Forest Range Officer & Ors Vs. P. Mohammed Ali & Ors  INSC
259 (4 May 1993)
K. Ramaswamy, K. Sahai, R.M. (J)
1994 AIR 120 1993 SCR (3) 497 1993 SCC Supl. (3) 627 JT 1993 (3) 222 1993 SCALE
% The Kerala Forest Act, 1961:
(f)--Forest Produce-Wood oil-Sandalwood oil-Held, is wood oil and a forest
offence-Accused-Manufacturing/found in possession of sandalwood oil-Trial-Held,
trial court has jurisdiction to proceed with trial.
of Purposive interpretation- Applied.
", "wood oil"-S. 2 (f) of Kerala forest Act- Interpretation of.
Forest Act, 1961 regulates preservation of forests and forest produce. Section
2(f) (i) defines forest produce which includes wood oil.
respondents in Crl. Appeals Nos. 420422 of 1993 were found manufacturing/in
possession of sandalwood oil.
under s. 52 (1) of the Act were initiated against them. They filed applications
under s. 482, Cr. P.C. before the High Court challenging the jurisdiction of
the trial court on the premise that sandalwood oil was not wood oil as defined
under s. 2(f) (i) of the Act The High Court allowed the case of the respondents
and quashed the complaint*. Subsequently in another case involving the same
controversy, a Division Bench of the High Court held that sandalwood oil was a
forest produce within the meaning of s. 2(f) (i) of the Act. **The State and
tile accused challenged the respective judgments in the appeals by special
contended on behalf of the accused that sandalwood oil is not a forest produce
inasmuch as there is a distinction between wood oil and sandalwood oil--wood
oil is a natural produce of forest directly derived as an exudation from living
trees in the forest whereas sandalwood oil is a bye product from sandalwood by
industrial process utilising the heart wood and 497 498 roots of sandalwood
trees removed from the forest as a raw material.
State contended that extraction of sandalwood oil even by mechanical process
would nonetheless be a wood oil; and that since the word 'timber' defined under
s. 2 (k) of the Act includes 'sandalwood' being a forest produce, the oil
extracted there from would also he within the meaning of the word 'wood oil'.
question: whether sandalwood oil is a forest produce within the meaning of s.
2(f) (i) of the Kerala Forest Act, 1961.
the appeals of the State and dismissing the other appeal, this Court,
1.1 Sandalwood oil is wood oil within the meaning of s.2(f) (i) of the Kerala
Forest Act, 1961. Therefore, it is a forest produce. (507-G) * Mohammed Ali v.
Forest Range Officer: (1992) 2 KLT 502, overruled **Khushboo Enterprises v.
Forest Range Officer. (1993) 1 KLT 91, approved. Kangundi Industrial Works. Kuppam
v. The Govt. of A.P. (1987) 2 A.P.L.J. 458, disapproved.
Sandalwood is forest produce. Even its roots are also included as forest
produce. They are also 'timber'within the meaning of s. 2(k) of the Act.
1.3 Forest produce as defined in s.2 (f) of
the Act, whether found in or brought from a forest or not is a forest produce
which include, that is to say, the enumerated items in clauses (1) and (ii).
"Wood oil" is one of the enumerated items as are roots of sandalwood
and rose wood.
The word "wood oil" used in the Act will require purposive
interpretation drawing the context in which the words are used and its meaning
will have to be discovered having regard to the intention and object which
legislature seeks to subserve. The purposive interpretation would aid
conservation of sandal wood, a valuable forest wealth, prevent illicit felling
and transportation of them and makes the manufacturers of sandalwood oil 499
accountable to the possession of sandalwood trees or chips or roots etc.
(506C-D) Municipal Corporation of Greater Bombay v. Indian Oil Corporation, AIR
1991 SC 686; State of Bombay & Ors. v. The Hospital Mazdoor Sabha &
Ors,  2 SCR 866 and State of Madhya Pradesh v. M. V Narasimhan, 1197512 SCC, relied on.
