State of Himachal
Pradesh & Ors Vs.
Shri Mangat Ram  INSC 540 (24 October 1994)
S. (J) Mohan, S. (J) Venkatachalliah, M.N.(Cj)
1995 AIR 665 1995 SCC Supl. (1) 229 JT 1995 (2) 491 1994 SCALE (4)718
respondent purchased land measuring 132 bighas 15 biswas in Khasra Nos. 90/2 to
90/5 in Cudah, Pargana Pachhad, Tehsil Theog, District Simla from private
owners for the purpose of planting an apple orchard during the year 1981-82.
The Government of Himachal -Pradesh owns about 35 bighas in Khasra No. 90/1.
The above area is surrounded by thick forests from all sides. In order to raise
an apple orchard felling of trees was required in the said area.
felling is regulated by the provisions of Himachal Pradesh Land Preservation
Act, 1978 (here_ inafter referred to as the Act). This Act provides for better
Preservation and protection of certain portions of territories. Under Section 7
of the Act Regulation have been made. That inter alia provides the trees for
sale shall be felled in accor- dance with 10 years felling programme. That programme,
in turn, required to be framed by the officials of the Forest Department which
is ultimately approved by the State Government. Rule 4(2)(e) of the Himachal
Pradesh Land Preservation Rules, 1983 (hereinafter referred to as the Rules)
provides that no clear felling of the trees shall be allowed even for the
purpose of raising orchards.
Some of the respondents made an application for demarcation of the land in
question for the purpose of marking and cutting of trees. The Assistant
Collector II Grade on 7th
December, 1987 carried
out the demarcation. On 8th
January, 1988 he
submitted the report with the noting that the verification of the report is
required to be done by Senior Land Revenue Officer. Without such a verification
no action will be proper. It was further stated that in view of the intricacies
in the demarcation and interest of the Government the land in question in which
thousands of trees of deodar, kali, tosh, broad leaved are standing and which
was fixed in dense forest and also for the purposes of exchange, private sale,
compensations of trees etc. and before giving order for counting of trees, for
any purpose, marking, cutting, the verification of this demarcation by Senior
Land Revenue Officer with the help of Sajra Musabi in the presence of the
Forest Department and also in the presence of Tehsildars who had earlier given
demarcation is in the interest of Government and absolutely necessary. In view
of the above observation of Assistant Collector and since no test of marking of
trees was done, the Forest Department for want of the above particulars could
not give the felling orders.
on 14th December,1989, the lands were demarcated. This
was duly informed to the respondents.
Since the appellants were not satisfied by the demarcation done by the
Additional Collector the land was again demarcated by the Assistant Settlement
Officer. He submitted a report in the first week of November, 1990. He was of
the view that the felling was permissible under 10 years programme during
1999-2000. The respondents were informed of the same and were directed to
approach the competent authority or to wait till the forest bid opens for the year
Under these circumstances, the respondents filed C.W.P. No. 206 of 1990 for a
direction to carry out and finalise the demarcation and a further direction to
issue necessary permission to cut and remove the trees. A further direction was
prayed for that in case it was not possible for the State Government to grant
permission it might be asked to take over the entire forest after paying the
market value thereof.
appellants took a stand that since the report of the Assistant Collector II
Grade contained so many infirmities the permission to fell the trees could not
be granted. Such a permission could be granted only during 1999-2000 under the
IO years programme.
the impugned judgment dated 30th September, 1992 the High Court allowed the writ petition holding that the report of
Assistant Collector II Grade was final. Eschewing the reports of the Assistant
Settlement Officer and the Additional Collector it directed the appellants to
accord sanction to the respondents for clear felling of trees within a period
of one month. Aggrieved by this judgment the appellants have come up in appeal.
