Kerala & Ors. Vs. Managing Trustee Arya Vaidyasala  INSC 1203 (13
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CIVIL APPEAL NO.4304 OF
2009 (@SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CIVIL)NO.250 OF 2007) STATE OF KERALA & ORS.
Appellant(s) VERSUS MANAGING TRUSTEE, ARYA VAIDYASALA Respondent(s)
O R D E R
State of Kerala has challenged the order passed by the Division Bench of the
Kerala High Court in this appeal. The first respondent owned about 130 acres of
land, which originally formed part of Anakkaranam Malavaram to which the Madras
Preservation of Private Forests Act(for short the 'M.P.P.F.Act) was applicable.
In the year 1960, the first respondent got permission to fell the trees and use
this land for cultivating medicinal plants and herbs.
the land was also used for cultivating a particular variety of paddy mainly to
be used for medicinal purposes.
Private Forests (Vesting and Assignment) Act, 1971 (for short 'the 1971 Act'),
which came into force in 1971, provides that all private forests are vested
with the State Government. The respondent, filed an application before the
Forest Tribunal contending that the land owned by the respondent is not covered
by the 1971 Act. The Tribunal held that it was not a 'private forest' as the
land was used for 2 purpose of cultivation of medicinal plants and herbs. The
order passed by the Forest Tribunal was challenged before the High Court and
the High Court has also held that the land owned by the respondent was not
finding has become final.
3. In the
meanwhile, the Kerala State Legislature has passed the Kerala Preservation of
Trees Act, 1986 (for short 'the 1986 Act'). Section 5 of the 1986 Act
prohibited the cutting of trees from forest areas. The first respondent filed a
Writ Petition when the appellant State authorities raised objection to the
cutting of trees from this land.
the High Court the first respondent urged that this was not a 'private forest',
hence the 1986 Act has no application. The appellant State contended that this
was an area where the M.P.P.F.Act was applicable and going by the definition
given in the 1986 Act, the respondent is not entitled to cut trees without the
permission of the State authorities. The plea raised by the State Government
was rejected by the High Court and the Writ Petition was allowed by holding
that the sub-section (1) of Section 5 of 1986 Act would not apply to the land
owned by the respondent herein.
challenged before this Court.
learned senior counsel for the State of Kerala as well as learned senior
counsel for the respondent.
attention was drawn to the definition of 'private forest' as given in the
Explanation II to Section 5 of the 3 1986 Act. In the Explanation it is stated
that "For the purpose of sub-section (1) the expression "private
land which immediately before the 10th day of May, 1971 was a private forest as
defined in Kerala Private Forest (Vesting and Assignment) Act, 1971."
Learned counsel appearing for the State contended that this is an area to which
the M.P.P.F.Act was applicable and even though the permission was granted to
fell the trees in 1960, the Act continue to apply to this property and therefore,
it form part of the "private forest" as defined under the 1971 Act.
6. We are
not inclined to accept this contention for the reason that when it was declared
by the Forest Tribunal as well as by the High Court that it is not a
and it is
difficult to hold that it continued to be a "private forest" as it
was allegedly covered by M.P.P.F.Act. If it continued to be a "private
forest" it should have been vested with the Government as per the
provisions of the 1971 Act. Moreover, the "private forest"
defined in Section 2(f) of the 1971 Act which provides that ""Private
Forest" means (1) in relation to Malabar District referred to in
sub-section (2) of Section 5 of the State Re-organisation Act, 1956 : (i) any
land to which the Madras Preservation of Forests Act, 1949 (Madras Act XXVII of
1949) applied immediately before the appointed day excluding ...
Lands which are principally cultivated with cashew or other fruit bearing trees
or are principally cultivated with any other agricultural crop."
it is not correct to contend that going by the definition as given in the 1971
Act this is a "private forest". As the Tribunal's order has become
final, it is not possible for us to hold that it is a "private
forest" to which the 1986 Act applied. We find no error in the impugned
judgment of the High Court. Therefore, the appeal is dismissed. No costs.
...............CJI. (K.G. BALAKRISHNAN)
.................J. (P. SATHASIVAM)
.................J. (J.M. PANCHAL)
13TH JULY, 2009.