Mohd. Sardar Ali Khan, J. -
(1.)The subject matter of W.A.No.5 of 1992 is an order passed by a learned single Judge in W.P.M.P.21427/91 in W.P.No.11136/90dated21-12-1991. While passing the above said order, the learned single Judge himself directed that the Writ Petition itself may be posted before a Division Bench in view of an earlier judgment of a Division Bench in W.P.No.14329 of 1988 dated 9-8-1989. Therefore, both W.ANo.5 of 1992 and W.P. No.11136 of 1990 are being disposed of by a common judgment
(2.)In order to appreciate the proper questions of law and fact involved in the matter it would be necessary to refer to the sequence of facts as unfolded in W.P.11136/90. The Writ Petition has been filed by an organisation, called "Sakthi", a voluntary social organisation for the upliftment of Tribals, Rampachodavaram, East Godavari District, represented by its Director, Dr. P.Sivaramakrishna. Therefore, this is a public interest litigation which has been initiated by a social organisation avowedly for the preservation of environment by suitable ecological conditions existing in the concerned area. According to the submissions made in the Writ Petition, the Director of the said organisation. Dr. P.Sivarama Krishna introduces himself as a person who is challenging the constitutional validity of sub-section (3) of Section 28-B of the Andhra Pradesh Forest Act, 1967 (Act No.1 of 1967), hereinafter referred to as the "Forest Act" and further prays for a declaration that G.O.Ms.No.185, Energy, Forests, Environment, Science & Technology (Forests-III) Department, dated 9-7-1990 is illegal and void. The object of the Writ Petition is to prevent the cuttingof tree growth in Survey Nos.51/1 to 51/11 of Chintalapudi village in East Godavari District. The petitioner describes himself asone who has done research in songs of the tribals in Andhra Pradesh and has written a thesis on an allied subject for which he has been awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy of Osmania University in 1982. He asserts that he always contemplates the idea of uplifting the lot of tribals and for that purpose he formed an association of the tribals. The association has been given the name of "Sakthi" and has been registered as a society under the Societies Registration Act, 1960 (vide Registration No.76 of 1985) on 25-2-1985. The office of the association is located at Rampachodavaram and its activities extend to several areas in and around Rampachodavaram in East Godavari District. The main object of the society is described as the upliftment of the tribals, protection of ecology, prevention of illegal land transfers in favour of non-tribals etc. The petitioner has been elected as a Director to co-ordinate the activities of the society and to implement the programme as approved by the Executive Body, It is also stated that the association is being financially supported by the Integrated Tribal Development Agency of the Government of Andhra Pradesh, Oxfam India Trust and local contributions. A brief account of the activities of the society is given by the petitioner stating that training is imparted to the unemployed tribals in the trades of carpentry, blacksmith, canefurntirure production, palm fibre grading, mechanical and servicing etc. Moreover nurseries are raised and tree plantation has been undertaken to aid the I.T.D.A's programme of rehabilitation of shifting cultivators in the Kakawada Palteau of Rampachodovaram Mandal in an area of 1,300 hectares. This, in short, is the introduction of the petitioner-society, which gives a brief account of its activities in the field of conservation of forests and preservation of healthy environmental conditions and ecological balance which are so necessary in the humdrum of modern life. The 5th respondent, Mr. V.Sankara Reddy is a forest contractor and the power of attorney holder of 11 non-Tribal pattadars of land situate in Survey Nos.51/1 to 51/11 of Chintalapudi village in East Godavari District. It seems that these pattadars were originally the ryots of the erstwhile Muttadar of Mohanapurm Muttaand they were granted pattas under the Andhra Pradesh Muttas (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Regulation, 1969, by the Settlement Officer on 21 -2-1975. The total extent of the land covered by the said survey numbers is 208.19 heactares. The land for which pattas have been granted is a virgin forest land which was never brought under cultivation. It is asserted by the petitioner that the Settlement Officer ought not to have granted pattas to the above persons without conducting a proper enquiry and spot inspection of the land.
(3.)A new Chapter III-A was included in the Andhra Pradesh Forest Act, 1967, vide G.O.Ms.No.871 F & RD (For-III) dt.17-11-1977 by virtue of the powers conferred by para 5(1) of fifth schedule to the Constitution of India by the Governor of Andhra Pradesh. As a result of the introduction of Chapter III-A Section 28-A to Sec.28-G were included to protect the interests of the tribals. Subsequently, by G.O.Ms.No.410, Forests and Rural Development (Forests-III) Department, dated 7-6-1978, the Andhra Pradesh Preservation of Private Forest Rules, 1978 were promulgated by virtue of the powers conferred by Section 28-G of the Andhra Pradesh Forest Act, 1967 in respect of scheduled areas. In G.O.Ms.No.816, Forests and Rural Development (Forests-III) dated 25-11-1978, as amended by G.O.Ms.No.490, Food and Kural Development (Forests-III) dated 30-9-1981 the Governer of Andhra Pradesh declared that all lands in the scheduled areas under Mokhasa Grant, SubMutta and under tenures containing trees, shrubs etc., and all lands in the scheduled areas which have been or are proposed to be granted on ryotwari pattas under the Andhra Pradesh Mahals (Abolitionand Conversion into Ryotwari) Regulation, 1969, the Andhra Pradesh Muttas (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Regulation, 1969 the Andhra Pradesh Scheduled Areas Ryotwari Settlement Regulation, 1970 and the Darkhasth Rules made under Sections II and III of Board's Standing Order 15 containing trees, shrubs and copice growth shall be forest with effect from the date of publication of the notification in the Andhra Pradesh Gazette. Hence, the above land is included as "Forest" under Section 28-A of the Forest Act