(1.) The Petitioners, Vijyanand Singh and Kanhaiya Singh, have prayed for the issue of a writ of mandamus under Article 226 of the Constitution, prohibiting the opposite-parties, the State of Uttar Pradesh, the Collector of Mirzapur and the Divisional Forest Officer, Sone Division, Mirzapur, from interfering, in any manner, with the enjoyment of the rights by the Petitioners arising out of the registered agreement dated 14th July, 1947. The Petitioners alleged that one Raja Beni Madho Prasad Singh, the erst-while sole proprietor of the Kantit Estate in the district of Mirzapur entered into a registered agreement with Petitioner No. 2, Kanhaiya Singh, on the 14th of July, 1947, under which he gave contract of the jungle of Kusiyara, Tappa Upraut, Pargana Kantit, District Mirzapur, to Petitioner No. 2 for a period of 10 years ending in July, 1957, for a sum of Rs. 40,000. The contract, amongst other rights, conferred on Petitioner No. 2 the right of cutting jungle trees, manufacturing charcoal out of the timber, collecting fuel and preparing timber. In pursuance of this contract, Petitioner No 2 started working in the jungle without any let or hindrance from any one since the beginning of the contract. He deposited a sum of about Rs. 27,000 out of the total sum of Rs. 40,000 payable in instalments according to the terms of the contract. On 11th July, 1951, Kanhaiya Singh, Petitioner No. 2, entered into a registered partnership with Vijyanand Singh Petitioner No. 1, so that thereafter both the Petitioners jointly worked the contract as partners of the firm. After the vesting of the estate in the State of Uttar Pradesh on 1st July, 1952, the opposite-parties started interfering with the working of the forest contract by the Petitioners' and claimed that the rights of the Petitioners had come to an end, so that they were not entitled to work the contract or to take away the forest produce thereafter. In view of the orders passed by the opposite-parties in this behalf, this petition was filed by the Petitioners with the prayer mentioned above.
(2.) The only question, that arises in this case, is whether, after the vesting order under the U.P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act, the rights, which were granted to Petitioner No. 2 by Raja Beni Madho Prasad Singh, still continued to vest in him or in the partnership consisting of the two Petitioners. The contract was entered into between Raja Beni Madho Prasad Singh (who clearly comes within the definition of an intermediary under the U.P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act) and Petitioner No. 2 on 14th July, 1947, i.e., subsequent to the eighth day of August, 1946. The contract relates to the gathering and collection of forest produce. It is contended by the opposite parties that in these circumstances, the contract has become void under Section 8 of the U.P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act. Learned Counsel for the Petitioners has urged that Section 8 of the Act is not applicable because the contract was not in respect of any private forest notified as such under the U.P. Private Forests Act, 1948 (U.P. Act No. VI of 1949). It appears to me that the words 'private forest' used in Section 8 of the U.P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act cannot be interpreted by referring to the definition of 'forest' as given in the U.P. Private Forests Act, 1948. In that Act, 'forest' has been given a special meaning. The definition is as follows:
'Forest' means any land which the State Government may, by notification, declare to be a forest for the purposes of this Act.
(3.) This definition itself makes it clear that, for purposes of that Act, the word 'forest' is not to carry its ordinary meaning but is to have a special meaning dependent on a notification being issued by the State Government. Obviously, the words 'private forest' used in Section 8 of the U.P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act cannot be given the same restricted meaning. In the U.P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act, the word 'forest' must be given its ordinary meaning and not the special meaning given to that word in the U.P. Private Forests Act, 1948. The Petitioners themselves admit that the contract is in respect of a forest. Obviously, in Section 8 of the U.P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act, the words 'private forest' have been used so as to contrast them with the words 'public forest' or 'Government forest.' The forest, which is the subject-matter of the agreement in question was a private forest belonging to Raja Beni Madho Prasad Singh and the Petitioners obtained their rights through a contract between him and Petitioner No. 2. That contract, under Section 8 of the U.P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act, became void with effect from the date of vesting of the estate in the State of Uttar Pradesh, i.e., 1st July, 1952. Thereafter the private forests vested in the State of Uttar Pradesh and, consequently, the opposite parties were fully within their rights in taking action to see that the Petitioners no longer work in the forest under the contract and do not exercise their rights under the agreement.;