Before us the following contentions are raised by learned counsel of the
report of the Assistant Collector cannot be treated as final since under
Section 17 of the Himachal Pradesh Land Revenue Act, 1973 (hereinafter referred
to as Revenue Act) the Financial Commissioner has got unlimited revisional pow-
ers. Where, therefore, at his direction there were further reports of the Assistant
Settlement. Officer and the Additional Collector, reliance cannot be placed on
the report of the Assistant Collector Grade II.
Besides, the report of the Assistant Collector contained so many infirmities.
any event, Rule 4(2)(c) prohibits felling even for the purposes of raising an
opposing this it is submitted that the Assistant Collector II Grade had the
necessary authority under Section 107 of the Revenue Act. That power is cxercisable
only by him and no one else. If that is the final report, the question of
Financial Commissioner exercising revisional powers under Section 17 of the
Revenue Act could not arise.
Besides, the permission to fell trees had been given in several other cases.
The bar of 10 years felling programme cannot be applied in this case. Right
from the date of purchase these respondents have been vigorously pursuing their
application for permission to fell trees. As was rightly pointed out by the
High Court, having failed to secure the necessary permission sought in their
application earlier, the same request was reiterated in the year 1989- 494
Merely because of the pendency of that application with the appellant the IO
years programme as in 1989-90 cannot be made applicable. Such a programme must
relate to 1982-83 during which year there was no bar.
a careful consideration of the above, we are not in a position to differ from
the High Court in relation to its finding that the report of the Assistant
Collector II Grade is final. The Assistant Collector Grade II is the competent
person to effect demarcation. His report is final. Section 107 of the Revenue
Act reads as under:- "107. Power of Revenue Officers to define boundaries.
- (1) A Revenue Officer may, for the purpose of framing any record or making
any assessment under this Act or on the application of any person interested,
define the limits of any estate, or of any holding, field or other portion of
an estate, and may, forthe purpose of indicating those limits,require survey
marks to be erected or repaired.
defining the limits of any land under sub-section (1), the Revenue Officer may,
cause survey-marks to be erected on any boundary already determined by, or by
order of any Court, Revenue Officer or Forest Settlement Officer, or restore
any survey- marks already set-up by, or by order of any Court or any such
is not denied before us that Assistant Collector II Grade is a Revenue Officer
as defined under Section 4(17) real with Section 7 (Classification of Revenue
such an Assistant Collector 11 Grade is the competent authority to exercise
statutory powers under the Act. The can define the limits of any estate or of
any holdings, fields or other portion of any estate.
The revisional powers of the Financial Commissioner could not be exercised
merely because the Assistant Collector II Grade has stated that the demarcation
could be got verified from the Senior Revenue Officer. The revisional powers of
the Financial Commissioner arc circumscribed by the statutory provision.
arc unable to accept the contention of the learned counsel for the appellants
that Rule 4(2)(c) of the Rules of 1983 will have any application to the facts
of the present case. These Rules have no application to the lands in Theog
Forest Division. 'Mat is why the respondents relied on the permission granted
by the appellants in Balson Range for marking and felling of trees to many persons from the
respective lands. Therefore Rule 4(2)(e) cannot be pressed into service. It is
also not correct to contend that the respondents will have to wait to fell the
trees in accor- dance with 10 years programme till 1999-2000. Merely because
the application of the respondent was pending with the appellant, the
respondents cannot be made to suffer.
we make it clear that the respondents will have to conform to the order passed
by the Secretary (Forests) to the Govt. of Himachal Pradesh in Order No. Fts(A)
3-1/81- Part 11, Shimla-2, dated the Sept., 1984. It inter alia states:
also that any person felling the trees either for domestic or agricultural use
or for sale shall be required to plant at least 3 trees for one tree felled. In
case, however, a fruit orchard is planted in such area, it shall be planted
according to the norms laid down by the State Horticulture Department for
complete stocking of the area".
is open to the appellant to prescribe such conditions as are permissible under
the above proviso and all other regulations/notifications governing the issue.
appeal is accordingly dismissed in the above terms.
there shall be no order as to costs.