State Of Karnataka & ANR Vs.
Elizabeth Mayne & ANR  INSC 109 (8 April 1976)
RAY, A.N. (CJ) RAY, A.N. (CJ) BEG, M.
HAMEEDULLAH SINGH, JASWANT
CITATION: 1976 AIR 1651 1976 SCR (3)1088 1976
SCC (3) 418
Redemption of the tree growth on
"Bane" lands by "Wargadars" or their transferees/successors
in possession- Right of redemption-The Coorg Land and Revenue Regulations 1899,
Section 97 and the Karnataka Forest Rules 1969 Rule 137 Karnataka Land Revenue
Act 1967, s. 75-Scope of.
"Bane lands" are forest lands
granted for the service of the "Warg", holding rice fields to which
they are allotted to be held, free of revenue, for grazing, leaf
manure/firewood and for timber required in the Warg, capable of being alienated
only along with the Warg lands u/s 97 of the Coorg Land and Revenue Regulation
1899, which is in pari materia with Rule 151 A and B made under the Indian
Forest Rules 1954. The holders of the Bane Land had the right to redeem the
trees standing on such Bane lands subject to the payment of seignorage etc.
Under Rule 137 of the Karnataka Forest Rules 1969, effective from 1st March
1969, redemption of the growth on "Bane lands" was allowed on payment
of 50% of the value of the timber. Rule 137 was however deleted w.e.f. 15th
The various appellants who were holders of
"Bane Lands" challenged, under Art. 226. the orders of the Forest
authorities demanding full value of the timber sought to be
"redeemed" by them contending that (i) they had vested right to redeem
the trees on Bane lands on payment of 50% of the value of timber under the
Coorg Land and Revenue Regulations of 1899 and (ii) Section 75 of the Karnataka
Land Revenue Act, 1964 vested in them an absolute right in respect of the trees
on Bane lands and the Government therefore had no right even to demand 50% of
the value. All the writs were accepted by the Mysore High Court following its
earlier decision in I.L.R. (Karnataka) 1975 Vol. 25, p. 443 (Ramaraju Naidu v.
Divl. Forest officer) holding that the Rules conferred a right on the holders
of Bane lands to redeem the trees standing on such lands on payment of 50% of
the value of the timber to the State along with other incidental charges. The
court did not express any opinion whether the State had no right to demand 50%
of the value under the Karnataka and Revenue Act of 1964. Allowing the State
appeal against I.L.R. (Karnataka) 1975 Vol. 25 page 443 the Division Bench held
[in State of Karnataka v.
Ramaraju Naidu I.L.R. (Karnataka) 1975 Vol.
25 p. 1361] that (i) the Bane holders had no propriety right to the soil of
Bane Land and to the trees standing thereon but only limited privilege to
collect grass leaves timber etc. for domestic purposes (ii) Even after s. 75(1)
of the Karnataka Land Revenue Act was enacted the Bane holders did not become
holders or occupants as defined in the Act and ownership of trees did not
accrue to them and (iii) Section 79 of the Karnataka Land Revenue Act which
preserved the preexisting privileges of Bane holders has no application to Bane
Keeping 15-1-74, the date of deletion of Rule
137 of the Karnataka Forest Rules 1969, the Division Bench, however directed
that (1) the respondents who deposited before 15th January 1974, 50% of the
value of timber as determined by the Forest officer could be granted permits to
cut and remove timber, with liberty to the Forest officer to recover and any
differential amount between the 50% of the actual value of timber and amount
paid on the basis of prior determination and (ii) those respondents who have
made applications under rule 137 before 15th January 1974, but not deposited
the amount could also be granted permits on deposit of 50% of the value of
Dismissing the State appeals, by certificate,
HELD: (1) The learned single judge in ILR
(Karnataka) 1975 Vol. 25 p. 443 rightly did not express any view on the second
question as to whether 1089 the Bane Land holders could ask for removal of
trees without payment full of value u/s 75 of the Karnataka Land Revenue Act,
1964. [1091A] Ramaraju Naidu v. Divl. Forest Officer I.L.R.
(Karnataka) 1975, Vol. 25 p. 443 (partly
(ii) The directions given by the Division
Bench are explicable because of 15th January 1974 being taken as the dividing
line with regard to persons who made payments and persons who did not make
payment consequent upon the repeal of Rule 137 of the Karnataka Forest Rules,
1969. [109lF] [Their Lordships left open to the parties to urge their rival
contentions on the questions of the nature and terms of Bane lands and right,
if in future, there will be any dispute between them, in view of their making
clear that the observations and opinions of the High Court Division Bench
should not operate as res judicata]
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeals Nos.
1867- 1924, 1952 of 1975 and 9 to 66 of 1976.
From the Judgments and orders dated the
18-4-75, 28-4- 75 and 27-5-75 of the Mysore (Karnataka) High Court in Writ
Appeal Nos. 1034-1039/74 and 116 to 143/75, 951-74, 922- 923/74, 32/75, 1035 of
1974 and 976 to 1033/74 respectively.
L. N. Sinha, Sol. General in C.A. No. 1891
and 1952 for the appellants in C.As. 1867-1924 and Respondent in CA 1952/75 and
K.S. Puttaswamy, 1st Addl. Government Advocate (In Cas. 1867-1924 and 1952/75)
B. R. G. K. Achar.
S. G. Sundaraswamy, K. S. Gourishanker and K.
N. Bhatt for the Appellants in C.As. 1952/75 and Respondents in C.A. 1891/75.
L. N. Sinha, Sol. General in (CA 9) K. S.
Puttaswamy, Asstt. Addl. Government Advocate, Narayan Netter and B. R.
