Since the Vedic age, the land
system was pivoted upon revenue or Khajna. The King used to enjoy the Rajbhaga in terms of 1/6th
or 1/8th of the produce. Pathan Sultan Sher Shah Suri (1540 – 1545) measured and classified the land in terms of the produce
and introduced Kabuliyat and Patta as instruments of settlement. He created the posts of Kanungo, Amil and Amin for settlement
of land and collection of revenue. During Akbar’s time, Todarmal made some reforms to that system and the whole empire was
divided into Suba, Sarkar, Pargana and Mahal.
During the British rule, both under the Company and the Crown, the main concern
was to exact revenue and that was done through some agents for one-year, two-years, five-years and ten-years settlements.
In 1793, Lord Cornwallis introduced the Permanent Settlement Regulation and, for the first time in India, ownership over land
came into being by mere signature of a ruler. This Regulation gave rise to several uprisings and revolts in rural Bengal,
which died down at the birth of the Bengal Tenancy Act, 1885. This Act paved the way for scientific survey and mapping of
whole of the region creating the unit of survey, the mouza.
The land records for every piece and parcel of land of the region
was prepared under this Act, which is known as C. S. Record-of-Rights (1888 – 1940). This Act, for the first time acclaimed the
right of the tiller (proja) vis-ŕ-vis created a good number of intermediary interests within the premises.
Based upon the recommendations of the Flout Commission (1940) and to erase out the interests of
the intermediaries from land, the Government of West Bengal, immediate after the Independence, enacted the West Bengal Estate Acquisition
Act in 1953 and all kinds of intermediary interests upon land was abolished. The CS Records and Maps were revised under the provisions
of this Act, which is known as RS Operation and the RS Records and Maps were prepared.
To wipe out a few defects in the WBEA Act such as scope for accumulation of huge quantum of land
in a family, absence of any provision for restoration of the right of the sharecropper etc., a new Act came just after two years,
in 1955, known as West Bengal Land Reforms Act. This Act provided for declaring all kinds of institutions as raiyats, substituting
the previous family ceiling by individual ceiling, acclaiming the right of the sharecropper etc.