Cantonment Laws by J.P. Mittal, 2nd Edition at page 3, which may well be reproduced here:-
"Besides municipal administration, another subject that has always loomed large on the Cantonment horizon, is the question of provision of necessary accommodation for military officers near the place of their duty. This led to the issue, from time to time, of certain rules, regulations, and orders by the Government of Bengal, Madras and Bombay presidencies between the years of 1789 and 1899. The regulations were mostly of an identical nature. They had a two-fold object in view, that of ensuring sufficient accommodation for military officers; and that of regulation of the grant of land sites. Some of these regulations are published in this Book. These rules, regulations and orders continue to be the law in force in India even after the enforcement of the British statutes (Application to India) Repeal Act, 1960, (AIR 1973 Delhi 169, AIR 1979 ALL 170).
Under these regulations and orders, officers not provided with Govt. quarters were allowed to erect houses in the cantonment. For this purpose ground was allotted to them with the condition that no right of propriety whatever in the ground was conferred on them and the ground continued to be the property of the State was resumable at the pleasure of the Govt. by giving one month's notice and paying the value of the structures as may have been authorised to be erected. The houses or other property built on such grounds were allowed to be transferred by one military officer to another without restrictions. To civilians these could be transferred only with the prior permission of the officer commanding the station.
With the lapse of time civilians were also encouraged to build bungalows on the Govt. land in the cantonment on the same condition of resumption of the ground as given above and with a further condition that they may be required to rent or sell the same to any military officer. In case of disagreement about the rent or the sale price the same was to be fixed by a committee of arbitration. These tenures under which permission was given to occupy govt. land in the cantonments for construction of bungalows came to be known as 'old grant'. Such permission was given mostly on payment of no rent. This is how a large number of bungalows in the cantonments all over India came in the hands of civilians."
Under Section 280 of the Cantonments Act, 1924, power was given to the Governor General in Council to make rules for the purpose of carrying out the objects of the Cantonments Act, 1924. In particular, these rules could provide for: (a) The manner in which and the authority to which application for permission to occupy land belonging to the Government in a cantonment is to be made; (b) The authority by which such permission may be granted and the conditions to be annexed to the grant of any such permission. In the exercise of this power, the Cantonment Land Administration Rules, 1925 have been framed. These Rules as amended upto 21.12.1935 are produced before us. Under Rule 3 of these Cantonment Land Administration Rules the Military Estates Officer of the cantonment shall prepare and maintain a general land register of all land in the cantonment in the form prescribed in Schedule I and no addition or alteration thereto shall be made except as provided therein. Under Rule 4 of the Rules in force in 1936, the Military Estate Officer was required to maintain a Register of Mutation in which every transfer of right or interest in land in the cantonment which necessitated an alteration of the entries in any of the columns of the general land register, was entered. Under Rule 5 as then in force, every fifth year the general land register shall be rewritten so as to include all changes in the rights or interest in land and a fresh register of mutation shall be opened simultaneously. Under Rule 6, for the purpose of the general land register, land in the cantonment is divided into class A land, class B land and class C land. Rules 7 and 8 deal with these different categories of land.
Under the Cantonment Land Administration Rules, 1925 general land registers are being maintained in respect of Sagar Cantonment. These registers were produced before the High Court and were also produced before us. These are old registers maintained in the form prescribed by the said Rules. In these registers the property in question is shown as being held by S.N. Mukherjee on old grant basis. As explained by Mittal in the passage cited above, the tenures under which permission was given to civilians to occupy Government land in the cantonments for construction of bungalows on the condition of a right of resumption of the ground, if required, came to be know as old grant tenures. Such tenures were given in accordance with the terms of the order No.179 issued by the Governor General in Council in the year 1836. These require that the ownership of land shall remain with the Government and the land cannot be sold by the grantee. Only the house or other property thereon may be transferred. Such transfers would require consent of the officer commanding the station when the transfer is to a person not belonging to the army. In respect of old grant tenure, therefore, the Government retains the right of resumption of land.