AdvocateKhoj
Login : Advocate | Client
Home Post Your Case My Account Law College Law Library
    

Supreme Court Judgments


Latest Supreme Court of India Judgments 2018

Subscribe

RSS Feed img






Gwalior Rayon Silk Mfg. Co. Ltd. Vs. Custodian of Vested Forests Palghat & Anr [1990] INSC 125 (6 April 1990)

Shetty, K.J. (J) Shetty, K.J. (J) Sahai, R.M. (J)

CITATION: 1990 AIR 1747 1990 SCR (2) 401 1990 SCC Supl. 785 JT 1990 (2) 130 1990 SCALE (1)689

ACT:

Kerala Private Forests (Vesting and Assignment) Act, 1971: Sections 2(f)(1)(i)(C), 3(1) and (2): 'Private For- est'--Vesting in Government--'Any other agricultural crop'--Does not include all species of trees including eucalyptus plantations--Only fruit bearing trees are exclud- ed--Land planted with eucalyptus--Held vested in Government --Object of the Act explained.

Kerala Land Reforms Act, 1963 (As amended by Amendment Act 35 of 1969): Section 2(47)(iv): Scope and meaning ac- corded to 'Private Forest'--Held inapplicable to Kerala Private Forests (Vesting and Assignment) Act, 1971:

The Madras Preservation of Private Forests Act, 1949--Object of.

Statutory interpretation: Words defined in a statute--Judicial interpretation of--Does not afford a guide to construction of the same words in another statute unless the statutes are pari materia legislations.

Legislative intention--Ascertainment of--Judges should not only listen to the voice of the legislature but also listen attentively to what the legislature does not say.

Words and Phrases: 'Agriculture', 'Agricultural Crop', 'Garden' and 'Nilam '--meaning of.

HEAD NOTE:

The appellant company was maintaining a large eucalyptus plantation for captive consumption in its production of Rayon Grade Pulp. The State of Kerala claimed that as a consequence of the Kerala Private Forests (Vesting and Assignment) Act, 1971, the eucalyptus plantation being a 'private forest' stood transferred to and vested in it. The company resisted the State's claim on the ground that the term 'private forest' excludes the eucalyptus plantation.

The High Court decided the question in favour of the State and against the appellant.

402 In the appeal to this Court, it was contended on behalf of the appellant that since the eucalyptus plantation was covered by the expression 'any other agricultural crop' in section 2(47)(iv) of the Kerala Land Reforms Act, 1963 the similar expression used in section 2(f)(1)(i)(C) of the Vesting Act, 1971 must also carry the same meaning.

Dismissing the appeal, this Court.

HELD: 1. Judicial interpretation given to the words defined in one statute does not afford a guide to construc- tion of the same words in another statute unless the stat- utes are pari materia legislations. [408G]

1.1 The definition of 'private forest' in the Kerala Land Reforms Act is not just the same as the definition of 'private forest' in the Vesting Act. Indeed, there is a vast difference between the two. Two separate definitions have been provided in the Vesting Act; the first is applicable to the Malabar district where the Madras Preservation of Pri- vate Forests Act, 1949 applied immediately before the ap- pointed day; the second concerned is in relation to the remaining areas in the State of Kerala. The definition of 'private forest' as is applicable to the Malabar district is not general in terms but limited to the areas and lands to which the Madras Preservation of Private Forests Act ap- plied, and exempts there from lands described under sub- clauses (A) to (D). This significant reference to this Act in the definition of 'private forest' in the Vesting Act makes all the difference in the case. The scheme of this Act appears to be that if the land is shown to be private forest on the date on which the Act came into force, it would continue to be a forest, even if there was subsequent re- plantation. [408H; 409A-D]

1.2 The lands involved in this appeal were all forests as defined in the Madras Preservation of Private Forests Act and continued to be so when the Vesting Act came into force.

Therefore, it seems inappropriate to transplant the meaning accorded to 'private forest' from the Kerala Land Reforms Act to the Vesting Act. [409E-F] State of Kerala v. Anglo American D.T.T. Co., [1980] Ker. L.T. 215 and State of Kerala v.K.C. Moosa Haji, A.I.R. 1984 Ker. 149 referred to.

Malankara Rubber and Produce Co. v. State of Kerala & Ors., [1973] 1 SCR 399, Held inapplicable.