The Legislature does not intend to restrict the word 'wood oil' nor are there
any compelling circumstances in the Act to give restricted meaning that only
oil derived from Dipterocarpus trees would be wood oil.The literal
interpretation if given acceptance would lead to manifest frustration of the
purpose of the Act. (506-D) Aditya Mills v. Union
of India,  4SCC315, and Babu Manmohan Das
Shah & Ors. v. Bishun Das,  1 SCR 836, referred to.
Udyog and Ors v. State of U.P. & Ors, 2SCC 485, inapplicable.
on Statute law. Seventh Edition, referred to.
Medical Dictionan, (23rd Edition), Concise Chemical and Technical Dictionary
Treatises' (Vol. 6) by Ernest Guenther;
of India and of Eastern and Southern Asia' by Edward Balfour; 'Materia Medica
of India and their Therapeutics' by R.N. Khori, Pharma- cographia Indica by
William Dymock and 'Medical Plants of India and Pakistan' by J.F. Dastru, referred to.
The expert opinion is only an opinion evidence on either side and does not aid
in interpretation. (506-E)
3.1 Forest produce defined under s. 2(f) of
the Act is an inclusive definition. It is settled law that the word 'include'
is generally used as a word of extension. When used in an interpretation
clause, it seeks to enlarge the meaning of the words or phrases occurring in
the body of the statute. (504-D)
The word 'include' in the definition under s. 2(f) would show that it did not
intend to exclude what. was ordinarily and in common parlance to be spoken of
expression being technical and being part of an 500 inclusive definition has to
be construed in its technical sense but in an exhaustive manner, it cannot be
restricted in such a manner so as to defeat the principal object and purpose of
the Act (505-H, 506-A) Kishan Lal v. State of Rajasthan, AIR 1990 SC 2269 and
South Gujarat Roofing Tiles Manufacturers Assn. & Anr. v. State of Gujarat and Anr.,  1 SCR 878,
Gimba Vasava & Ors v. State of Gujarat & Ors., AIR 1987 Gujarat 9, distinguished.
process by which the oil is extracted is not decisive as oil may be extracted
by natural process of exudation or it may be extracted by subjecting to
chemical or mechanical process. The purpose for which the oil is used is also
not decisive. (506-B)
trial court has jurisdiction to proceed with the trial. It is for the trial
court to find whether the offence as amputed to the accused has been made out
at the trial. (507-G)
APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Criminal Appeal Nos. 420-22 of 1993.
the Judgment and Order dated 31.8.1992 of the Kerala High Court in Crl. R.P.
Nos. 665/91 and 666/91 and Crl. M.C. 832 of 1992. AND Criminal Appeal No. 423
the Judgment and Order dated 15.12.1992 of the Kerala High Court in Crl. M.C.
No. 1192 of 1992.
T.S. Krishna Murthy Iyer and M.T. George for the
Petitioner in C.A. Nos. 420-22/93 and for the
Respondents in C.A. No. 423/93.
John Joseph, P.S. Nayar, K.V. Sree Kumar, K. Raghunath and T.G.N. Nair for the
Appellant in C.A. No. 423/93 and for the Respondents
in C.A. Nos. 420-422/93. N.D. Garg for the
Respondents, 501 The Judgment of the Court was delivered by K. RAMASWAMY. J.:
Special Leave granted.
by questions of fact the learned Senior counsel on both sides neatly presented
question of law whether "sandlewood oil" is forest produce within the
meaning of Section 2 (f) (1) of the Kerala Forest Act, 1961 for short the Act'.
When proceedings were laid under section 51 (1) of the Act against the
respondents in Special Leave Petition (Crl.) Nos. 27-29 of 1992, they
questioned the jurisdiction of the court in C.C. Nos. 145 and 148 of 1988.
Eschewing delineation of intermediary proceedings went on from the start of
prosecution, the High Court in exercise of its power under section 482 of the
Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 for short 'the Code' by order dated August 31, 1992, reported in Mohammed Aliv. Forest
Range Officer, (1992) 2 KLT 502 quashed the complaint holding that Sandal Wood
Oil is not'wood oil' as defined in s.2 (f) (i) of the Act. So it is not a
forest produce. Thus these appeals by Special leave. When same question
subsequently arose, other learned Single Judge doubting the correctness of
aforesaid judgment referred the matter to the division bench which by order
dated December 15, 1992, reported in Khushboo Enterprises
Forest Range officer, (1993) 1 KLT 91 held that Sandalwool Oil is a
forest produce within the meaning of S.2 (f) (1) of the Act. Thus the appeal in
the other case.
