Decided on June 13,1974



- (1.) This revision by the plaintiff the State of Kerala arises under the following circumstances.
(2.) The State brought the suit against the defendant, the Kannan Devan Hills Produce Co. Ltd. (hereinafter called the Company for short), for an injunction to restrain it from cutting and removing trees from land's covered by the Kannan Devan Concession Area. By an agreement, Ext. D3 dated 5-11-1970 the Company had given the petitioner the right to cut and remove trees from 5000 acres in the Concession Area for a period of 5 years. Pursuant to the agreement the petitioner has felled trees from a portion of the 5000 acres. The petitioner made two applications in the suit, one to be added as a party and the other for sale of the trees felled, through a Commissioner. The application for impleadment is stated to be still pending. The court sold the timber through a Commissioner and the sale proceeds amounting to Rs. 6,04,000/- were deposited in court. Thereafter the petitioner filed I. A. 2077 of 1971 for payment of Rs. 2,45,000/- which may roughly work to Rs. 45/- for cubic metre towards the cutting and stacking charges and construction of roads, culverts and bridges etc. and another Sum of Rs. 7,500/- being the amount paid to the Commissioner towards expenses for the conduct of the sale. The petitioner alleged that under the agreement, it had paid the Company an advance of one lakh of rupees, and that it entered into the agreement in the bona fide belief that it could carry on the work for a period of 5 years. It was further stated that for a long time the Forest Department had been granting permits in the name of the Company to remove the timber cut by the Company's lessees on payment of seigniorage to Government, that Government had never objected to the felling and removal of trees and that objection had been raised now for the first time after the petitioner had bona fide cut large number of trees and spent money on the construction of roads, bridges etc. for access to the interior of the forests and for removal of the timber. The application was opposed mainly by the State contending that it was not maintainable, that the State was not bound by the agreement, Ext. D3, that the agreement was beyond the Company's rights as the Company could cut trees only for the purposes of the plantation and that in any case the rate of Rs. 45/- per cubic metre claimed by the petitioner was excessive.
(3.) The court below held that the application was maintainable and that the rate claimed by the petitioner was acceptable. It accordingly allowed the petitioner to draw Rs. 1,50,000/- on account of cutting charges of the timber, over and above Rs. 95,000/- already paid to the petitioner under an interim order of 27-11-1971. The petitioner was also paid Rs. 7,500/-.;

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