403 State of Kerala v. Gwalior Rayon Silk Mfg. (Wvg.) Co. Ltd., [1974] 1 SCR 671, referred to.

2. The term 'agriculture' and 'agricultural crop' have wider as well as narrower connotation. The wider concept covers both the primary or basic as well as the subsequent operations. It takes within its fold among other things, the products of the land which have some utility either for consumption or for trade and commerce including forest products such as timber, sal and piyasal, trees, casuarina plantations, tendu leaves, coconuts etc. Of course there must be present all throughout the basic idea that there must be cultivation of the land in the sense of tilling of the lands, sowing of the seeds, planting and similar work done in the land. The forest growth or spontaneous growth of any product, plants or trees, however, would be outside the characteristic of agricultural products or operations.

[407D-F] Commissioner of 1. T. West Bengal v. Raja Benoy Kumar Sahas Roy, [1958] SCR 101, referred to.

2.1 Under Section 3(1), private forests vest in Govern- ment. Subsection (2) however, excludes from such vesting lands within the ceiling limits applicable to an owner if they are under his personal cultivation. Cultivation for this purpose 'includes cultivation of trees or plants of any species'. The explanation to sub-section (2) makes this aspect beyond doubt. The lands used for the cultivation of any kind of tree, fruit-bearing or yielding only timber or pulp are not vested under section 3 sub-section (2). The legislature has thus excluded from vesting under section 3 sub-section (2) the trees of every variety. But while pro- viding for exclusion under sub-clause (C) of section 2(f)(1)(i), the legislature could not have again thought of trees or plants of all kinds. It seems to have considered only fruit-bearing trees and not of other species. Sub- clause (C) refers to lands which are principally cultivated with cashew or other fruit-bearing trees. It next refers to lands which are principally cultivated with any other agri- cultural crop. If the legislature had intended to' use the term 'agricultural crop' in a wide sense so as to take within its fold all species of trees fruit-bearing or other- wise, it would be unnecessary to have the first limb denot- ing only the cashew or other fruit-bearing trees. Therefore, there is no indication that the words 'any other agricultur- al crop' in sub-clause (C) are quite wide enough to compre- hend all species of trees including eucalyptus plantations.

These words exclude only fruit-bearing trees. [410H; 41 1A- D] State of Kerala v. Amalgamated Malabar Estates, A.I.R. 1980 404 Ker. 137; State of Kerala v. Malayalam Plantation Ltd., A.I.R. 1981 Ker. 1 and State of Kerala v.K.C. Moosa Haji & Ors., A.I.R. 1984 Ker. 149, approved.

3. In seeking legislative intention, judges not only listen to the voice of the legislature but also listen atten tively to what the legislature does not say. [410G-H]

CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal No. 698 of 1980.

From the Judgment dated the 2.5.1979 of the Kerala High Court in M.F.A. 346 of 1978.

M.M. Abdul Khader, Darshan Singh and Praveen Kumar for the Appellant.

P.S. Poti, P.K. Pillai (N.P.), T.T. Kunnhikannan and Ms. Malini Poduval for the Respondents.

The Judgment of the Court was delivered by K. JAGANNATHA SHETTY, J. This appeal by leave from a Full Bench judgment of the Kerala High Court raises a short question of construction of the plain words of a term 'private forest' as defined in a statutory enactment called "The Kerala Private Forest (Vesting and Assignment) Act, 197 1 (called shortly "The Vesting Act"). The High Court has decided the question in favour of the State and against the appellant. The judgment of the High Court has since been reported in AIR 1980 Kerala 137. The view expressed by the High Court has been subsequently affirmed by another Full Bench in State of Kerala v. Malayalam Plantation Ltd., AIR 1981 Kerala 1 and reiterated by a larger Bench of five Judges in State of Kerala v.K.C. Moosa Haji & Ors., AIR 1984 Kerala 149, Losing the construction argument, the appellant has appealed to this Court.

The facts of the case are immaterial for the purpose of this judgment, save to state in the barest outline that the appellant is the Rayon Silk Manufacturing Company registered in the State of Madhya Pradesh. One of its industrial under- takings is located in Bilakootam, Mavoor in Kozhikode Dis- trict, Kerala State. This establishment pro- 405 duces Rayon Grade Pulp, using Bamboo Eucalyptus and other species of wood as basic raw material. It has a large euca- lyptus plantation coveting thousands of acres, maintained as captive raw material for use in the factory. The State says that as a consequence of the Vesting Act, the eucalyptus 8plantation being a private forest and not excluded there- from is vested in the State with no fight, title and inter- est subsisting with the company. The claim of the company, however, is that the term 'private forest' as defined under the Vesting Act, excludes the eucalyptus plantation.

