1. This is an application under Article 226 of the Constitution projected against the order No. FRS/308/ 81/39A dated 3-3-1982 passed by the Governor of Assam setting aside the settlement of a forest coupe in favour of the petitioner and settling 'the coupe' in favour of Respondent No, 5.
2. The petitioner, a young man, hoped to start his independent career as a forest contractor. When the Divisional Forest Officer, Digboi, for short 'the D. F. O.' invited tenders for various coupes including 'the Coupe designated as UDR(WB)PW Coupe No. 2/123 of 1980-81 (1979-80) he submitted his tender for 'the coupe', there were other tenderers and on scrutiny of the tenders the primary authority provisionally settled 'the coupe' with him and issued, work order No. 09/2895-97 dt/ 5-2-1982, forthwith he commenced operation of the coupe, felled the marked trees Nos. 22, 23, 24. 29, 30, 32, 33, 42 that is, 8 trees in all. These are all Holong trees 'with standing volume of 60.06 M3'. The petitioner has stated that for the operation he had to spend money, build camps, repair roads, engage elephants, trucks and persons required, for felling, sawing and cutting-necessary for the work. On 8-2-1982 he received a letter from the Range Officer that the settlement granted in his favour had been stayed by the Government. The stay order was passed in the appeal preferred by respondent No. 5 under Rule 9 (b) of the Assam Sale of Forest Produces, Coupes and Mahals Rules, 1977, for short 'the Rules.'
3. It appears clear that the petitioner had felled and, piece-marked the trees before the receipt of the stay order. There is no denial that the petitioner, on the strength of an existing, live and valid settlement order in his favour, felled the trees at his own costs and expenditure before the receipt of the stay order in the appeal. At the hearing of the appeal the felled trees were no longer 'standing trees' to form a part of the
coupe in question. We. have perused the impugned appellate order very carefully. We do not find in the order any inkling that respondent 5 was offered the settlement along with the eight trees felled by the petitioner. Surely, the appellate authority had no jurisdiction to pass such order, as, (1) the felled trees no longer remained 'part and parcel' of the coupe and (2) those trees became the absolute property of the petitioner as he had felled and marked them on the authority of a valid and existing work order.
4. Be that as it may, the appeal preferred by respondent No. 5 was upheld, the order of settlement was set aside and respondent No. 5 was settled with 'the coupe'. The order was passed on 2-3-82. So, the appellate order of settlement in favour of respondent No. 5 was in respect of the then existing 'coupe'.
5. The term, 'coupe' is defined in Rule 2 (g) as under:--
'(g) Coupe means a compact area where a number of trees are pre-mark-ed for sale.'
Therefore, a coupe is a compact area where a number of standing trees are pre-marked for sale. As such, by virtue of the appellate order, Respondent 5 obtained the coupe with the pre-marked trees other than the trees which had been felled, and piece-marked by the petitioner. It is indubitable that the felled trees had become the absolute property of the petitioner before the appellate order was rendered. The petitioner has already paid the first kist of Rs. 22,668/- as well as the security amount of Rs. 3500/-, in all, he has paid Rs. 26,168/- to the authority. The felled trees are his properties, subject to the payment of the price of 60.00 M 3 to the D. F. O. concerned, which the D. F. O. can very well calculate (the price of the trees) at the rate of Rs. 68,000/- for 'the coupe'.
6. Neither the State nor respondent No. 5 has questioned the above entitlement of the petitioner. Counsel for the petitioner submits that the petitioner only claims the said felled trees and does not press the application in respect of other reliefs.
7. We find that the petitioner is legally entitled to get the relief in respect of the 8 trees.
8. In the result we direct the respondents to permit the petitioner to remove the trees on payment of the price of the 8 trees at .the agreed rate ef Rs. 68,000/-.
for the entire coupe. However, the peti
tioner shall have to obtain necessary
transit pass etc. as prescribed under the
Assam Forests Regulation and 'the
9. In the result, the application is allowed to the extent indicated above. In so far as other reliefs are concerned the petitioner does not press them. Accordingly, the petitioner's claim in respect thereof are rejected.
10. The petition is allowed to the extent indicated above. No costs.