Decided on January 24,2007



DHARAM VEER, J. - (1.)By means of this writ petition, the petitioner has prayed for writ of mandamus commanding the Respondent No. 3 to issue him transit pass (Ravanna) for transportation of wood logs from Suakot Pokhari to Haldwani Town.
(2.)Brief facts of the case as narrated by the petitioner are that petitioner is permanent resident of Village Suwakot Pokhari, Patti Padampur, Tehsil Dhari and Bhumidhar Tenure Holder of Khet Nos. 869, 871, 902, 903, 1000, 1001, 1002, 1003/2 and 30 situated in the revenue area of the said village and some trees of different varieties were also situated in the bhumidhari land of the petitioner. The petitioner moved an application before the District Magistrate, Nainital with a prayer to issue ownership certificate about the said trees. The District Magistrate, Nainital after making necessary enquiry issued ownership certificate of the trees in favour of the petitioner. Thereafter, the petitioner moved an application before respondent No. 3 to cut the trees which were dry and affected by the diseases. The respondent No. 3 thereafter called a report from the 'Van Kshetridhikari' 'Dana'. After receiving the said report of Van Kshetridhikari Danda, the respondent No. 3 granted permission to cut the eleven trees of 'Sal', two trees of 'Sain' and one tree of 'Tun'. The permission to mark the trees and cutting the trees was given vide letter dated 2-6-2000 by respondent No. 3 and period of completion of cutting the trees was up to 30-7-2000 and a copy of this permission letter was also forwarded to District Magistrate, S.S. P. Nainital and Incharge of Sharda Range. It has been stated in the writ petition that the petitioner cut the trees, permission of which was given by the Forest Officials and their logs were also collected in the presence of the Departmental Officers. The respondent No. 3 granted transit pass to transport the cutted logs to nearest town Haldwani and the transit permission was valid from 8-6-2001 to 13-6-2001. It has been alleged in the writ petition that the petitioner got some logs transported to Haldwani but some logs remained at the spot untransported due to starting of rainy season and transit pass was not extended and wood logs are still lying at the spot. Thereafter, on 12/5/2004 the petitioner moved an application with the prayer to issue transit pass before the respondent No. 3. The respondent No. 3 thereafter called a report from the subordinate forest officials about the matter. Thereafter, again on 5/1/2005, the petitioner again moved an application for issuance of transit pass for the transportation of logs. The respondent No. 3 again called a report from sub-Divisional Forest Officer, Haldwani vide letter dated 7-2-2005. In compliance of the report required by respondent No. 3, the Van Kshetradhikari gave his report about the position of the wood logs lying at the spot. On the basis of the above report given by Van Kshetradhikari, the petitioner has filed this writ petition with the prayer to command the respondent No. 3 to issue him transit pass Ravanna for transportation of wood logs from Suakot Pokhari to Haldwani town.
(3.)A counter-affidavit has been filed on behalf of respondent No. 3 by Sri Kapil Lal, D.F.O Haldwani, Nainital, in which it has been stated that the petitioner was granted permission for cutting eleven Sal Trees, two Sain Trees and one Tun tree from his own settled land on the recommendation and report of District Magistrate, Nainital and on the basis of spot inspection report of Dy. Divisional Forest Officer (Sharda) by Divisional Forest Officer, Haldwani vide sanction letter dated 2-6-2000. Thereafter, the transit permission was granted to the petitioner by Divisional Forest Officer, Haldwani vide his permission letter dated 7-6-2001 and according to the said letter, the petitioner was directed to transit the Timber Trees from 8-6-2001 to 13-8-2001 via Chaurgalia-Dani Bangar to Haldwani as prayed by the petitioner and for that purpose, eight transit passes were also issued to the petitioner. It has also been stated that like the petitioner several other villages/farmers of Village Suwakot also applied for cutting and transit of dried trees standing in their settled agricultural plots at the relevant time and permission was granted to them also. It was noticed in the relevant period that some of the villagers of the aforesaid village have made unauthorized and illegal felling of 28 Sal trees, 9 Pine trees and 1 Tun tree in the adjoining forest of Village Suwakot with a view to transit the aforesaid illegal felled trees/ Timber along with the Timber collected from the felling of the trees from their settled land for which they have obtained sanction. The Timber made from the aforesaid illegal cutting was collected at different places and road side of the adjoining reserve forest and report was also lodged against the aforesaid crime by the department and proceeding was started under the Indian Forest Act. Departmental proceedings were also initiated against the concerned officials of Forest Department who were prima facie found responsible for the aforesaid illegal felling.

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