'Private forest' has been defined in the Vesting Act as well as under the Kerala Land Reforms Act (Act 1 of 1964) as amended by Amendment Act 35 of 1969 ("The KLR Act"). Since counsel for the appellant largely depends upon the judicial construction of the definition of 'private forest' in the KLR Act, it is necessary that we should set out hereunder both the definitions placed alongside with each other:

THE KERALA PRIVATE FORESTS THE KERALA LAND REFORMS (VESTING AND ASSIGNMENT) ACT (ACT 1 OF 1964) AS ACT, 1971 AMENDED BY THE KERALA LAND REFORMS (AMENDME- NT ACT 35/1969) (Act 26 of 1971)

(AS AMENDED BY ACT 5 OF 2. Definitions. In this 1978) Act unless the context otherwise requires-

2. Definitions: In this Act (47) 'private forest' unless the context otherwise means a forest which is requires- not owned by the Govern ment but does not inclu- de- (f) 'private forest' means (1) in relation to the Mala- (i) areas which are waste bar district referred to in and are not enclaves sub-section (2) of Section within wooded areas;

5 of the States Reorganisation Act, 1956 (ii) areas which are gardens or nilams;

(Central Act 37 of 1956) (i) any land to which the (iii) areas which are Madras Preservation of Pri- planted with tea, coffee, vate Forests Act, 1949 (Madras cocoa, rubber, cardomom Act XXVIII of 1949) applied or cinnamon; and immediately (iv) other areas which are culti- 406 before the appointed day excluding- vated with (A) Lands which are gardens or pepper, arecanut coco- nilams as defined in the Kerala nut, cashew or other Land Reforms Act, 1963 (1 of fruit bearing trees or 1964) are cultivated with any other agricultural crop;.

(B) Lands which are used princi- pally for the cultivation of tea, coffee, cocoa, rubber, cardomom, or cinnamom and lands used for any purpose ancillary to the cultiva- tion of such crops or for the pre- paration of the smae for the market.

Explanation--Lands used for the construction of office buildings, godowns, factories, quarters for workmen, hospitals, schools and playgrounds shall be deemed to be lands used for purposes ancillary to the cultivation of such crops;

(C) lands which are principally cultivated with cashew or other fruit-bearing trees or are princi- pally cultivated with any other agricultural crop;

(D) sites of buildings and lands appurtenant to and necessary for the convenient enjoyment or use of, such buildings;

(ii) any forest not owned by the Government, to which the Madras Preservation of Private Forests Act, 1949 did not apply, inclu- ding waste lands which are encla- ves within wooded areas.

407 (2) in relation to the remaining areas in the State of Kerala, any forest not owned by the Government, including waste lands which are enclaves within wooded areas.

Explanation: For the purposes of this clause, a lane shall be deemed to be a waste land notwithstanding the existence thereon of scattered trees or shrubs;" We may first examine the scope of the definition of 'private forest' under Section 2(47) of the KLR Act. It means a forest which is not owned by the Government, excluding thereby four kinds of areas specified under sub-clauses (i) to (iv). The latter part of sub-clause (iv) contains the words" ..... Other areas cultivated with any other agricultural crop". The terms 'agriculture' and 'agricultural crop' have wider as well as narrower connotation. The wider concept covers both the primary or basic as well as the subsequent operations. It takes within its fold among other things, the products of the land which have some utility either for consumption or for trade and commerce including forest products such as timber, sal and piyasal trees, casuarina plantations, tendu leaves, horranuts etc. (See: Commis- sioner of Income Tax, West Bengal, Calcutta v. Raja Benoy Kumar Sahas Roy, [1958] SCR 101 at 156. Of course there must be present all throughout the basic idea that there must be cultiva- tion of land in the sense of tilling of the lands, sowing of the seeds, planting and similar work done in the land. The forest growth or spontaneous growth of any product, plants or trees, however, would be outside the characteristic of agricultural products or operations.