Forest Conservation Act, 1980 aims to prevent depleting forests, conservation
thereof and protection of wild life in the country to maintain ecological
balance. The State, Acts regulate preservation of forest and forest produce to
supplement the Central Act. The Act prescribes procedure for preservation of
the forest and regulates possession of the forest produce, failing of trees in
the forest area and removal from the forest or reserved forest area by transit
permits etc. When Sandalwood Oil either was found in transit or in possession
of the manufacturers, it was seized in the respective cases and laid the
complaints under section 5 1 (1) (or contravention thereof. As said earlier the
jurisdictional question was raised on the premise that Sandal Wood Oil is not a
wood oil as defined under section 2(f) (1) of the Act.
question, therefore, emerges whether Sandalwood Oil is a wood oil. S.2(f)
defines forest produce thus:
2(f) 'forest produce' includes:- (i)the following whether found in or brought
from, a forest or not 502 that is, to say- timber, charcoal, wood-oil, gum,
resin, natural varnish, bark, lac, fibres and roots of sandalwood and rosewood;
and (ii)the following when found in or brought from aforest, that is to say-
a)trees and leaves, flowers and fruits and all other parts or produce not
here-in-before mentioned, of trees.
not being trees including grass, creapers, reeds and moss and all parts or
produce of such plants;
silk cocoons, honey and wax, and d) peat, surface soil, rock and minerals
(including lime- stone, laterite), mineral oils and all products of mines or
reading thereof do indicate that the forest produce whether found in or
,brought from a forest or not is a forest produce which include, that is to
say, the 'enumerated items in Clauses 1 and 11 "wood-oil" is one of
the enumerate items as well as roots of sandalwood and rosewood. The contention
of Sri G. Ramaswami, the learned Senior counsel for the accused is that
technical Dictiontries, Botanical Tax Books and expert opinion would bring out
a demonstrable distinction between wood oil and sandalwood oil. The wood oil is
a natural produce of the forest directly derived as an exudation from living
trees in the forest belonging to the family of the Dipterocarpucoae trees while
sandal wood oil is a bye product from sandalwood (Santalum Album) by industrial
process. Wood oil is produced by making a hole on the trunk of the living tree
commonly known as "oil trees" or "wood oil trees". This
family of trees are variously known in different parts of South India but they
relate to Dipterocarpucoae family.
oil is gathered by heating the hole in the trunk to induce exudation of the olec-resin
from the tree and commercially dealt with as wood oil which is a cheap
substance in the commercial world used solely for the purpose of painting
planks of wood or wooden vessels floating in the sea. The physio-chemical
properties of wood oil are distinct and different from other oil. Sandal wood
oil would be produced only at factory level and that too by mechanised process utilising
the heart wood and roots of sandal wood trees removed from the forest as a raw
wood oil is having very high commercial value and it is mainly used in
manufacturing perfumery and 503 cosmetic items of different types and grades.The
production of sandal wood oil is being carried out as industry, either by licence
by the individuals or the state government as its monopoly like Karnataka
State, in a larger scale or as a small scale business. It is further contended
that the meaning of the word "wood oil" defined in S. 2 (f) (1) must
receive its colour from its context and connotation. When the legislature used
the word 'that is to say 'the wood oil and other natural growth referred to in
the definition it would only mean natural bye-product directly drawn from the
trees. The Learned Single Judge had rightly construed the meaning of the word
'wood-oil' and held that sandal wood-oil being the bye-product derived
commercially manufacturing process is not wood oil. The division bench
committed manifest error in its construction of the word'wood-oil'to include
sandal wood oil. Sri Krishna Murthy Iyer, the learned Senior counsel for the
respondents on the other hand, refuted the contention arguing that inclusive
definition of forest produce must receive extended meaning.
