expenses were paid and the claims of village servants met; second the State revenue was set apart; third the remainder was divided among officers and chiefs to whom it was advisable to give a local interest and local authority. The management of a district was entrusted to an officer styled subhedar whose charge was divided into sub-divisions each under the management of a kamavisdar or mamlatdar. The authority of the subhedar closely corresponded to the authority of a Collector under the British Government. Subhedars and kamavisdars were paid by assignments on the revenue of their charge. The subhedars attended merely to the aggregate revenue which the different sub-divisions could yield. They left the interior fiscal management to the kamavisdars who every year settled with the heads of each village what rental the village was to pay. The revenue settlement or jamabandi was by villages. Under Nana Fadnavis the system was well executed, no Government officer dared to burden a village with an unusually heavy rent without first obtaining the assent of the village. After the death of Nana Fadnavis in 1800 the system changed. During the eighteen years before the introduction of British management the only limit on the demands made from the land-holders was their power to pay. Under Peshwa Bajirav's system, the revenue fanner or maktedar was obliged, even if he ruined himself, to pay the full amount which he had offered. Under the last Peshwa, there was no efficient revenue system. The hereditary officers were left in the free enjoyment of their grants. However, they were required to inform of the state of their districts, the registration of grants, and attendance on the mamlatdars of their districts. These officers were continued under the British rule. However, their terms and conditions including those of other officials were revised and re-settled. Besides the owners of alienated estates landholders belonged to two leading classes, hereditary holders or mirasdars and non-hereditary holders or upris. Hereditary holders were also called people of the place thalkaris and vatandars. The village-lands were then divided into thals or settlements which in turn were sub-divided into fields tikas or shets each of which had a local name.

The modes of fixing the assessment varied greatly. In some parts of the district the hereditary holders paid one nominally uniform rate of rent whereas in other parts, rates were fixed for each particular class of land, varying with its quality and situation. A makta or fixed rent in some places was also established for parcels of land without reference to any given bigha rate. The revenue system prevalent under Maratha rule including the kamal and tankha rentals was revised. Captain Pottinger introduced various changes in the system. He abolished the revenue farming. The settlement with individual landholders was made either by himself or by his kamavisdars in conjunction with the patils. The legitimate authority of the patils of villages was substituted for much arbitrary power. He never allowed the rents of deceased or deserted husbandmen to be levied on the village except with his own sanction. Lands that had long lain waste were given for tillage on leases varying from four to eight years, according to the time the land had been out of tillage.

Under the Peshwas many cesses were added to the original assessment. These cesses were levied both on hereditary and on non-hereditary land-holders. Under the British the most oppressive were abolished and the rest continued and were paid in cash instead of in kind. In 1822, about thirty-six cesses were levied from the holders of land, some of which were collected from the land, some from the village, and some from the land-holder.

Thus the changes under British in the early years could be described as the establishment of order, the freeing of land-holders from dependence on village head-men and on sureties, the settlement of what they had to pay to the State, the limiting of the rent charge to the lands actually under tillage, the gradual increase of the area of land which paid less than the full rental, and the very liberal terms on which waste lands were granted for tillage etc.

A system of village accounts was introduced by Mr. Dunlop in 1825. It was sanctioned in 1825, and in 1828 had proved a useful reform.

In 1828, of inam that is alienated or free-hold tenures there were seven varieties: inam or alienated land free from all demands from Government and in general subject to the rights and perquisites of hakdars that is hereditary district officers and village claimants; pasodi, land held rent-free by the heads of villages; devasthan, land set apart for the support of religious establishments; saranjam, land held for service; jat saranjam, land held in personal grant for which service was not expected; shetsanadi, land granted for special local service as divisional police; and naikvadi, lands granted to village watchmen. The revenue was collected under three chief heads, jamin bab or land revenue, sayar bab or miscellaneous taxes, and jakat or customs. There were four hereditary revenue officers, the deshmukh, deshpande, patil and kulkarni. In 1833 Mr. Williamson introduced some changes according to which each field was numbered and its name, number, area, holder's name, tenure and rent were recorded. In 1848 the revenue survey settlement was introduced in the district and completed after about thirty years. As the original survey rates were introduced for a term of thirty years, the period ended in 1878. Therefore, between 1880 and 1884 revised assessments were introduced into Sangamner, Rahuri and Ahmadnagar talukas.

In the district the most important tenure is rayatwari. It is of heritable and transferable occupancy rights. Under this system the State deals direct in matters of land revenue with the individual landholder. There are two classes of occupancy tenure: the old tenure and the new tenure. Under the former lands are heritable and transferable. The new or restricted tenure was introduced in 1901. Under this tenure lands are granted at concessional rates of occupancy price only to bonafide cultivators belonging to backward classes and that too on condition that the land shall not be transferred except with the permission of the Collector. However, the land is subject to the usual land revenue.

The land revenue assessments are fixed under the provisions of the Land Revenue Code as amended in 1939. The assessment is fixed after taking into account rainfall, water-sources, type of soil, crops grown and location. As such the arable lands are divided into three main classes, viz-, dry crop, rice and garden lands. The assessment is fixed on survey numbers and sub-divisions of survey numbers, on the basis of standard rates fixed for the group as envisaged under section 117-G of the Land Revenue Code read with other rules laid down in the Code. The land revenue settlements are ordinarily made every 30 years for a taluka. The assessment fixed under the settlement is sometimes suspended or remitted depending upon the yield of crops.

Besides, there were other tenures of inam lands which were gifted or granted by the Government for meritorious service in the past or in lieu of or on condition of some continuing service useful to the Government or to the village community. All the inam tenures except devasthan inams held by religious institutions or for religious services, have now been abolished under various measures of land reforms. The following statement gives the years in which the various inam tenures were abolished:—


Year of abolition

Political or Saranjam Inams


Personal Inams


Hereditary Watans


Village servants useful to the—


(a) Community


(b) Government: Patils




The occupancy rights of the abolished inam tenures have been conferred on their holders or tenants, as the case may be, on condition of payment of occupancy-price to the Government and/or compensation to the erstwhile holder.

Cultivation of lands by tenants both in inam lands and in rayatwari areas prior to 1947 was an important aspect of the land system. The occupant then used to lease a portion or whole of his holdings on annual tenancy at a rent agreed upon with the tenant. Four modes of tenant cultivation were in operation, viz., cash rent, crop share rent, a fixed quantity of produce as rent and a rent in service involving some mixture of the fore-going forms of rent. Of these, cash rent and crop share rent were common. However, under any type tenant was not ensured equality of status. Many tenants who held the same lands for generations had no right of permanency but continued to be tenants-at-will, liable to be deprived of their tenancy at the will of their land-lords. With a view to ameliorate the condition of tenants the Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Act, 1948, was enacted. The Act retained the general provisions of the Bombay Tenancy Act of 1939. Those tenants who had held land for a period of not less than six years immediately preceding the first day of January 1938, were declared to be ' protected tenants'. Such tenants could not be evicted unless they ceased to cultivate the land personally or the land-lord himself wanted to cultivate the land personally. The Act of 1948 has statutorily fixed the maximum rate of rent at one-third and one-fourth of the total produce in case of non-irrigated lands and irrigated lands, respectively. The Act amongst other provisions prohibits transfer of agricultural lands to non-agriculturists, though Collector in exceptional cases may permit such transfers. In pursuance of the ' Land to the Tiller' policy, the Act provided for compulsory transfer of ownership rights of tenanted lands to the tenants from 1st April 1957, which is known as the 'Tillers' Day'. With this the absentee landlordism came to an end.