Jharkhand State

Why British Passed CNT Act & What’s Present Jharkhand Government Doing?

Again let us go back in time, to try to understand what British Government was trying to achieve through the CNT Act.

Writing in 1871, Mr. Oliphant advocated the enforcement by law of the prohibition issued in 1832-33 by Captain (afterwards Sir) Thomas Wilkinson, the Governor-General’s Agent, forbidding Mundas to part with their lands to foreigners or aliens.

(Please note: the words like foreigners or aliens are used in the original CNT Act 1908 drafted by British)

Speaking of the rules under the Chota Nagpur Tenures Act in relation to bhuinhari lands, Mr. Webster, I.C.S., in 1875, pointed out that the right of transfer thereby granted was an innovation.

Writing in 1880, Babu Rakhal Das Haldar stated with regard to Bhuinhari lands that where they were held jointly or under the control of single Head Bhuinhar, no transfer can be made unless with the consent of all the members.

Circa 1908: What Was British Government Trying To Achieve?

Mr. Slacke further said, “It may be asked why not, instead of these sections, employ the Chota Nagpur Tenures Act of 1869? To that I would reply that this Act either does not go far enough or goes too far. It does not provide for intact khuntkutti villages. It provides no prohibition against sale. It does not regulate transfer other than sale. It does not provide for recovery of arrears of the rent. It treats such tenancies as tenures, which they are not. Lastly, it provides for retrospective effect, and that in the present instance could not be asked for.

I would here read to the Council what the Settlement Officer states on the subject, since it describes exactly what is intended to be done:-

In other villages the descendants of the khuntkattidars are treated as ordinary Raiyats by the Munda or by the Dikku Zamindar. Here, too, we must ascertain what lands they have continued to cultivate from the khuntkatti days, and record them as khuntkatti. Even if the Zamindar has enhanced the rent of such lands, contrary to the customary rights of the cultivators, whilst we cannot repair the injury, we can prevent future wrong-doing by recording the real nature of the lands.

The sections in the revised Bill with regard to Mundari-khuntkattidari tenancies embody what the Select Committee, after hearing and examining Mr. Lister, consider to be essential in order to allay, as far as possible, the agitation which has been going on for so long a time among the Mundaris. Their acceptance will greatly weaken the agitation, but will not satisfy the extreme party of the Mundaris, whose wishes are impossible of attainment, as they want the Government to go back to what, in their opinion, was the state of the country before the Hindus entered it.

The objects it is desired to secure are:

(1) to prohibit sale;

(2) to stop all forms of mortgage save that known as Bhugut-bundha, and thereby prevent these savages becoming the serfs of money-lenders;

(3) to follow recognized custom and allow certain forms of transfer to other Mundaris;

(4) to invest the Deputy Commissioner with power to give effect to this prohibition of sale and certain restrictions on transfer;

(5) to provide for the realization of arrears of the rent;

(6) to secure the finality of the record-of-rights.

The joint and individual responsibility of the members of the brotherhood of a Mundari khuntkattidari tenancy with regard to the rent will be noted in the record-of-rights as well as the nature of the right, whatever it may be, of the landlord to resume. As to prohibition of sale, I would point out that the idea of the sale is repugnant to the Mundaris, wherever they have no come under the influence of alien theories.”

This was done more than 100 years ago, during colonial rule.

Circa 2012: Now What Is Arjun Munda Led State Government Up To?

Arjun Munda led coalition government is as usual speaking in different voices on the serious matter of CNT Act, as its 3 main stake-holder parties, viz., BJP, JMM, and AJSU caters to different voting constituents. But it is also true that all the 3 political parties lack the courage to resolve this knotty issue of CNT Act.

Jharkhand State
Jharkhand State

According to the Land-Revenue Department, only 51 Backward Classes (Castes) are covered under the CNT Act, the list of the same are as under:











Dhunia (Muslim)

Dhobi (Muslim)

Chik (Muslim)

Dattali (Muslim)

Kasaab (Kasia-Muslim)

Nut (Muslim)

Meriasun (Muslim)

Halaalkhor or Bhangi (Muslim)

Pamaria (Muslim)

Mali (Malakar)


Kurmi (Mahto)














Pradhan Ji


Pangania (Ranchi)

Tanteez (Tatwa)

Malaar (Malahor)

Bherihar (including Gareri)

Gorhi (including Chabbi)

Bagdi (Dhanbad)

Kaibarta (Dhanbad)

Bhaskar (Palamau)

Saunfa or Sauwa (Singhbhum)

Baihara (Dhanbad and Ranchi)

Karora (Singhbhum)

Maulik (Dhanbad)

Pando (Ranchi)

Bhuinya (whole Chotanagpur except Palamau)

One could clearly observe from the above mentioned list that CNT Act covers many more castes and classes and therefore it would not be easy to amend the act.

So the big question still remains whether the Jharkhand Government has the political will to investigate large-scale instances of land-scams and land-grabbing across the state. We do not think so. As the people with deep-pockets have far greater say in the policy matters than the economically poor ones, for whose protection this CNT Act was originally envisioned.


Footnote: We have seen, lots of interest around CNT Act, so we do recommend this blog to read more about CNT Act.

Sameer Bhagat
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Sameer Bhagat

Author, Salvaging Adidweep.
Sameer Bhagat
Join me
Sameer Bhagat

Written by

Author, Salvaging Adidweep.


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13 comments / Add your comment below

  1. nandan kumar rajak says:

    i am by caste dhobi hindu title Rajak i have a plot in dhanbad jharkhand can i sale my plot?

  2. Skr says:

    I had purchase a plot 2010, belonging to Mahto which now comes under CNT act. Now When I go for Mutation they said it cannot be done because this plot belongs to CNT casts. Now what options left with me?
    Any suggestion?

  3. Navin says:

    I am in process of purchasing a flat in Jharkhand. The agreement deed shows that the land was purchased from Mehatar in 1967. Is it under CNT act, as I have been told that this land tranasation is done before 30yrs (ie in 1967) so it is free from CNT. Pl advise on my e mail [email protected]. Regards Navin

    1. Team Focus
      Team Focus says:

      Mr. Navin,

      We advise you to contact legal expert along with the details for the same.

      Meanwhile, let us share a minor point that the lands in CNT area belong to two broad categories:

      (a) Agriculture land: it was for agriculture purposes.
      (b) Chapparbandi land: it was for building of houses / other constructions.

      The flats built on Chapparbandi land can be purchased / sold / registered by anyone.

      So, you are also advised to check for the “nature” of the land.


  4. vikash says:


  5. sanjay sinha says:

    i had purchased a land from sahu who is not under cnt act , but i am kurmi from bihar , in sale deed i had mention my cast and address of ranchi but i am originally from bihar , is my land is under CNT or it is general land

    1. Team Focus
      Team Focus says:

      Dear Readers,

      Kind Attention: Please take legal opinion from good lawyers on issues pertaining to CNT.


  6. sourabh kumar says:

    I an kurmi from bihar and presently i live in jharkhand. shall i come under CNT act ?? shall i mortgage my land for loan??

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