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Adyar Gopal Parivar
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This website is a renovated website of Adyar Gopal Parivar. I am Dr. Mohan G Shenoy inviting you to visit and explore the website.
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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. 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.