Madras Estate Land Act 1908 (Act I of 1908)
“private land” means —
Section 3(10) of the Madras Estates Land Act (I of 1908) defines “private land” as: —
“– in the case of an estate within the meaning of Sub-clauses (a), (b), (c) or (e) of Clause (2) means the domain or home-farm land of the landholder by whatever designation known, such a kambattam, khas, sir or pannai and includes all land which is proved to have been cultivated as private land by the landholder himself, by his own servants or by hired labour, with his own or hired stocks, for a continuous period of twelve years immediately before the commencement of this Act….”
‘Ryoti land ‘ means —
Section 3(16) of the Madras Estates Land Act (I of 1908) defines ‘ryoti land’ thus:–
‘Ryoti land ‘ means cultivable land in an estate other than private land but does not include
(a) beds and bunds of tanks and of supply, drainage surplus or irrigation channel;
(b) threshing floor, cattle-stands, village sites, and other lands situated in any estate which are set apart for the common use of the villagers; and
(c) lands granted on service tenure either free of rent or on favourable rates of rent if granted before the passing of this Act or free of rent if granted after that date, so long as the service tenure subsists.
From the above definition of ryoti land the beds and bunds of tanks would not form part of a ryoti land. That would not necessarily mean that they would form part of the private land.
“Tank” and “Tank Bed”
Neither the word ‘tank’ nor the words ‘tank bed’ are defined either under the Madras Estates Land Act (I of 1908) or under the Abolition Act. In ordinary parlance a tank may denote any depression storing water varying in size from a pond to a lake. Ordinarily a tank is closed by an embankment on all sides consisting of earth or masonry or both. In an estate the tank bed is not communal poromboke. The property in the tank bed situate within the ambit of the estate would naturally vest in the proprietor. But his rights would be restricted in a tank which is a source of irrigation for the lands in the estate. Such a tank should be preserved as such, and the landholder would have no power to destroy the same but would on the contrary be bound to maintain and repair it. The right of the ryots in regard to such tanks would be in the nature of easements, but not a proprietary one.
(Excerpts from the judgment of K.S. Lakshmipathy Nayakar vs The State Of Madras reported in (1959) 2 MLJ 254)