Special Leave Petition (Civil) Nos. 13802 of 2006 (Arising out of the judgment and order dated 31/3/2006 in O.P. No. 3252/2003 of The High Court of Kerala at Ernakulam) and 1380 of 2007 (Arising out of the judgment and order dated 7/3/2006 in W.A. No. 1449/2003 of The High Court of Kerala at Ernakulam). Case: 1. State of Kerala, 2. State of Kerala and Ors. Vs 1. Abdul Ali, 2. Glen Leven Estate Limited, [Alongwith Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 26236/2008 (Arising out of the judgment and order dated 19/1/2007 in O.P. No. 5338/1994 of The High Court of Kerala at Ernakulam)]. Supreme Court

Case NumberSpecial Leave Petition (Civil) Nos. 13802 of 2006 (Arising out of the judgment and order dated 31/3/2006 in O.P. No. 3252/2003 of The High Court of Kerala at Ernakulam) and 1380 of 2007 (Arising out of the judgment and order dated 7/3/2006 in W.A. No. 1449/2003 of The High Court of Kerala at Ernakulam)
Party Name1. State of Kerala, 2. State of Kerala and Ors. Vs 1. Abdul Ali, 2. Glen Leven Estate Limited, [Alongwith Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 26236/2008 (Arising out of the judgment and order dated 19/1/2007 in O.P. No. 5338/1994 of The High Court of Kerala at Ernakulam)]
CounselFor Appellant: K. Padmanabhan Nair, Sr. Adv., Mohan Kumar B.R., Subramonium Prasad, Siddhartha Dave, A. Raghunath and B.V. Deepak, Advs.
JudgesG.S. Singhvi and Kurian Joseph, JJ.
IssueKerala Private Forests (Vesting and Assignment) Act, 1971 - Sections 2, 2(1), 3, 3(1), 3(2), 3(3); Kerala Preservation of Trees Act, 1986 - Sections 2, 4, 4(1), 4(2), 4(3), 4(4), 5, 5(1); Kerala Land Reforms Act, 1963 - Sections 82, 82(2), 82(3); State Reorganization Act, 1956 - Section 5(2); Madras Preservation of Private Forest Act, 1949 - ...
Citation2013 (2) KLT 881, 2013 (6) SCALE 555
Judgement DateApril 10, 2013
CourtSupreme Court

Order:

Kurian Joseph, J.

  1. Whether the land which is not a private forest as defined under The Kerala Private Forests (Vesting and Assignment) Act, 1971 can be brought under the teeth of The Kerala Preservation of Trees Act, 1986, is the moot question arising for consideration in these cases.

  2. The Kerala Private Forests (Vesting and Assignment) Act, 1971 (hereafter referred to as 'the Vesting and Assignment Act') was enacted to provide for the vesting in the Government of private forests in the State of Kerala and for the assignment thereof to agriculturists and agricultural labourers for cultivation. It is stated in the preamble that private forests in the State of Kerala are agricultural lands and that the Government wanted to utilize such agricultural lands so as to increase agricultural production and promote welfare of the agricultural production in the State. It may be noted that private forests were exempted from the purview of The Kerala Land Reforms Act, 1963, in the matter of ceiling.

  3. 'Private forest' has been defined under Section 2(f) of the Vesting and Assignment Act. The provision reads as follows:

    2(f) "private forest" means

    (1) in relation to the Malabar district referred to in Sub-section (2) of Section 5 of the State Reorganization Act, 1956 (Central Act 37 of 1956)-

    (i) any land which the Madras Preservation of Private Forest Act, 1949 (Madras Act XXVII of 1949), applied immediately before the appointed day excluding-

    (A) lands which are gardens or nilams as defined in the Kerala Land Reforms Act, 1963 (1 of 1964).

    (B) lands which are used principally for the cultivation of tea, coffee, cocoa, rubber, cardamom or cinnamon and lands used for any purpose ancillary to the cultivation of such crops or for the preparation of the same for the market.

    Explanation: Lands used for the construction of office buildings, godowns, factories, quarters for workmen, hospitals, schools and playgrounds shall be deemed to be lands used purposes ancillary to the cultivation of such crops;

    (C) lands which are principally cultivated with cashed or other fruit bearing trees or are principally cultivated and any other agricultural crop and

    (D) sites of buildings and land appurtenant to and necessary for the convenient enjoyment or use of such buildings;

    (ii) any forest not owned by the Government, to which the Madras Preservation of private Forests Act, 1949 did not apply, including waste lands which are enclaves within wooded areas.

    (2) in relation to the remaining areas in the State of Kerala any forest not owned by the Government including waste lands which are enclaves within wooded areas.

    Explanation: For the purpose of this clause, a land shall be deemed to be waste land notwithstanding the existence thereon of scattered trees or shrubs (sic shrubs);

    (Emphasis supplied)

  4. Section 3 of the Vesting and Assignment Act provides for the vesting of the private forests in the Government. In this Act, 10th May, 1971 has been noted as "appointed day". The provision reads as follows:

  5. Private forests vest in Government.-

    (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, or in any contract or other document but subject to the provisions of Sub-sections (2) and (3), with effect on and from the appointed day, the ownership and possession of all private forests in the State of Kerala shall by virtue of this Act, stand transferred to and vested in the Government free from all encumbrances, and the right, title and interest of the owner or any other person in any private forest shall stand extinguished.

    (2) Nothing contained in Sub-section (1) shall apply in respect of so much extend of land comprised in private forests held by an owner under his personal cultivation as is within the ceiling limit applicable to him under the Kerala Land Reforms Act, 1963 (1 of 1964) or any building or structure standing thereon or appurtenant thereto.

    Explanation: For the purposes of this Sub-section, 'cultivation' includes cultivation of trees or plants of any species.

    (3) Nothing contained in Sub-section (1) shall apply in respect of so much extent of private forests held by an owner under a valid registered document of title executed before the appointed day and intended for cultivation by him, which together with another lands held by him to which Chapter III of the Kerala Land Reforms Act, 1963, is applicable, does not exceed the extent of the ceiling area applicable to him under Section 82 of the said Act.

    (4) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Kerala Land Reforms Act, 1963, private forests shall, for the purposes of Sub-section (2) or Sub-section (3), be deemed to be lands to which Chapter III of the said Act is applicable and...

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