must also be construed in the context in which it is used and the purpose the
Act seeks to serve and the family to which sandal wool oil belongs being an
essential oil would include wood oil. The expression wood-oil being a technical
and part of inclusive definition has to be construed in its technical sense and
in an exhaustive manner. It-cannot be restricted in a narrow circumference as
was done by the learned Single Judge so as to defeat the object and purpose of
the Act. Extraction of sandal wood oil even by mechanised process would
nonetheless be a wood oil. He laid emphasis on the word 'timber' defined in
section 2(k) which include 'Sandal wood', being a forest produce the oil
extracted therefrom would also be within the meaning of the word `wood-oil'.
The restricted meaning canvassed by the counsel would defeat the purpose of the
Act and the literal interpretation giving narrow meaning to the word wood-oil'
should be excluded.
the argument of Sri Ramaswami backed by material, though is alluring, deeper
probe denied its acceptance.
the Karnataka Forest Act, 1963 incorporated in its definition of forest produce
Sandalwood oil after the word "wood oil" and the legislature in
Andhra Pradesh and Tamilnadu, like the Act, do not specifically incorporate
Sandalwood oil in the definition of forest produce. From this could it be
concluded, if it be otherwise interpretable, that wood oil would not include
Sandalwood oil as well. Undoubtedly Stedman's Medical Dictionary (23rd Edition)
defined at page 1576, wood oil as gurjan balsam and gurjan balsam defined at p.
156 to mean wood oil-oleo-resin from Dipterocarpus alatus (family Dipterocarpuceae),
a tree of India and other regions of Southern Asia. Similar meaning was given
in Concise Chemical and Technical Dictionary edited by H. Bennett (Fourth
Edition) at page 1217; Scientific Treatises on the subject by Ernest Guenther
in volume 6; Edward Balfour in his 'Cryclopaedia of India' and of Eastern and
Southern Asia; R.N. Khori- in his 'Materia Medica of 504 India and their
Therapeutics' and' Pharmacographia Indica' by Willim Dymock defined wood oil in
the same strain.All these technical literatures were concerned in finding out physio-chemical
properties contained in wood oil and the source from which they are drawn for
use in industrial purposes. The literal interpretation given therein if given
acceptance would lead to manifest frustration of the purpose of the Act. In its
interpretation we have to keep at the back of our mind the purpose which the
Act and the Parent Act (Forest Conservation Act) seek to subserve. J.F. Dastru
equally in his 'Medical Plants of India and Pakistan'tread into the same path
and given construction to wood oil in the context of its exudation obtained
from the trunk of the trees belonging to the family of Dipterocarpaceae as an
oleoresin or gurjan balsam. There would be no quarrel on that behalf. It must
be noted in this context that there are several types of essential oils in
India, the important being Sandalwood oil, agar-wood oil, deodar oil and pine
oil, apart from oleo-resin and wood oil derived from exudation from living
trees in the forest area. These essential oils are obtained from any of forest
as observed by the High Court is forest produce.
its roots thereof are also included as forest produce. They are also timber
within the meaning of Section 2(k) of the Act. The purpose of the Act is to
conserve forest wealth which is very dear for preservation to maintain ecology.
Forest produce defined under section 2(f)
is an inclusive definition. It is settled law that the word 'include' is
generally used as a word of extension. When used in an interpretation clause,
it seeks to enlarge the meaning of the words or pharases occuring in the body
of the Statute. Craies on Statute Law, Seventh Edition at p. 64 stated the
construction to be adopted to the meanings of the words and pharases that
"The cardinal rule for the construction of Acts of Parliament is that they
should be construed according to the intention expressed in the Acts
themselves. If the words of the statute are themselves precise and unambiguous,
then no more can be necessary than to expound those words in their ordinary and
words themselves alone do in such a case best declare the intention of the law
giver",. At p. 214 it is stated that an interpretation clause which
extends the meaning of a word does not take away its ordinary meaning. An
interpretation clause of the inclusive definition is not meant to prevent the
word receiving its ordinary, popular and natural sense whenever that word that
would be properly applicable, but to enable the word as used in the Act, when
there is nothing in the context or the subject matter to the contrary, to be
applied to some things to which it would not ordinarily be applicable.........
