Decided on November 06,1997

Piyare Ram Respondents


ARUN KUMAR GOEL, J. - (1.)RESPONDENT was tried before the Court below for having committed offences under Section 379 I.P.C. and Section 33 of the Indian Forest Act (hereinafter referred to as the 'Act'). Challan in this case was filed by S.H.O. Police Station (Enforcement), South Zone, Shimla before the Court.
(2.)AS per prosecution case, in the month of June, 1983, Salig Ram Badiala (PW.1), Range Officer, Jubbal found that the respondent had encroached upon the forest land situated in Chhanjpur Lehat area and before doing so, he illicitly felled trees of different species. In these circumstances, area was got demarcated from the revenue officials and it transpired that 6.14 bighas of land had been encroached upon by the respondent comprised in Khasra No. 297/1 and 181 trees of different species were illicitly felled by him. In this background, letter (Ext. PW.1/A) was written to the Superintendent of Police (Enforcement), Shimla complaining about the said acts of the respondent which resulted in lodging of F.I.R. (Ext. PW.17/B). The matter was taken up for investigation. Land was got demarcated from the various officials in the presence of the respondent and demarcation report along with other revenue papers was proved on record as Exts. P.1 to P.9. 171 stumps of felled trees were got analysed from the various officials when Range Officer, Jubbal vide Ext. PW.1/B opined that the trees felled from Khasra No. 2971/1 were, in fact, felled between 2 ton 4n years, meaning thereby somewhere in the year 1980 -81. Because earlier the area in question was under Settlement which in the meantime was completed, therefore, demarcation was carried out as aforesaid. During the course of demarcation it further transpired that the area encroached upon by the respondent was 24 -10 bighas and not 6 -14 bighas comprised in Khasra Nos. 519 to 521 and 528 (New). Besides this another 20 trees were felled by the respondent after December, 1983. In this background, challan was filed against the respondent by the Enforcement Department. Charge under Section 33 of the Act for illicit felling of trees from the aforesaid land as also theft of different trees having been committed by the respondent was alleged against him and value of such trees was found to be of Rs. 47,425/ -, such trees belonged to the Forest Department of which theft was committed. Finally, by means of impugned judgment without going into other questions on the ground of the limitation, the prosecution case has been turned down, hence this appeal at the instance of the State.
(3.)MR . M.L. Chauhan, learned Assistant Advocate General who appeared in support of this appeal submitted that the case instituted against the respondent out of which this appeal has arisen was well within time. The offence had been detected as per Ext. PW.1/A in the month of December, 1983 and challan was put in Court in the month of October, 1986 i.e. within three years of the detection of the offence. Alternate argument of Shri Chauhan was that this is a continuing offence and as per provisions of Section 472 Cr.P.C. the complaint was well within time and he urged for reversal of the impugned judgment.
On the other hand, learned counsel for the respondent controverted the plea raised by the learned Assistant Advocate General and pointed out that on its own showing, first damage report (Ext. PW.4/A) was issued by PW.4, Attar Singh, Forest Guard. Thus, according to him offence came to be detected on 2.4.1983 and thereafter in the month of June, 1983 both the commission of offence as well as the offender had been named which position is clear from Ext. PW.1/A collective reading of Ext. PW.1/A the F.I.R. lodged with the Enforcement Department and the damage report vide Ext. PW.4/A clearly belied the stand of the prosecution as per learned counsel for the respondent.

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