Partition of Tharavad

Raman Mootha Panicker was managing the Tharavad efficiently but managing the revenue collection of vast area of land, which was mostly under lease, with absolute authority of the Mootha Panicker (Karanavar) was creating a lot of resentment and discontent among the members, whose number had also considerably increased over a period of time.  The Tharavad had branched out to 6 large Thavazhis.  The Second World War had already started and it had its impact in Kerala also.  Famine conditions prevailed and there was ration for all essential commodities, including food articles and even cloth, etc.  There was difficulty in collecting Pattam – lease revenue from tenants.  The women of the Tharavad had to frequently keep requesting for money for their increasing necessities. Getting an additional room when the number of children grew was very difficult for a mother.  Educational opportunity was not available to all members on account of the expenditure involved.  The protest and frequent complaints of the members led the Karanavar, Raman Mootha Panicker (49) to chart the modalities of partition. In the year 1949 a Committee under the chairmanship of Sreedhara Panicker (108) (Deputy Collector) was formed. Paramesvara Panicker (105), Narayana Panicker alias Kuttappa Panicker (95), Chappa Panicker (98), Chinnappa Panicker alias Kunjhunni Panicker (89) and Govinda Panicker alias Balan Panicker (153) were the members of the Committee.  An agreement was drafted giving the details regarding the mode of partition.  At that time there were 82 members who were entitled to get share and their names appeared in the agreement. As per the agreement Raman Mootha Panicker was to manage the Tharavad properties as before till the partition was effected and he was to give the required funds to the committee to meet the expenses of the partition work.  When Raman Mootha Panicker died in 1950, the chairman of the Committee, Sreedhara Panicker (108) was authorised to manage the properties, which he did till his death in 1951.  Then a general body meeting of the members of the Committee was held and Cheriya Ukkanta Panicker (74) was made the chairman.

During this time Lakshmikutty Amma (93) and her children filed a suit for partition (in the year 1953 as O.S.42/53) at Ottappalam Sub Court (since Ponnani Taluk was under Palakkad District then).  The case was filed mainly because the Committee had not considered resolving some of the specific grievances of the complainant.  After 3 years (i.e., in 1956) the case was withdrawn, since the Committee sorted out their specific complaints.

Again there were hardships and ground of complaint for many members and immediately another suit was filed for partition in the year 1956 (O.S.18/56) at Ottappalam Sub Court by Bhanumathi Amma (161) and children. As a result the court appointed a receiver –Chinnappa Panicker alias Kunjhunni Panicker (89), who was an advocate.  Later one N.Damodara Menon, advocate was appointed as the receiver.  During the time of receiver’s administration each member was given Rs.25/- and 6 Paras of paddy per month towards maintenance and this arrangement continued for about 14 years, till the partition was over.  Elaborate works regarding measuring of lands and determining the assets went on at a snail’s pace during this long period.  The receiver’s salary was Rs.3000/= per month which he was promptly drawing, while the members’ monthly maintenance of Rs.25/- and 6 Paras of paddy each was never given monthly, but on a consolidated basis, after the Pattam – lease revenue collection once in 4 or 6 months.  Education of young members was considerably affected because of this system and whatever was given as a consolidated allotment was also insufficient for maintenance for many members.

A meeting of the aggrieved members of the family including women was called at Athit Bhavanam, Venkitangu in the month of February 1963 under the aegis of Bhaskara Panicker (164) which was also attended by some senior members like Chinnappa Panicker (89), etc.  Bhaskara Panicker informed that the delay in partition was on account of the delay in legal proceedings and in order to expedite the completion of the partition process all members would have to submit a jointly signed memorandum to the court.  This was unanimously agreed by all the members who were present and Bhaskara Panicker volunteered to collect the signatures of all the members, which was itself a laborious task.  On the basis of this joint submission the court appointed Bhaskara Panicker himself as the commissioner (on honorary basis).

A preliminary decree was passed by the court fixing shares to various members of the family.  Each member got approximately land yielding 600 Paras of paddy and rent of about Rs.200/= as his/her share.  The Kerala Land Reforms Act passed in the year 1963 (amendment in 1970) however, deprived most of the members (who got as their share lands given on lease) of the fruits of the partition of the extensive landed property once proudly owned by the Tharavad.  It was an irony that in a single stroke, in the form of a Land Reforms Act passed by the then Communist Government of Kerala, many members were reduced to penury immediately after partition.  Since there were long arrears in the Pattam some members managed to negotiate with their tenants (Pattakkar) and as a compromise got some portion of the Pattam dues as a lump-sum.  Anyhow, now most of the family members are financially comfortable, since the younger generation got good education and job, many of them outside Kerala.