PATTĪDĀRĪ, lit. co-sharing or shareholding, was, like misldārī, a system of land tenure during the Sikh period. The basic principle was traceable to the time honoured institution of joint family and inheritance of property in equal shares by descendants (male only) whenever a division took place, the rule of primogeniture being practically unknown in India as far as the common people were concerned. Paṭṭī in Punjabi means a share as well as partnership and Pattīdār is a shareholder, co-sharer, or partner. The system emerged in the initial stages of Sikh rule in the Punjab. As Henry T. Prinsep records in his The Origin of the Sikh Power in the Punjab and Political Life of Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1834), "When the Misals acquired their territorial possessions, it became the first duty of the chiefs to partition out the lands, towns, and villages among those who considered themselves as hairng made the conquest, shamil, or in common." A village allotted by the sardār or chief of a misl to a "sarkarda or leader of the smallest party of horse that fought under the standard of the Misal" was held jointly by the allottee's family or was further divided according to common law of inheritance. Or, sometimes, a single village would be allotted to more than one person or family, in which case that land would be divided into proportionate shares called paṭṭīs or taraf, lit. side or direction, each sharer owning a taraf. The residential area of the village would also be earmarked into wards usually on clan basis, which even now are called pattīs in Punjabi. More often than not, the entire village land was not so divided and a portion was kept as shāmlāt or village common managed by the pañchāyat or council of village elders. Land held on pattīdārī tenure was heritable, but could not be alienated by sale though it could be mortgaged. Division and redivision of a pattīdārī holding gradually reduced the holders to the status of subsistence jāgīrdārs and, their tenure being permanent and hereditary, they were ultimately absorbed into the general category of peasant proprietors.
Harī Rām Gupta