UP Abolition of Zamindari Act Law Insider

Anish Bachchan

Published on: April 19, 2022, at 09:42 IST


When we turn to the pages of history, we see how the so-called democratic British Empire would preach civilization and cultural superiority when in reality, they were the barbarians of other countries and wanted to show their racial superiority in front of everyone else.

The only reason why Britain became a superpower and even won the two World Wars was because of the exploitation of its colonies. If it weren’t for its resources the island nation would’ve been subdued by Hitler’s empire which is much worse than Britannia.

In the Indian context, the British took much of India’s resources to make themselves look stronger in front of trivial European bickering while at the same time making India poorer. If it weren’t for the efforts of the freedom fighters, the World Wars, and natural and artificial disasters, British Imperialism would’ve reigned supreme.

But by 1945, everyone’s perception of colonialism is universally negative, especially among the Americans and the Soviets. Britain was in no position to make the colonies stay with them. That’s when the age of decolonization began.

Countries that have gained their independence now want to do away with the legacy of the British Empire. In India’s case, one of the first steps it took was the abolition of the zamindari system.

What is the Zamindari System and why do peasants want to get rid of it?

The system existed during the time of the Mughals, however, it was the British who perfected the system. Cornwallis brought this system by making the British Officers and the Zamindars form an agreement.

They later had to pay a large sum of money to the English East India Company. The Zamindars give their lands to the peasants for rent and in return, the latter has to pay the former by giving them produce.

The British had divided the rent into 11 parts out of which only one part goes to the Zamindar, whereas the rest goes to the East India Company.

The peasants want to get rid of the system. Their reasons for dissatisfaction and disillusionment are:

  • The indigenous peasants were once owners of the land but the system made the peasants the tenants of the land they once owned.
  • The Zamindars can do what they please. Since the British Era made them the masters of the land, they can get rid of the peasants as they see fit.
  • If the peasants are not able to pay the amount given by Zamindars, the former would be kicked out.
  • The resentment of the peasants towards the Zamindars is the source of the peasant’s movements.

Abolition of Zamindari System

Following the independence, the Indian government decided that they don’t want a system that could hamper the works of the peasants. They also believe that the system is nothing more than a relic of a colonial-era now pasts its prime.

The system itself harms the economy and the Indian government fears that the produce in agriculture is in sharp decline. Thus they decided to enforce the “Uttar Pradesh Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act, 1950.

The abolition of the zamindari system was the biggest step to land reform. The government believes that everyone should get an equal opportunity. The act’s main objective is to bring more produce while everyone is working regardless of economic class.

Importance of the Act

  • Responsibility towards the property, so that it could spread excess to people who are impoverished and landless.
  • Elimination of landlord tyranny and providing a roof on the rural property could be a sign toward the modernization of farms.
  • It provides a base for the middle person system.

Features of the Act

Features of the Act Section of the Act Explanation
Zamindari System is abolished The state of Uttar Pradesh will have the rights, titles, and interests.
Introduction of the new land tenure system All old fourteen types of land were abolished and the new system will have 4 categories:

  • Bhumidar
  • Sirdar
  • Asami
  • Adivasi
Payment of Compensations Sections 27 and 54 The act will provide compensation to the zamindars. The compensation is a uniform rate of eight times the net assets. Middleman, Zamindar, and Thekedar are paid under this act.
Rehabilitation Grant is paid The said features are authorized to the zamindars. The latter pays Rs. 10,000 of annual land revenue.

  • High Income: Grant is low
  • Low Income: Grant is high
Rules of Succession are uniform Sections 171 to 175 Once the tenure holder is dead, their interest in holdings goes to heirs instead of personal law heirs.
Village Communities are established Establishment of Gaon Samaj and Land Management Committee. The estates are vested to the former whereas the latter looks after them.
Letting is prohibited Sections 165 and 167 Letting and Subletting are prohibited under this act
Maintenance of Rights of Cultivators The one who cultivates the land should own it whether they are a Zamindar or a peasant.
Accumulation of lands is prohibited Section 154(1) If the tenure holder becomes the holder of the land which has 12.5 acres, neither they nor their family members can purchase or gift it. The person who owns more than 12.5 acres cannot purchase or gift the land, however, they can keep it.
Wells, Tress, and buildings are settled Section 9 The existing owners can continue possessing wells, trees, and buildings.

Case Laws

  • Kedarnath and others vs. Sheo Murat Pandey and others: The court decided that every estate in the state of Uttar Pradesh
  • Stood transferred to
  • Stood vested in the state.
  • Mahraj Singh vs the State of U.P: The defendant’s argument that hat, Bazar, and mela are placed appurtenant to the structures in the property they have not vested in the government was evaluated by a two-judge bench of this court.
  • Shankar Prasad Case: The upper brass of the Indian Legal Executives talked about many legal changes regarding the issues of land. Parliament too decided to join hands by bringing financial improvement to the agrarian sector.
  • Cases like the Minerva Mills, Waman Rao, Subhesh Sharma vs. Union of India, etc. have the Supreme expressing the importance of Judicial Review as the fundamental structure. They limited the amount of correction conducted by that of the Parliament per Art.368 of the Constitution by decoding and declaring such a huge number of angles as important structure. The court ruled that clauses (4) and (5) of Article 368 seem to be invalid since they undermine the Indian Constitution’s core framework.
  • Sajjan Singh vs. the State of Rajasthan: The court explained that Articles 31(A) and 31(B) which were added to the constitution to arrange agrarian changes that need to confront genuine tests in officials’ courtrooms. Their grounds are that they negate the basic rights which are ensured under Part III.
  • Golak Nath vs. the State of Punjab: The eleven judge bench has considered the accuracy of the view of the above-mentioned case. The choices were overruled by five to six. However, it was later overruled in the Keshvananda Bharti Case. The court concluded that Article 368 does not give the power to the Parliament to change the bring any changes to the essential structures of the Constitution.


The Zamindari system has brought the worst of the British System. Not only does it make the system more regressive, but it hampers any economic aspects of the country. The government sought the best option to abolish this obsolete system.

It is also understandable that the Indian laws are not perfect, and some of them have loopholes that bad actors could exploit to the fullest. This is why, the government should review the act and see what loopholes, this act contains and how should they fix them.

Another thing that should be kept in mind is that the laws must be people-centric. It should serve the interest of the poor, the peasants, and the impoverished. The act aimed to bring financial and social support to the said groups.

However, this is not enough. We as the youth should do something to bring changes in the law. Our country is an agrarian one, and we are living in the age of the internet. We must use the internet to bring upliftment steps and policies to help the rural poor.

A change won’t happen by midnight, but a democratic society is dynamic. It changes with the winds of time. Eventually, progressive methods would be introduced which could serve the interest of the country.


Edited by: Tanvee Jain, Publisher, Law Insider

Credentials: Anish Bachchan, Law Student at Amity Law School, Noida.

Also Read: Supreme Court: Revenue Record is not a Document of Title

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