HISTORY OF THE TERRITORY AS AN ADMINISTRATIVE UNIT    

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.

Administrative Divisions

     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:

 

Name of Tahsils and Headquarters      Islands under   jurisdiction

 

Minicoy                               Minicoy

                                          Viringili

Androth                               Andrott

                                          Kalpeni

                                         Cheriyam

                                         Kodithala

                                        Tilakkam(i)

                                        Tilakkam(ii)

                                        Tilakkam(iii)

                                           Pitti(i)

                                           Pitti(ii)

Kavaratti                            Kavaratti

                                          Agatti

                                          Bangaram

                                          Tinnakara

                                          Parali(i)

                                           Parali(ii)

                                          Parali(iii)

                                          Kalpitti

                                         Suheli Valiyakara

                                         Suheli Cheriyakara

                                          Pitti(Birds island)

Amini                                 Amini

                                         Kadmat

                                         Kiltan

                                         Chetlat

                                          Bitra

REVENUE SUBDIVISION:-

In 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 subdivision. 

CUSTOMARY LAW OF  INHERITANCE

            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 father. 

            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.  


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