B.S. Ramesh

The land was given to a priest as Inam

His family owed State rent arrears for which land was auctioned

BANGALORE: Katte Ramachar, Astana Purohit of the erstwhile Mysore rulers, once owned 999.15 acres of land in Whitefield, now a much sought-after Bangalore suburb. The land was granted as Inam by the then ruler of Mysore, Chamaraja Wadiyar. But the Ramachar family lost much of it in 1957 when the land was auctioned by the Government to recover rent arrears of Rs. 237.

As it turned out, the Government auctioned 532 acres for Rs. 412.

Now, 52 years later, a descendant of the Ramachar family has approached the High Court seeking compensation.

One of Ramachar’s grandsons, K.V. Seetharam, says the arrears due to the Government were just Rs. 237. However, the auction fetched more money. “Pay me the difference as I am entitled to it,” he says.

Mr. Seetharam wants the Government to pay him the money along with interest from the time it auctioned the land till today. On its part, the Government says that after the Inam Abolition Act was passed by the then Mysore Government, the land no longer vested with the Astana Purohits when it was auctioned. The Government says the Act did away with Inam lands and conferred rights on such land to the Government. Moreover, it says the records relating to the land are not traceable — that is they are either lost or destroyed. Mr. Seetharam is arguing the case on his own in the High Court and claims he does not want even an inch of the 999 acres his ancestors owned. (Even the Government agrees that there is no land left in the area to give to anybody). All he wants is the difference in amount, which, he argues, the Government has pocketed illegally.

The High Court has posted the case for further hearing to the first week of September.

The story of the land in Whitefield unfolds in 1879 when the then Maharaja of Mysore, in appreciation of the services of Astana Purohit Katte Ramachar, granted him 999.15 acres (31.50 vrithim) in Whitefield as inam land. Katte Ramachar decided to lease 300 acres to a British national, referred to only as Mr. White, for cultivation. The land soon passed into the hands of Ramachar’s son, Srinivasachar.

Meanwhile, Whitefield village, near the railway station, grew into an almost exclusive British enclave with large colonial-style mansions, orchards, farms, churches and even an Inn called Waverly Inn. By 1947, Whitefield came to be a preferred destination for the British. Even after Independence, the descendents of Katte Ramachar continued to be in possession of large tracts of land. Since the land was classified as inam, they were required to pay annual rent. To recover the arrears (Rs. 237), the Government auctioned the 532 acres.

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