Civil Appeals Nos. 9617-18 of 1995 with Civil Appeal No. 3012 of 1987. Case: 1. D. Ramakrishna Reddy and others, 2. The Conservator of Forest, Nizamabad and another Vs 1. The Addl. Revenue Divisional Officers and others, 2. D. Ramakrishna Reddy and others. Supreme Court

Case Number:Civil Appeals Nos. 9617-18 of 1995 with Civil Appeal No. 3012 of 1987
Party Name:1. D. Ramakrishna Reddy and others, 2. The Conservator of Forest, Nizamabad and another Vs 1. The Addl. Revenue Divisional Officers and others, 2. D. Ramakrishna Reddy and others
Counsel:For Appearing Parties: A. Subba Rao, Anil Kumar Tandale and P. Venkata Reddy, Advocates
Judges:D. P. Mohapatra And R. P. Sethi, JJ.
Issue:Andhra Pradesh Land Reforms (Ceiling on Agricultural Holdings) Act - Sections 11, 15
Citation:AIR 2000 SC 2723, AIR 2000 SCW 2904, JT 2000 (9) 397, 2001 (3) LRI 960, 2000 (7) SCC 12, 2000 (3) SCJ 289, 2000 (8) SRJ 123, 2000 (6) Scale 29, 2000 (6) Supreme 30
Judgement Date:August 18, 2000
Court:Supreme Court
 
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Judgment:

D. P. Mohapatra, J.

  1. These three appeals filed on the basis of the certificate of fitness granted by the High Court of Andhra Pradesh involve common questions of facts and law. Therefore, they were heard together and they are being disposed of by this Judgment. Civil Appeal No. 3012 of 1987 filed by the Conservator of Forests, Nizamabad Division and the Divisional Forest Officer, Kama Reddy, is directed against the Judgment of the Division Bench of High Court of Andhra Pradesh in Writ Appeal No. 731 of 1982, whereas Civil Appeals Nos. 9617-18/95 filed by D. Ramakrishna Reddy and four others are directed against the Judgment of the Division Bench of the High Court in Writ Appeals Nos. 790 and 676 of 1982. All the writ appeals were filed against the judgment dated 22-4-1982 passed by the learned single Judge disposing of Writ Petitions Nos. 5793 of 1979 and 637 of 1982. Both these writ petitions were filed by D. Ramakrishna Reddy and others assailing the taking over possession of surplus land from them under the provisions of the Andhra Pradesh Land Reforms (Ceiling and Agricultural Holdings) Act, 1973 (Act I of 1973). The specific controversy raised in the cases related to the right of the petitioners to cut and remove trees from the forest area which was a part of the surplus land. The case of the petitioners, as appears from the discussions in the Judgment of the learned single Judge, was that the forest land, though a part of the surplus land in their hands had not vested in the State Government, and therefore, they were entitled to cut and remove the trees standing on the said land before handing over possession of the land to the State Government. The writ petitioners also pleaded that long before the land was declared surplus with them, they had moved the competent authority of the Forest department for grant of transit permits to them for cutting and removing the standing trees. The authorities sat over the matter and did not issue the requisite transit permit. Therefore, the writ petitioners sought a writ of mandamus directing the authorities concerned to issue necessary transit permit.

  2. The State Government, particularly the Officers concerned of the Forest Department, contested the case mainly on the grounds that the entire surplus land in the hands of the writ petitioners had vested in the State Government along with the forest growth on a portion of the same. The land including the trees and other forest produce were the property of the State Government and the writ petitioners had no right to cut and remove the trees on any portion of the surplus land which had vested in the State Government.

  3. The learned single Judge, considering the case of the parties, formulated the following questions for determination:-

  4. When does the land surrendered by the landholder vest in the State?

  5. Whether the forest produce standing on the land surrendered also vests in the State along with the land? and

  6. Whether the petitioners are entitled to any relief on the ground that they had been approaching for the last several years for permits to cut and remove the forest produce on the said land, but were prevented from doing so on account of inaction on the part of or wrong orders passed by the officers of the Forest Department?

    The learned single Judge divided the writ petitioners into three categories; in the first category were included petitioners D. Narasimha Reddy and D. Venkata Reddy, the second category related to D. Ramakrishna Reddy and the third category related to petitioners G. Laxma Reddy and G. Bhoopal Reddy. The appellants herein who were included in the first category surrendered the surplus land in their possession on 1-3-1979. Regarding the second category, the learned single Judge observed that the petitioner had neither surrendered the surplus land nor possession had been taken by following the procedure prescribed under the Act and the rules, though notice in Form No. IX was served on the petitioner on 12-11-1979. Similarly, in respect of the third category of petitioners, the observation was that neither notice under Form No. IX had been issued nor served on the party. The learned single Judge held that vesting of the surplus land takes place on the date the Form No. IX notice is issued and served upon the person concerned. In support of the finding, he placed reliance on the language of Section 11 of the Act and the contents of Form IX. The learned single Judge further held that the surplus land vests in the Government free from all encumbrances from the date of the order to take possession which is stated in Form IX notice. On the basis of the above findings, the learned single Judge held that in the case of Categories 1 and 2, i.e. the writ petitioners 1, 2 and 5, the surplus land had vested in the State in the year 1979 itself...

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