1.1 The people living in the remote region of North East India, sandwiched between Myanmar and Bangladesh were formerly known as Lushais, now called Mizos. The Lushais landed their country during 1600-1700 A.D. from Burma. The territory is not under British rule and the Lushais are Independent tribes till the British annexed and proclaimed as a part of dominions on the 6th September, 1895. (Vide proclamation-Gazette of India, September, 7, 1895). The concept of absolute state ownership of lands was prevalent in the Lushai Hills during the Chief’s rule. The Mizo Chief regarded himself as the absolute proprietor of all lands within his territorial jurisdiction (Lal ram).
1.2 Historically, all lands in Mizoram was vested in the Chief’s of various clans, to be held in trust for villagers of that particular village. Land was allocated by the Chief or chief representatives (Upa te) – upon application by villagers.
1.3 On the 1st April, 1898 the Lushai Hills District was formed and placed under the administration of the Chief Commissioner of Assam.
1.4 Prior to the advent of the British, each village would be having a Chief of its own who had absolute rights over the lands within his jurisdiction. The British followed a deliberate policy of minimum interference on the day to day affairs of the Mizos. The institution of Chieftainship was utilized by them solely for the purpose of maintenance of law and order. Subsequently, the territory was declared as excluded area under the Government of India Act, 1935 and was placed directly under the Governor resulting in very little or no contact with the outside world.
1.5 In 1898, Col. J. Shakespear, the then Superintendent of the Lushai Hills District, formulated the Land settlement policy which envisaged that each chief would get certain area within which his people or subject could move about and cultivate land as they like. In doing so the area under each chief and his people was clearly demarcated. The British Officers left the land revenue system as they found it. The entire area that formed the domain of the chief was known as ‘Ram’. The superintendents of the then Lushai Hills District recognized the right of the chiefs. The whole territory of Lushai Hills district was divided into 16 circles with an officer in charge and one interpreter posted in each circle. The interpreter’s duty was to facilitate smooth relations between a chief and the officer in-charge of the circle. The circle officers were responsible to the superintendent of the District. The Superintendent on behalf of the Government, was empowered to interfere in the demonstration of the chiefs only when they went beyond their respective jurisdictions. Practically, the system of chieftainship was not stable and strong as it was in the Pre-British days in Mizoram.
1.6 After Independence, Mizoram became an Autonomous District of Assam under the 6th Schedule to the constitution of India. The name, The Lushai Hills District” was changed into Mizo District and the Mizo District Council was formed on 25th April, 1952. Under this provision, the District Council have power to make laws with respect to :-
(a) “The allotment, occupation or use, or the setting apart of land, other than any Land which is a reserved forest, for the purposes of agriculture or grazing or for residential or other non-agricultural purposes likely to promote the interests of the inhabitants of any village or town:
Provided that nothing in such laws shall prevent the compulsory acquisition of any land, whether occupied or un-occupied, for public purposes by the Government of the state concerned in accordance with the law for the time being in force authorizing such acquisition;
(b) The management of any forest not being a reserved forest;
(c) The regulation of the practice of jhum or other forms of shifting cultivation;
(d) The establishment of village or town Committees or Councils and their powers;
(e) The inheritance of property;
This led to the total extinction of chieftainship.
1.7 By an Act called the Assam-Lushai District (Acquisition of Chief’s Rights) Act, 1954 and as subsequently amended in 1955; chieftainship was abolished. The administration of chiefs was transferred to the jurisdiction of the Mizo District Council with effect from 1st April, 1954 and to the Pawi-Lakher Regional Council (born in 23rd April, 1953) with effect from 15th April, 1954. The abolition of chieftainship was regarded as the First Land Reforms measure of the Government. Following the abolition of Chieftainship, the administration of Land and Land Revenue then passed into the hands of the District Council. During the period of Mizo District Council a number of Regulation, Act and Rules had been framed for the administration of Land and Land Revenue administration. Such legislation still form the basis of Revenue Administration in Mizoram.
1.8 With the implementation of the North Eastern Areas (Re-organisation) Act, 1971 in 1972, Mizoram became a Union Territory on 21st January, 1972. As a sequel to the signing of the historic memorandum of settlement between Government of India and the Mizo National Front in 1986, Mizoram was granted statehood on 20th February, 1987. Mizoram has an area of 21,087.00 Square Kms. The state is divided into eight districts and twenty three sub-divisions.
1.9 It is one of the fundamental requirement that the Government must protect the property rights of its citizen. To ensure this, it has to have documents which records the particulars of the ownership of lands and also to collect the share of Government in the shape of Land revenue or tax/ fees in respect of use of land property. It was therefore imperative to survey and measure land, classify and revenue rates be fixed for the purpose of conferment of ownership rights to individuals or organizations etc. Thus the Department of Land Revenue & Settlement was created on the 21st January, 1972 to take up such duties and responsibilities of survey, settlement and preparation of Land Records including collection of revenue/ taxes. The Land Revenue & Settlement Department was upgraded to Major Department with effect from 29th March, 1994.