Adyar Gopal Parivar
Mulageni and Muli Rights
Mulageni and Muli Rights
By Mohan Shenoy
 In Dakshina Kannada District of Karnataka
State, in India, there is a system of Land
Tenure known as Muladar. Muladar is the
Jamindar or owner of the piece of land. Jamin
is productive piece of land. Dar signifies
ownership. Mula signifies Root or the First and
Muladar is the Root owner or the First owner.
This Muladar is mentioned as the Khatadar in
the books of land revenue at present. Khata is
the name of the document containing the
details of the land and building for revenue
purposes and maintained by the local
authorities such as the Municipal authorities.
Mulageni is a compound of Mula and Geni. We
know already that Mula signifies First. Geni is
the term used for rent payable by the tenant to
the owner. This rent has been in either cash or
kind.
It was easy for the farmer tenant to pay his
rent to the owner in the form of a portion of the
produce that he gains out of the cultivation in
the land. This was paid once a year. The
tenant is the Mulageni rights holder while the
Muladar enjoys the ownership of the land.
Mulagenidar is therefore the term used to
denote the Anubhogadar. Anubhoga means
possession. Anubhogadar is the one who
possesses the land and enjoys it almost
absolutely. Mulagenidar can transfer the land
to another Mulagenidar for a consideration
without the permission of the Muladar except
that the new Mulagenidar has to pay the
specified rent to the Muladar like before. The
Muladar has a right to evict the Mulagenidar
only if the latter fails to pay the rent, although it
is very rare that the Muladar will himself
acquire the land without sufficient consideration
paid to the Mulagenidar in default. Muladar has
only the right for receiving the rent and
therefore when the land is transferred on
account of non-payment of the rent by the
Mulagenidar, the Muladar only claims the rent
in arrears and not the entire proceeds of the
transfer.
The rent payable by the Mulagenidar to the
Muladar has always been nominal. This is
because the land was not developed by the
Muladar but by the Mulagenidar. For example
the rent for a block of land measuring 10,000
sq.feet was about Rs. 7 per annum in
Mangalore City in 1990s. The significance of
the Mula Rights is that if the land is offered as
security to obtain loan then the ownership of
the land comes into question. Upon default in
repayment of loan the land can not be
auctioned to fulfil the loan obligations unless
the Muladar’s rights are taken into account. For
all practical purposes the Mulagenidar is a sub-
ordinate owner. He has to inform the Muladar
and obtain Muladar’s consent for all
transactions with respect to the land he
possesses although the Muladar can not and
does not refuse any reasonable propositions.
It will be easier to understand the Mula rights
and Mulageni tenants, if we study the history of
revenue administration in the region. When
Tipu Sultan got killed in the Mysore War of
1799, the Kannada (Kanara) areas and Sonda
kingdom, both situated north of Malabar and
also Malabar situated north of Travancore
kingdom on the West Coast of India, which
areas were ruled by Tipu Sultan until then,
came under the Administration of East India
Company. The Company had its headquarters
in Madras. Therefore all these lands were
included in the Administrative block known as
the Madras Presidency. The British East India
Company became the absolute rulers of these
vast areas where previously the Vijayanagar
Kings and later Nayaka Kings of Keladi
collected the land revenue. During all these
years since the year 1600 and even before, the
Varga (Warga) was the term used for Mula
estates and Vargadar (Wargadar) was the term
used for Muladar. The Vargadar paid the taxes
known as Kist to the rulers. The tenants paid
the Geni to the Vargadar. The tenants were not
paying any Kist or Geni to the rulers directly.
Sir Thomas Moore, a British officer, was
appointed as Head of the Administration of
these regions some time after the year 1799 by
the Board of Directors of the East India
Company located in London, U.K. Sir Moore
was not content with the amount of revenue
expected from the prevailing system. The
landowners of Kannada (Kanara) and Sonda
areas were asked to pay double the amount
than before. The extra amount was a new tax
known as Shamil and collected in addition to
the existing Kist. The two taxes were later
combined and an average rate known as
Sarasari Geni was fixed.
To Read List
Answer: I am not a
lawyer but as far as I
know the Muli right
can be sold to the
party who offers the
best price whether
he is Mulgenidar or
not.
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Both Muladars and Mulagenidars were
asked to pay tax for land in their possession
while the Mulagenidars were asked to pay
the nominal rent to the Muladars as before.
The Mulageni system was not abolished by
the British and it was not abolished by the
government even after Independence. The
Karnataka Land Reforms (Amendment) Act
of 1973 helped many Mulagenidars to buy
cheaply their full ownership and abandon the
Muladars system. However in some cases
the Muladars did not oppose the applications
of their tenants since the amount of rent they
were getting was so very small and it did not
make any difference if they continued as
Muladars or not. In the other variety of
tenancy viz. Chalagenidars the Muladars
opposed the applications but uniformly failed
to win the cases. Also many Mulagenidars
did not apply for full occupancy rights
because the rent they had to pay was so
very small and there was no substantial
difference whether they owned the Muli
rights or not. On many occasions when the
Mulagenidars applied for full occupancy
rights under the Karnataka Land Reforms
(Amendment) Act of 1973 the Muladars
opposed it in the Tribunal hearings. The
Tribunals granted the contention of
Muladars and Their Muli Rights were
protected. The Mulagenidars were not
granted absolute occupancy rights but only
Mulageni rights, just like before, continuing
the system of Muladar or Muli rights or Varga
rights.
Thus the revolutionary Land Reforms Act of
1973 could not abolish the Mulageni system
in these areas although there was much
dilution in the number of those households
coming under the Mulageni system. The
Mulagenidars were considered permanent
tenants and the ownership of the land to
Muladars was in perpetuity.
The system is totally harmless except for the
builders and developers. The builders and
developers of land are a relatively new
breed of businessmen. They either buy the
land themselves or make an arrangement for
building a structure with the occupier of the
land, such as the Mulagenidar. When they
approach a Mulagenidar for a deal to build
and develop on his land, the Muladar
appears to them as an obstacle to their
steady progress. They have to clear the
project with the Muladar also to make the
building safe from future litigations as to the
ownership. They see that the Muladar tenant
is not the absolute owner. This does not
happen in the case of lands that have no
Mula or Varga rights are attached.
The Builders and Developers lobby has
organised a campaign to get the Mula Rights
abolished by legislation. Some of the
eminent people including former Supreme
Court Justices have joined this lobby
upholding their demand as just. But the
government can not abolish the system
unless it arranges to pay compensation to
the Muladars according to the prevailing
market value of the property or at least
proportional to it. Even this comes to an
enormous figure and no one will compensate
the government for such a huge expense out
of the exchequer. If the Builders and
Developers pay the Muladars for their rights
then they will find it absolutely easier and
cheaper to do so rather than go through
expensive process of abolition of the system.
The present rate of Muli Rights is about one
third of the notified market price of the land
in question. In those cases where the
Builders and Developers are themselves
Muladars or closely related to the Muladars
the rate could come to nought.
The Muladars themselves encourage the
abolition of the Mulageni system because
they get more amount than what they would
get by continuing the system , since not
every Mulagenidar is attempting to sell his
possession in the market or enter into an
agreement with a Builder and Developer to
build structure.

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