& Anr Vs. State of Kerala & Anr  INSC 177 (25 March 1998)
Ray, G.B. Pattanaik
O R D
appeal arises out of the leave granted by the Kerala High Court by order dated January 12, 1984 in M.F.A.No.338/1978. The short
question that arises for decision of this Court is whether the land where
systematic teak plantation is not natural one, will be exempted from the
purview of private forests under the Kerala Private Forests (Vesting and
Assignment) Act, 1971. It appears that under Section 2 of the said Act, unless
the context otherwise requires, the private forest means in relation to Malabar
District referred to in sub-section (2) of Section 5 of the States Reorganisation
Act, 1956, any land to which the Madras Preservation of Private Forests Act,
1949 applied to the lands in question immediately before the appointed day. But
certain lands have been excluded from the definition of Private Forests under
the Kerala Act and Clause (C) of sub-section (2) (1) (F) is relevant for our
consideration. Clause (C) contains that when lands are principally cultivated
with cashew or other fruit-bearing trees or are principally cultivated with any
other agricultural crop will be exempted from the purview of private forests
under the Kerala act.
the learned senior counsel appearing for the appellants contended that Clause
(C) exempts not only cashew or other fruit bearing trees but also any other
land which are principally used for cultivation of agricultural crop.
instant case, the teak has been grown by systematic human efforts and it is not
a case of natural growth of the forest. Hence, such land must be held to be the
land principally cultivated with agricultural crop. Therefore, such land will
be exempted from the purview of private forests within the meaning of said Kerala
are, however, unable to accept such submission of the learned counsel. Every
agricultural activity has not been exempted under the said Kerala Act and
Clause (C) only protects lands which are principally cultivated with cashew or
fruit bearing trees and principally cultivated with 'agricultural crop'.
Agricultural crop as commonly understood does not convey the agricultural
activity in teak plantation. Therefore, such activity cannot be brought within
the purview of the said Clause (C).
learned counsel for the respondents has drawn our attention to a decision of
this Court in Gwalior Rayons Silk Palghat and another (1990 (Suppl.) SCC 785).
In the said case, the question of vesting as forest lands in Malabar District
which was initially governed by the Madras Preservation of Private Forests act,
1949 prior to the Reorganisation of States was taken into consideration in the
context of applicability of Kerala Forest Act. In the said cases, agricultural
activity in growing Eucaliptus trees was considered. It has been held that the
land where such agricultural activity was held will not be exempted from the
purview of the said Forest Act in Kerala under Clause (C).
ratio of the said decision of this Court applies in the facts of this case.
Therefore, we do not find any reason to interfere with the impugned decision of
the High Court. The appeal , therefore, fails and is dismissed but there will
be no order as to costs.