G. K. Achar for the Appellants in C.As. 9 to
66 of 1976.
S. V. Gupta (In CA 1890/75), S. S. Javali and
Singh for Respondents in CAs. 1875 to 79,
1882-83 1885, 1887-90, 1893, 1895, 1897, 1902-08, 1909, 1910, 1912, 1914, 1917,
1920, 1923-24/75 and for R. 2 in C.As. 1867, 1874, 1880-81, 1884, 1889-1901,
1903 1906-07 and 1921/75 and for Respondent in Appeals Nos. 9, 13-18, 20, 21,
39-44, 54, 56, 58, 60-63 and for Respondent No. 1 in Cas 19, 22-23, 37, 43, 46,
51, 55, 59, 65 and Respondent No. 2 in C.As 38 of 1975.
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
RAY, C.J. These appeals are by certificate from the judgment dated 18 April,
1975 of the High Court of Karnataka.
The respondents were the petitioners in the
The respondents are either holders of Bane
lands in the District of Coorg or holders of such lands who purchased timber
standing on them from such holders.
The respondents in the High Court asked for
writ directing the Divisional Forest officer of the State to issue permits to
the respondents to remove trees standing on Bane lands as particularised in the
1090 The Divisional Forest Officer refused
permits to the respondents to cut trees and remove timber. The two grounds on
which the respondents challenged the order of refusal are these. First, the
respondents claimed a vested right to redeem the trees on Bane lands on payment
of 50 per cent of the value of timber under Coorg Land and Revenue Regulation
of 1899 and the rules framed thereunder. Second the respondents claimed that,
by section 75 of the Karnataka Land Revenue Act, 1964, an absolute right was
conferred on them in respect of trees on Bane lands and the Government have no
right even to demand 50 per cent of the value.
The learned Single Judge referred to the
provisions of Coorg Land and Revenue Regulation of 1899 and in particular rule
97 thereof. The learned Single Judge came to the conclusion that rules
conferred a right on the holders of Bane land to redeem the trees standing on
such Bane lands.
He also held that under the rules, the
respondents were required to pay 50 per cent of the value of the timber to the
State along with other incidental charges.
The contention of the State that the Coorg
Land and Revenue Regulation, 1899 was repealed and, therefore, the respondents
had no right under those Regulations to remove timber was repelled by the
learned Single Judge. The learned Judge held that section 202 of the Karnataka
Land Revenue Act of 1964 did not affect the right acquired by the holders of
Bane lands in spite of repeal of the Coorg Land and Revenue Regulation of 1899.
In this view of the matter, the learned Single Judge did not consider it
necessary to express any opinion on the second contention of the respondents
whether under section 75 of the Karnataka Land Revenue Act of 1964, the State
had no right to demand 50 per cent of the value.
The Division Bench on appeal held that the
respondents could be divided into two categories. As to the first category, the
Division Bench in sub-paragraph (1) of paragraph 59 of the judgment said that
those who deposited before 15 January, 1974, 50 per cent of the value of timber
as determined by the Divisional Forest officer, could be granted permits to cut
and remove timber. If there was any difference between the 50 per cent of the actual
value of timber and the amount paid on the basis of determination by the
Divisional Forest officer, the Divisional Forest officer would recover the
difference as mentioned in the said paragraph 59(1).
In sub-paragraph (2) of paragraph 59, the
Division Bench dealt with respondents who did not fall within category 1, but
made applications before 15 January, 1974.
The Solicitor General appearing for the State
with his usual fairness said that he did not want to take up time of the Court
in going into the merits of the appeals. He accepted the conclusions of the
High Court in paragraph 59 of the judgment. The result is that the conclusions
of the High Court in paragraph 59 are affirmed.
The matter, however, does not end there
because counsel for the respondents submitted that the Division Bench went into
the nature and tenure of Bane lands and expressed views which are not correct
1091 and which in any event were not necessary for the purpose of the present
The learned Single Judge rightly did not express
any view on the second question as to whether the Bane land holders could ask
for removal of trees without payment of full value. The Division Bench,
however, in paragraphs 16 and 20 dealt with the legal position of Bane lands
prior to 1 November, 1899, in paragraph 30 on the legal position between 1
November 1899 and 1 April 1964 and in paragraphs 36 and 43 on the legal
position after 1 April 1964. The Division Bench of the High Court in paragraphs
17 and 19 of the judgment dealt with Bane and Kumki lands and equated the same.
It may be stated here that one of the
respondents- Consolidated Coffee Ltd., also filed an appeal from the judgment
of the High Court. The Solicitor General contended that the Consolidated Coffee
Ltd. was not competent to file an appeal because the company had obtained
relief and could not, therefore, attack the judgment.
Having heard the Solicitor. General and
counsel for the respondents, we are of opinion that the course adopted by the
learned Single Judge was correct. The Division Bench of the High Court need not
have gone into the question on the nature and tenure of Bane lands and
expressed opinion on rights of the parties. These observations were not
We, therefore, hold that we affirm the
conclusions of the Division Bench of High Court as stated in paragraph 59 of
the judgment and make it clear that the observations and opinions expressed by
the Division Bench on the nature and tenure of Bane lands and rights of the
parties will not bind the parties on these questions in future. It will be open
to both parties, namely, the appellants and respondents to urge their rival
contentions on these questions if in future there will be any dispute between
The directions given by the Division Bench in
paragraph 59 of the judgment will be followed by the parties. The directions
are explicable because of 15 January 1974 being taken as the dividing line with
regard to persons who made payment and persons who did not make payment
consequent upon the repeal of Rule 137 of the Karnataka Forest Rule, 1969.
The appeals are dismissed. Parties will pay
and bear their own costs.
S.R. Appeals dismissed.