In Malankara Rubber and Produce Co. v. State of Kerala & Ors., [1973] 1 SCR 399, this Court while examining the scheme of KLR Act with particular reference to Chapter III therein observed that 'lands under eucalyptus or teak which are the result of agricultural operations normally would be agricultural lands, but not lands which are covered by eucalyptus or teak growing spontaneously as in a jungle or a forest.' This is the wider concept of agricultural crop, perhaps attributed to the latter part of sub-clause (iv) of the definition under Section 2(47) of the KLR Act.

The latter part of sub-clause (iv) of Section 2(47) of the KLR 408 Act, counsel for the appellant contended, is practically the same as the second limb of sub-clause (C) of Section 2(f)(1)(i) of the Vesting Act. It was claimed that since eucalyptus plantation is covered by the expression 'any other agricultural crop' in Section 2(47) sub-clause (iv) of the KLR Act, Section 2(f)(1)(i) sub-clause (C) of the Vest- ing Act with similar words must also carry the same meaning.

It was emphasised that the KLR Act and the Vesting Act constitute a Code of agrarian reform and they are cognate legislations with the Vesting Act as supplementary to the KLR Act. The expression 'any other agricultural crop' used in both the enactments while defining 'private forest' must therefore, receive the same meaning as otherwise, it would lead to anomalies. This is the line of argument for the appellant.

This whole line of arguments with respect, is hard to accept. As Felix Frankfurter, J. said: "Legislation is a form of literary composition. But construction is not an abstract process equally valid for every composition, not even for every composition whose meaning must be judicially ascertained. The nature of the composition demands awareness of certain presuppositions ...... And so, the significance of an enactment, its antecedents as well .,as .its later history, its relation to other enactments, all may be rele- vant to the construction of words for one purpose and in one-setting but not for another. Some words are confined to their history; some are starting points for history. 'Words are intellectual and moral currency. They come from the legislative mint with some intrinsic meaning. Sometimes it remains unchanged. Like currency, words sometimes appreciate or depreciate in value". The learned Judge further stated:

"Legislation has an aim; it seeks to obviate some mischief, to supply an inadequacy, to effect a change of policy, to formulate a plan of government. That aim, that policy is not drawn, like nitrogen, out of the air; it is evinced in the language of the statute, as read in the light of other external manifestations of purpose. That is what the Judge must seek and effectuate." (See: Courts, Judges and Politics by Walter F. Murphy: 'Some Reflections of the Reading of Statutes' by Felix Frankfurter).

Judicial interpretation given to the words defined in one statute does not afford a guide to construction of the same words in another statute unless the Statutes are pari materia legislations. In the present case, the aim and object of the two legislations are not similar in the first place. Secondly, the definition of 'private forest' in the KLR Act is not just the same as the definition of 'private forest' in the Vesting Act. Indeed, there is a vast differ- ence in between the two. The object of the Vesting Act was to provide for the Vesting in the Government 409 of private forest in the State of Kerala for the assignment thereof to the agriculturists and agricultural labourers for cultivation. The preamble of the Act provides that such agricultural lands should be so utilised as to increase the agricultural production in the State and to promote the welfare of the agricultural population in the State. Two separate definitions have been provided in the Vesting Act;

the first is applicable to the Malabar district where the Madras Preservation of Private Forests Act, 1949 ('The MPPF Act') applied immediately before the appointed day; the second concerned is in relation to the remaining areas in the State of Kerala. The definition of 'private forest' as is applicable to the Malabar district is not general in terms but limited to the areas and lands to which the MPPF Act applied and exempts therefrom lands described under sub-clauses (A) to (D). This significant reference to MPPF Act in the definition of 'priVate forest' in the Vesting Act makes all the difference in the case. The MPPF Act was a special enactment. It was enacted by the erstwhile Madras State to preserve the private forests in the district of Malabar and erstwhile South Kannara District. The Scheme of that Act has been explained by several decisions of the Kerala High Court and that scheme appears to be that if the land is shown to be private forest on the date on which the MPPF Act,came into force, it would continue to be a forest, even if there was subsequent replantation. (See: State of Kerala v. Anglo American D.T.T. Co., [1980] Ker. L.T. 215 and State of Kerala v. K.C. Moosa Haji, (supra) (FB)-AIR 1984 Ker. 149 at 154-155.) It is not in dispute that the lands involved in this appeal were all forests as defined in the MPPF Act, 1949 and continued to be so when the Vesting Act came into force in 1971. In Malankara case (supra), this Court was not con- cerned with the lands covered by the MPPF Act, and denuded thereafter of forest growth and cultivated with fresh re- plantation. Therefore, it seems inappropriate to transplant the meaning accorded to 'private forest' from the KLR Act to the Vesting Act. That wide concept cannot fit into the new legal source.

