The history of Lakshadweep as a distinct administrative unit dates
back only to 1st November, 1956.
During the reign of Kolathiri Rajahs and to some extent the Ali Rajahs,
the administration in the islands was only nominal and the emphasis was more on
trade. Each island was almost a
separate unit though they were under a common ruler.
The islands came to be divided in 1787 when Tippu Sultan accepted the
allegiance of the people of Amindivi Islands and took over those islands in
return for a jaghir from his territory in Chirakkal.
Thus the five islands viz. Amini, Kadmat, Kiltan, Chetlat and Bitra under
Tippu Sultan’s regime while the rest viz Kavaratti, Agatti Andrott, Kavaratti
and Minicoy and other uninhabited islands continued to be under the Arakkal
rule. This division of islands into
two groups continued till 1956. In
1799 with the fall of Tippu Sultan in Shrirangapattana, the Amindivi islands
were annexed by the East India Company and they formed a part of the South
Kanara District. Meanwhile, in
1871, the Southern islands had passed by the conquest of Cannanore to the East
India Company along with other possessions
of the Beebi of Cannanore. The
British control was, however, nominal and the Beebi retained the administration
for an annual tribute. When the
British sequestered the islands for arrears of revenue and took over the
Administration in 1875, it was attached to the malabar District.
The northern islands continued to be a part of the South Kanara District
and the southern islands a part of
the Malabar District till 1st November, 1956 when the States of the
Indian Union were re-organised on linguistic basis and these two groups of
islands were separated from the South Kanara and Malabar Districts of the
erstwhile Madras State to form a Union Territory.
The entire UT is treated as a Uni–District.
After constituting the Union Territory
the territory was divided into four Tahsils for administrative purposes.
Each Tahsil had a Tahsildar at it head.
The headquarters of the Tahsildars and the islands under their
jurisdiction were as follows:
1983, new Revenue Subdivisional set up came into existence whereby the islands
were divided into four major subdivisions.(1) Minicoy
(2) Kavaratti (3) Amini and (4)
Andrott and five minor Subdivisions viz (5) Kalpeni (6) Agatti (7) Kadmat (8)
Kiltan and (9) Chetlat (Consisting islands of Chetlat and Bitra).
Un inhabited islands attached to each island also come under respective
Property in the islands is either ancestral or
self acquired. Ancestral property
is known as Velliazhcha (literally Friday property) pronounced as Belliazhcha in
the Amindivis. Self acquired
property is known as Thinkalazhcha (literally Monday property) on the Laccadives
and Belasha on the Amindivis.
Ancestral or Tarawad property is governed by the Marumakkathayam law of
inheritance prevalent on the Kerala coast.
Howerver, there is no codified law and the practices are governed by
customs which differ from island to island.
Broadly speaking, property right descends through the female line, the
male members having only right for sustenance during their lifetime.
The property is enjoyed by the joint family, consisting of brothers,
sisters and sister’s children. The
children are not entitled for any share in the ;joint family property of their
The property is managed by the eldest male member
known as Karanavan. He is
responsible for the upkeep of the trees in the land and for effecting
improvements to the Tarawad properties. He
can mortgage the Tarawad property for debts incurred and can also repay debts
from the income therefrom. He has,
however, no right to alienate or sell any portion of the joint family property.
The Tarawad properties can be partitioned only with the consent of all
members of the Tarawad. However,
there are local variations in the criteria for partition.
In Kavaratti and Agatti, for example, all the members of the joint family
are eligible for one share. In
Androth and Kalpeni on the other hand division of properties is between branches
or tavazhis of the family. A
tavazhi does not possess the right to mortgage or sell the Tarawad
property so divided and has only the right to enjoy the income from
property so divided and has only the right to enjoy the income from property
during the lifetime of the members of the tavazhi.
Self-acquired or personal property is governed by Muhammadan Law of
succession. Here also there are
variations in different islands. In Androth, succession to personal property is
also governed by Marumakkathayam Law unless it is specifically laid down in the
will of the deceased that it should go to his wife and children. Self-acquired property can, however, be disposed of in any
manner one likes. Under the Muslim
Law followed in the islands, the son is eligible for two shares in the property,
while the daughter gets only one share.
The laws of inheritance are peculiar in Minicoy.
The claim to a house vests in the women of the family and the men have
only the right of residence and maintenance till marriage.
A women who ceases to reside in the family house for any reason thereby
loses her claim to reside in it and cannot return.
Other property follows the ordinary Muhammadan Laws of succession.
The joint family, which has been a notable feature in the islands, is breaking down owning to economic and social factors, the impact of modern ideas and the individualistic outlook of the younger generation.