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TABI DARI, lit. subordination or obedience, was a system of non proprietory but permanent and hereditary land tenure during Sikh rule in the Punjab. The holders of tabi`dan tenure were equivalent to those who since Mughal times had been known as muzari ariimaurusi or occupancy tenants. It was prevalent in villages that formed part of permanent jagirs such as dharmarth or charity, madadima `ash or subsistence, and in`am or reward grants and in pattidan holdings. Grantees of such jagirs who were called mu`afidars enjoyed, in addition to a specified part or whole of the revenue income of their lands, some additional rights over their tenants.

Tenants were broadly categorized into muzari`an mustaqui or muzanariimaurusi (hereditary occpancy tenants) and muzarianighair mustaqil (tenantsatwill). During the time of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, muzari` anmustaqil were further categorized into asamianiqadim coming down from old times, purana mustaqil who started cultivating around 1810, and mustaqil jadid who had newly acquired hereditary occupancy rights. The third category covered abadkaran, lit. cultivators of virgin lands, banjarshshigafah, lit. breakers of wastelands, and those who made permanent improvements in their holdings like sinking a well, raising embankments and digging channels for irrigation.

Under the tabi`dan system the occupancy tenants differed from peasant proprietors in that, in addition to land revenue due to the government, they had to make certain additional payments and render occasional service to the landlords. The additional dues most common were called malikana or proprietorship tax (malik, in Punjabi, means proprietor), ranging from 11/2 to 25% of the land revenue, However, they could not be dispossessed of their holdings except, in exceptional cases, when a proprietor required the land for his own use. Even the non cultivating residents had permanent occupancy right over the land on which they had built their houses. The right was inheritable, but not transferable.

References :

1. Banga, Indu, Agrarian System of the Sikhs. Delhi, 1978

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