In State of Kerala v. Gwalior Rayon Sm. Mfg. (Wvg.) Co. Ltd., [1974] 1 SCR 67 1, this Court while upholding the constitutional validity of the Vesting Act has observed that the Forest Lands in the State of Kerala has attained a peculiar character owing to the geography and climate and the evidence available showed that the vast areas of these forests are still capable of supporting a large agricultural plantations. That much is clear from the following observa- tions (at 683):

"It is therefore, manifest that when the legislature stated in 410 the preamble that the private forests are agricultural lands, they merely wanted to convey that they are lands which by and large could be prudently and profitably ex- ploited for agricultural purposes." There is thus a judicial recognition of the distinction between private forest in Travancore-Cochin area in Kerala State and the private forest in Malabar district. This distinction by itself is sufficient to dispel the anomalies suggested by counsel for the appellant.

Look at the definition. Sub-clause (A) refers to gardens or nilams as defined in the KLR Act. 'Garden' means lands used principally for growing coconut trees, arecanut trees or pepper vines or any two or more of the same. 'Nilam' means lands adapted for the cultivation of paddy. Sub-clause (B) deals with what may be called plantation crops, cultiva- tion of which in the general sense would be cultivation of agricultural crops. Such agricultural crops are by name specified. Lands used for any purpose ancillary to such cultivation or for preparation of the same for the market are also included there under. Next follows sub-clause (C).

It first refers to lands which are principally cultivated with cashew or other fruit-bearing trees. It thus refers to only the fruit beating trees. It next refers to 'lands which are principally cultivated with any other agricultural crop.

If the legislature had intended to use the term 'agricultur- al crop' in a wide sense so as to take within its fold all species of trees fruit-beating or otherwise, it would be unnecessary to have the first limb denoting only the cashew or other fruit-beating trees. It may be significant to note that the Legislature in each sub-clause (A) to (C) has used the words to identify the different categories of crops or trees. The words used in every sub-clause too have "associa- tions, echoes and overtones". While construing such words, judges must, as Felix Frankfurter, J., said "retain the associations, hear the echoes and capture the overtones" (supra p. 414). When so examined and construed, we do not discover any indication that the words in sub-clause (C) "any other agricultural crop" are quite wide enough to comprehend all species of trees including eucalyptus planta- tions.

It is said, indeed rightly, that in seeking legislative intention, judges not only listen to the voice of the legis- lature but also listen attentatively to what the legislature does not say. Let us compare the wordings in Section 3 with those of sub-clause (C). Under Section 3 sub-section (1), private forests vest in Government. Sub-clause (2) however, excludes from such vesting lands within the ceiling limits 411 applicable to an owner if they are under his personal culti- vation. Cultivation for this purpose "includes cultivation of trees or plants of any species". The explanation to sub- section (2) makes this aspect beyond doubt. The lands used for the cultivation of any kind of tree, fruit bearing or yielding only timber or pulp are not vested under Section 3 sub-section (2). The legislature has thus excluded from vesting under Section 3 sub-section (2) the trees of every variety. But while providing for exclusion under sub-clause (C), the legislature could not have again thought of trees or plants of all kinds. It seems to have considered only fruit-bearing trees and not of other species. If the inten- tion was otherwise, the sub-clause(C) would have been in a different language.

In our view as a matter of pure construction untram- melled by authority, the words used in the latter part of sub-clause (C) could not take within its fold all varieties of trees and it could exclude only fruit-bearing trees.

This is also the conclusion of the High Court not only in the impugned judgment under appeal but also in the subse- quent two decisions; Malayalam Plantation Limited and K.C. Maosa Haji cases (supra).

In the result the appeal fails and is dismissed. In the circumstances of the case, however, we make no order as to costs.

T.N.A. Appeal dis- missed.

 Back


 



Client Area | Advocate Area | Blogs | About Us | User Agreement | Privacy Policy | Advertise | Media Coverage | Contact Us | Site Map
powered by nubia  |  driven by neosys