Ix] RENTS, PRICES, ASND WAGES 449
distinguishing the two classes the principle of prescription was
followed as the best practical guide, and the continuous
cultivation or holding of land for twelve years was declared to
entitle the tenant to a 'right of occupancy' in the land so
cultivated or held.
A similar distinction was preserved in various local Acts Subsequent
passed subsequently to I859, but as time went on the protection legislation
thus afforded to tenants was found to be inadequate. The dari
inquiries of the Famine Commission in i8So showed that in Provinces.
many tracts the rents were too high; that the cultivators were
by the conditions of their life debarred from other means of
subsistence; and that the pressure of high rents entailed a
great deal of unnecessary poverty, and consequent inability to
withstand the attacks of famine. The subject had meanwhile
attracted special attention in Bengal, where the whole question
was threshed out with great thoroughness and no little
acrimony, and a Bengal Act representing the result of these
inquiries was passed in i885. This Act has been accepted in
many respects as the standard of rent legislation for India, and,
along with the recommendations of the Famine Commission
of i88o, has led to the gradual revision of the rent legislation
of other Provinces. In Oudh, where the land is mainly owned
by large proprietors in an exceptionally strong position, and in
the Punjab, where the owners are small farmers and only half
the land is let to tenants, the Provincial legislation has certain
local peculiarities; but in Bengal, Agra, and the Central
Provinces, though the specific provisions of the laws differ,
there is a general similarity in their outline.
The position of rent legislation in India at the present time Present
may be briefly described as follows :-In all the Provinces rent laws.
above mentioned the law recognizes the two main classes of tenants.
tenants already referred to, occupancy and non-occupancy'.
As regards the qualification for occupancy rights, a twelve-year
rule is now followed only in Bengal and the Province of Agra.
In Oudh rights of occupancy were granted to certain classes of
ex-proprietors only, and in the Punjab they can be claimed
on certain specified historical grounds, but not on mere lapse of
time. The twelve-year rule was in force in the Central Provinces
till I884, but was in that year superseded by a provision which
Other classes of tenants are also recognized in several Provinces, under
the names of tenure holders, tenants at fixed rates, absolute occupancy
tenants, &c., at one end of the scale, and sub-tenants at the other; but the
bulk of the rent legislation is concerned with the two classes mentioned in
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