A Jagir (IAST: Jāgīr), also spelled as Jageer, was a type of feudal land grant in South Asia at the foundation of its Jagirdar system. It developed during the Islamic rule era of the Indian subcontinent, starting in the early 13th century, wherein the powers to govern and collect tax from an estate was granted to an appointee of the state. The tenants were considered to be in the servitude of the jagirdar. There were two forms of jagir, one conditional and other unconditional. The conditional jagir required the governing family to maintain troops and provide their service to the state when asked. The land grant was called iqta, usually for a holder's lifetime, and the land reverted to the state upon the death of the jagirdar.
The jagirdar system was introduced by the Delhi Sultanate, and continued during the Mughal Empire, but with a difference. In the Mughal times, the jagirdar collected taxes which paid his salary and rest to the Mughal treasury, while the administration and military authority was given to a separate Mughal appointee. After the collapse of Mughal Empire, the system of jagirs was retained by Rajput and Sikh kingdoms, and later in a form by the British East India Company.
Definition of Jagir
The Supreme Court of India used the following definition of the Jagir from Rajasthan Land Reforms and Resumption of Jagirs Act (Rajasthan Act VI of 1952) in its Thakur Amar Singhji vs State Of Rajasthan(And Other ...) on 15 April 1955 judgement:
The word 'jagir' connoted originally grants made by Rajput Rulers to their clansmen for military services rendered or to be rendered. Later on grants made for religious and charitable purposes and even to non-Rajputs were called jagirs, and both in its popular sense and legislative practice, the word jagir came to be used as connoting all grants which conferred on the grantees rights in respect of land revenue, and that is the sense in which the word jagir should be construed in Article 31-A.
A jagir was technically a feudal life estate, as the grant reverted to the state upon the jagirdar's death. However, in practice, jagirs became hereditary to the male lineal heir of the jagirdar. The family was thus the de facto ruler of the territory, earned income from part of the tax revenues and delivered the rest to the treasury of the state during the Islamic rule period, and later in parts of India that came under Afghan, Sikh and Dogra rulers. The jagirdar did not act alone, but appointed administrative layers for revenue collection. These positions, according to Shakti Kak, were called patwari, tahsildar, amil, fotedar, munsif, qanungo, chaudhri, dewan and others.
13th century origin of Jagirs and successors
This feudal system of land ownership is referred to as the jagirdar system. The system was introduced by the Sultans of Delhi from 13th century onwards, was later adopted by the Mughal Empire, and continued under the British East India Company.
Some Hindu jagirdars were converted into Muslim vassal states under Mughal imperial sway, such as the nawwabs of Kurnool. Most princely states of India during the colonial British Raj era were jagirdars. Shortly following independence from the British Crown in 1947, the jagirdar system was abolished by the Indian government in 1951.
Types of Jagirs
The Jagir grants were of several kinds and were known under different expressions, including Jagir, an area of neighboring towns or villages with an administrative Paigah, Agrahar, Umli, Mukasa, Inam, and Maktha.
Examples of jagirs include:
- Bidhwan jagir of 90 villages given to Jaglan Jats in Loharu Princely State
- Chaube Jagirs: British Raj protectorates
- Hasht-Bhaiya jagir during British Raj that was originally under Princely State of Orchha
- Kapshi was a Princely State Jagir in Bombay Presidency of British Raj
- Ranpur Sorath was a senior jagir of the Babi Dynasty of Junagadh state and the ruler of Ranpur soath used the title of Namdar Darbar saheb and his younger brother was given the Jagir of Devgam. Ranpur sorath and Devgam are the descendants of Namdar Darbar saheb Sher khanji Babi Bahadur, uncle of the first Nawab saheb of Junagadh state.
- Poonch, granted as a jagir to Raja Dhyan Singh by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, an arrangement continued by the Maharajas of Jammu and Kashmir until 1947.
- Feudalism in Pakistan
- HH Davies; W Blyth (1873). Umritsur, Sowrian & Turun Tarun. Lahore: Government Civil Secretariat Press. p. 29.
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- Indian Kanoon document 10572