Monday, 12 February, 2007

A Note on “ Kanam ”

“Kanam” was one of the modes of land tenures prevalent in the erstwhile Malabar including the present Kozhikode District. It was the ‘highest’ form of tenancy. The holder of Kanam right in course of time acquired superior powers as against the real owner who had granted the kanam right.

Kanam entrustment was usually for a period of twelve years. Kanom entrustment was renewable at the option of the tenant after the expiry of 12 years The holder was free to make any improvement in the Kanam property and enjoy the fruits of the same by paying a comparatively small amount as yearly rent and a nominal share of the crops. If the land lord desired to resume the land at the expiry of the lease-period , he had to pay the full value of all the improvements made by the holder of Kanam. It was also a transferable right. The net result was that in most cases landlords were totally incapable of resuming the land after paying value of improvements to the Kanamdar ( lessee ) and the Kanamdar in most cases became richer and more powerful than the land lords and “Kanam” right became more valuable than the Jenm right itself. For, the Jenmi ( land lord) could claim right over the ‘land’ only while the Kanamdar had the full right over the trees, structures , buildings etc on the Kanam land. It was very easy to purchase the Jenm right of a land while very many could not afford to purchase the improvements that belonged to the Kanamdar.

Kerala Land Reforms Act came into force in 1964. The right of the land lords and intermediaries on agricultural lands was taken over by the Government with effect from 01-01-1970.

After the said date the land lord’s right had to be purchased through Land Tribunals established for the said purpose . By virtue of the provisions of the said Act landlords were permanently barred from resuming leasehold properties including Kanam lands .Even the Government could not resume any agricultural land from the person in possession except on the ground that such person holds land in excess of the ceiling limits.

Jenm right is granted to cultivating tenants by “Certificates of Purchase ” issued by Land Tribunals. Since absence of Certificate does not affect the title and enjoyment of the property many people have not come forward to purchase the Jenm right. And absence of Jenm right does not affect the title over land in any way. Land Tribunals in the State are being closed down one after the other due to lack of sufficient work for the staff.

Certificates of Purchase issued by Land tribunals are treated as pucca Title Deeds. In the absence of any registered title deed, Certificate of Purchase alone is the document of title for all practical purposes like sale , mortgage etc. Hence it is the duty of any Purchaser or Mortgagee of immovable property to call for Certificate of Purchase also and obtain custody of the same, if available, in order to avoid any future disputes. However if it is assured that Certificate of Purchase is not issued at all in a particular case, the mortgagee/purchaser can proceed with the proposed transaction Hence absence of Certificate of Purchase is not a defect in title , while it will be treated as a lapse on the side of the mortgagee/transferee if Certificate of Purchase already issued also is not obtained and kept along with the registered Title Deed.

1 comment:

  1. does having leasehold and kanam rights mean absolute ownership for a property bought in 1954 in malabar


Thanks for visiting this blog. All comments are moderated before posting here.

We will try to give feedback to your comment as soon as possible (Check this page at a later stage). In urgent cases, please contact us directly by email or phone. For contact details, visit

Copyright 2007 Mathew Associates. All Rights Reserved. Kerala Law K M Mathew

legal information is not the same as legal advice -- the application of law to an individual's specific circumstances. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a lawyer if you want professional assurance that our information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate to your particular situation.