An interpretation clause should be used for the purpose of interpreting word
which are ambiguous or equivocal, and not so as to disturb the meaning of such
as are plain. At p. 216 it is stated that another important rule with regard to
the effect of an interpretation clause is, that an interpretation clause is not
to be taken as substituting one set of words for another, or as strictly
defining what the meaning 505 of the term must be under all circumstances, but
rather as declaring what may be comprehended within the term where the
circumstances require that it should be so construed.
Court in Babu Manmohan Das Shah & Ors. v. Bishun Das [ 1967] 1 SCR 836
adopting the ordinary rule of construction stated that "the provisions of
a statute must be construed in accordance with the language used therein unless
there are compelling reasons such as where the literal construction would
reduce the Act to absurdity or prevent manifest legislative purpose from being
carried out". The question therein was the interpretation of the phrase
"materially altered the accommodation or is likely substantially to
diminish its value" in the construction to a shop. In that context this
court laid that cardinal principle of statutory construction referred to
hereinbefore would apply.
State of Madhya Pradesh v. M. V. Narasimhan,  2 SCC
377 the definition of 'public, servant' in S.21 I.P.C. was amended and clause
12 thereof was brought on statute. The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947
created its own provisions as specific offences of criminal misconduct which is
different from the offence of bribery defined in the-Indian Penal Code. When
similar definition was not given under the P.C. Act, 1947 the contention was
raised that the respondent cannot be prosecuted not being a public servant
under the P.C. Act.
court while holding that definition of public servant was incorporated in P.C.
Act by necessary implication of public servant defined in Cl. 12 of S.21 I.P.C.
and held that P.C. Act is supplemental to I.P.C. and that, therefore, both
would deal with the same offence. Accordingly, the respondent was held to be
public servant coming within the definition of P.C. Act. This court adopted the
doctrine of purposive interpretation to prevent corruption, a penal offence. In
Municipal Corporation of Greater Bombay v. Indian Oil Corporation, AIR 1991 SC
686 this Court adopted purposive construction in the definition of the word
'building' for the purpose of levy of property tax under the Bombay Municipal
Corporation Act to include oil storage- tanks to be "building" and
held that the language of a statutory provision is not static vehicle of ideas
and concepts and as ideas and concepts change, as they are bound to do in any
country like-ours with the establishment of a democratic structure based on agalitarian
values, the meaning and content of the statutory provision undergo a change.
The law does not operate in a vaccum. It cannot be interpreted without taking
into account the social, economic and political setting in which it is intended
Judge has to inject flesh and blood in the dry skeleton provided by the
legislature and invest it with a meaning which will harmonise the law with the
prevailing concepts and values and make it an effective instrument for
word include in the definition under section 2(f) would show that it did 506
not intened to exclude what was ordinarily and in common parlance be spoken of
wood oil. The expression being technical and being part of an inclusive
definition has to be construed in its technical sense but in an exhaustive
manner, it cannot be restricted in such a manner so as to defeat the principle
object and purpose of the Act. The process by which the oil is extracted is not
decisive as oil may be extracted by natural process of exudation or it may be
extracted by subjecting to chemical or mechanical process and Sandalwood (Santalum
Album) are cut into pieces. Its heart wood and roots of Sandalwood trees
removed from the forest are used as a raw material at a factory level that too
by mechanised process to extract sandalwood oil. The purpose for which the oil
is used is not decisive.
the word wood oil used in the Act will require purposive interpretation drawing
the context in which the words are used and its meaning will have to be
discovered having regard to the intention and object which legislature seeks to
subserve. The restricted meaning sought to put up by the accused would
frustrate the object and the literal interpretation would defeat the meaning.
