SATYA PRAKASH AND OTHERS Vs. COMMISSIONER, LAND REFORMS AND JAGIRS, M.B. AND ANOTHER
HIGH COURT OF MADHYA PRADESH
Satya Prakash And Others
Commissioner, Land Reforms And Jagirs, M.B. And Another
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Dixit, J. -
(1.) THESE are four applications under Art. 226 of the Constitution of India by persons who until recently were engaged in working certain forest areas of the former Jagir of Palpur, for the manufacture of charcoal and kattha. The petitioners pray for the issue of an appropriate direction to restrain the State of Madhya Bharat from interfering in anyway with the petitioners' rights to work the forest areas and to deal with the manufactured charcoal and Kattha, which the petitioners claim to be their property.
(2.) THE undisputed facts are that on 15 -11 -1952 Jagirdar of Palpur entered into an agreement with the petitioner Satya Prakash permitting him to manufacture charcoal by felling trees in certain 900 acres of forest land in his Jagir during the period from 15 -11 -1952 to 30 -6 -1955. Satya Prakash paid a premium of Rs. 5400 to the Jagirdar for the contract. On the same date the Jagirdar entered into a separate agreement with the applicant Akbarali for the manufacture of 300 'handies' of Kattha from other forest land in his Jagir, for a consideration of Rs. 6000.
He also granted leases of still other forest areas for the manufacture of charcoal and Kattha during the period from 15 -11 -1952 to 30 -6 -1955 to Fate Singh and Satendra Prakash, who transferred their rights in a part of the area leased out to them to the petitioner Surendra Nath Chaddha. The Jagirdar yet entered into an another agreement on the same date with the applicant Ambrikrai for the manufacture of 150 Handies of Kattha in still other "forest area" in his Jagir during the period from 15 -11 -1952 to 30 -6 -1955.
A few days after the leases had been granted the Palpur Jagir was resumed under the Madhya Bharat Abolition of Jagirs Act, 1951 which came into force on 4 -12 -1952. But even before the resumption of Jagir and at the time when the Jagirdar of Palpur entered into various agreements with the petitioners, the Jagirdar's power with regard to the cutting of trees in the Jagir forest area was not unrestricted. Section 3, Madhya Bharat Jagir Forest (Prevention of Indiscriminate Cutting) Act, 1950 (Act No. 55 of 1950) provided that
except for his own bona fide (sic) purposes or those of the villagers residing in the Jagir Area concerned, no Jagirdar shall cut, or cause to be cut or authorise any person to cut or cause to be cut any tree in the forest area of his Jagir without the previous sanction obtained in writing of the Commissioner for Jagirs.
Section 4 of the Act prescribed the maximum area for which the Commissioner for Jagir could give sanction to any Jagirdar in any one year.
It appears that the Jagirdar of Palpur was granted permission under S. 3 of Act No. 55 of 1950 in respect of 5000 Bighas in Samvat 2007, 5000 Bighas in Samvat 2008 and 5698 Bighas in Samvat 2009. The Jagirdar did not utilize the sanction granted to him for the years Samvat 2007 and 2008. In Samvat 2009 he granted leases to the petitioners and other persons for the working of forest areas in his Jagir in excess of the area for which he had obtained sanction for the year Samvat 2009 and far beyond the period for which the sanction had been granted.
On 25 -2 -1955 the Conservator of Forests, Southern Division reported to the Jagir Commissioner that the Jagirdar of Palpur had leased out forest area in his Jagir in contravention of the provisions of S. 3, Madhya Bharat Jagir Forest (Prevention of Indiscriminate Cutting) Act and praying that action under S. 6 of the Act be taken by the Jagir Commissioner, This section authorises the Jagir Commissioner to stop the cutting of any tree or trees in the forest area of any Jagir on receiving information of the non -compliance or breach in the forest area of any Jagir of any of the provisions of the Act or orders issued under it.
On 28 -2 -1955 the Jagir Commissioner made an interim order directing the stoppage of the working of the forest areas by the Jagirdar and the persons working under contracts given by the Jagirdar, Subsequently after hearing the contractors concerned, on 24 -3 -1955 the Jagir Commissioner modified his order dated 28 -2 -155 by making the following directions :
(i) There will be no further cutting of any tree standing within the coupes;
(ii) the felled material is allowed to be collected, stacked and stored by the contractors concerned with due regard to safety from pilfering and fire etc;
(iii) the Bhatties in operation (already burning) are allowed to continue so that the operation is completed;
(iv) the felled wood may be burnt into charcoal by the D.F.O. or he may, within his discretion, allow the contractors to burn the wood for preparation of charcoal;
(v) no extraction of either timber, wood, charcoal or any other material from these coupes is permitted except under the written sanction of the D.F.O. and on payment of the value of the material determined by the D.F.O.; and
(vi) the operation of Katha Handies in progress may be completed by the D.F.O. either through his own agency or the agency of the contractors whichever is found convenient by him. The produce of the Katha Ilandies will remain at the disposal of "the D.F.O."
The order dated 24 -3 -1955 was again modified by the Jagir Commissioner on 12 -4 -1955. The Jagir Commissioner classified the persons who held contracts from the Jagirdar for the working of various forest areas into two groups, namely, (i) those who held contracts for the working of the forest area for which the Jagirdar had obtained sanction in Samvat 2009; (2) and those who had been working in the various areas not covered by the sanction. In regard to former group of contractors; the Jagir Commissioner directed :
1. There will be no further cutting of trees still standing in the coupes.
2. The felled material is permitted to be collected, stacked and stored within the coupe areas according to the convenience of the contractors concerned with due regard to safety from pilfering and fire etc.
The contractors are permitted to burn wood already felled into charcoal within their coupe areas and the burning already commenced is allowed to be completed; and
(3.) TIMBER and fuel wood already cut and charcoal prepared is allowed to be extracted and taken out of the coupe area after furnishing security considered sufficient by the D.F.O.;
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