The Legislature does not intend to restrict the word wood oil nor we find any
compelling circumstances in the Act to olive restricted meaning that only oil
derived from Dipterocarpus trees to be wood oil as contended for the accused and
found acceptance to the learned single Judge. The purposive interpretation
would aid conservation of sandle wood, a valuable forest wealth, prevent
illicit failing and transportation of them and makes the manufacturers of sandlewood
oil accountable to the possession of sandlewood trees or chips or roots etc.
of sandlewood oil abundentecatela in Karnataka Act and absence thereof in
sister Acts operating in South India does not detract from giving its due
meaning. The expert opinion is only an opinion evidence on either side and does
not aid us in interpretation. This court in Adity Mills v. Union of India,
 4 SCC 315 did not adopt the dictionary meaning as it may be to some
extent delussive guide to interpret entries in Central Excise and Salt Act.
Lal v. State of Rajasthan, AIR 1990 SC 2269 to which one of us, Sahai, J, was
member, this court was to consider the word 'Sugar' whether under Rajasthan Agricultrual
Produce Marketing Act, 1961 an agricultural produce. It was contended that the Khandsari
Sugar was not an agricultural produce. Repelling that contention, this Court
held that the word agricultural produce include all produce whether
agricultural, horticultural, animal husbandary or otherwise as specified in the
schedule. The legislative power to add or include and define a word even
artificially, apart, the definition which is not exhaustive but inclusive
neither exclude any item produced in mills or factories nor it confines its
width to produce from soil.
that be the construction then all items of animal husbandry shall stand
excluded. It further overlooks the expression "or otherwise as specified
in the Schedule".
it was held that Khandsari Sugar is an agricultural produce under that Act. In
State of Bombay & Ors. v. The Hospital Mazdoor Sabha & Ors.  2
SCR 866 this court adopted purposive approach 507 in interpreting the word
'industry' in s. 2(j) of the Industrial Disputes Act, and held that the
Legislature in defining the word 'industry' in s.2 (j) of the Act deliberately
used term of wide import in its first clause and referring to several other
industries in the second in an inclusive way obviously denoting extention. The
conventional meaning attributed to trade or business was eschewed even in the
absence of profit motive. It was held that hospital was an industry. Therefore,
the ratio, far from helping the accused, is consistent with the view we have
In South Gujarat Roofing Tiles Manufacturers
Association and Anr. v. State of Gujarat and Anr.,  1 SCR 878 the inclusive definition was construed in
the context of the explanation given to Entry
was held, therefore, that the word 'pottery' does not include tiles industry
for the purpose of Minimum Wages Act. The ratio therein renders little
assistance to the accused. In Rathi Khandsari Udyog and Ors. v. State of U.P. and Ors.,  2 SCC 485, this court held that the
words not defined may be construed in the popular sense in which it is being
commonly used in commercial parlance. The ratio is not apposite to the fact
situation. Similarly the construction placing reliance on the passage at p. 164
of Craies on Statute Law that the word is to be construed in the sense in which
it is being understood in trade, business or transaction known to the trade is
also inapplicable to the factual context.
Gimba Vasava and Ors. v. State of Gujarat and ors., AIR 1987 Gujarat 9 the
division bench construed whether bamboo would include in its ambit cut pieces
in the context and the purpose the Act sought to serve the tribals in the
forest area. Privilege was granted to the tribals to remove certain forest
produce from forest area for sale to supplement their livelihood. When toplas, supdas
and palas made out of bamboo chips were being taken out for sale, they were
sought to be prosecuted. It was challenged by the tribals. In that context the
division bench held that though bamboo is a forest produce, the Bamboo chips of
the specified description do not fall within the definition of forest produce.
Accordingly it was interpreted, from the context and purposive approach of the
word 'forest produce'. Accordingly the ratio therein does not assist the
Andhra Pradesh High Court, relied for the accused, had not correctly laid the
law in Kangundi Industrial works, Kuppam v. The Govt. of A.P. (1987) 2 A.P.L.J.
458 Accordingly we hold that Sandalwood oil is wood oil within the meaning of
s. 2 (f) (i) of the Act. Therefore, it is a forest produce. Necessary
conclusion is that the Trial Court has jurisdiction to proceed with the trial.
It is for the Trial Court to find whether the offence as imputed to the accused
has been made out the trial. We need express no opinion at this stage. The
appeals of the State are allowed and the appeal of the accused is dismissed.