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Bhadravathi Division Saw Mills Owners and Timber Merchants Association Vs. State of Karnataka - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtKarnataka High Court
Decided On
Case NumberW.P. No. 17750 of 1984
Judge
Reported inILR1986KAR2298
ActsKarnataka Forest Act, 1963; Karnataka Forest Rules, 1969 - Rules 149, 149(6), 147(7), 164, 164(1) and 165
AppellantBhadravathi Division Saw Mills Owners and Timber Merchants Association
RespondentState of Karnataka
Appellant AdvocateKadidal Manjappa, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateS. Udayashankar, HCGP
DispositionWrit petition allowed
Excerpt:
karnataka forest act, 1963 (karnataka act no. 5 of 1964) & karnataka forest rules, 1969 - object, purpose and intendment.;a bird's eye view of the relevant provisions of the act and the rules make, it clear that the movement of the timber and other forest produce within the state either by land or water or by sea or by rail is fully controlled and regulated by the act and the rules. strict compliance with the provisions of the act and the rules is necessary in order to safeguard and protect the forest produce, protected forest, reserved forest, reserved trees of the state and to prevent and put an end to smuggling of forest produce.;-- karnataka forest rules, 1969 - rule 149 -- circulars & notices dated 9-10-1984, 17-10-1984, 2-11-1984, 12-11-1984 & 20-11-1984 -- circular.....orderk.a. swami, j.1. in this petition under article 226 of the constitution, the petitioners have sought for quashing the circular dated 17-10-1984 issued by the deputy conservator of forests bhadravathi division, bhadravathi produced as annexure-c and the notice dated 17-10-1984 issued by the assistant conservator of forests, produced as annexure-d ; and another communication dated 20-11-84 issued by the divisional forest officer, tarikere, to the saw-mill owners, produced as annexure-e, and also another notice dated 12-11-1984 issued by the forester, town checking duty, bhadravathi range, bhadravathi to all the saw-mill owners, produced as annexure-f. the petitioners have also sought for quashing another circular dated 2-11-1984 issued by the deputy conservator of forests,bhadravathi,.....
Judgment:
ORDER

K.A. Swami, J.

1. In this Petition under Article 226 of the Constitution, the petitioners have sought for quashing the Circular dated 17-10-1984 issued by the Deputy Conservator of Forests Bhadravathi Division, Bhadravathi produced as Annexure-C and the notice dated 17-10-1984 issued by the Assistant Conservator of Forests, produced as Annexure-D ; and another communication dated 20-11-84 issued by the Divisional Forest Officer, Tarikere, to the Saw-mill owners, produced as Annexure-E, and also another notice dated 12-11-1984 issued by the Forester, Town Checking Duty, Bhadravathi Range, Bhadravathi to all the Saw-mill owners, produced as Annexure-F. The Petitioners have also sought for quashing another Circular dated 2-11-1984 issued by the Deputy Conservator of Forests,Bhadravathi, produced as Annexure-G. In addition to this, the petitioners have also sought for issue of a Writ in the nature of Mandamus directing the respondents not to compel the saw-mill owners to obtain prior permission of the authorities before taking up the sawing job and not to compel the purchasers of timber from the Government Depots or from the private holdings to obtain passes in Form No. 29 and further, not to prevent the authorised persons or their agents from issuing way permits in Form No. 31 and not to compel them to surrender the books of blank way permits in Form No. 31 which have already been issued to them and further to direct the 3rd respondent to issue authenticated books of blank way permits in Form No. 31 as provided under Rule 149 of the Karnataka Forest Rules (hereinafter referred to as the 'Rules') and the Karnataka Forest Act (hereinafter referred to as the 'Act').

2. The first petitioner is a registered association known as 'Bhadravathi Division Saw Mill Owners and Timber Merchants Association, Bhadravathi'. Petitioners 2 and 3 are saw mill owners of Bhadravathi. The Petition is filed to ventilate the grievances of the saw mill owners.

3. The case of the petitioners is that petitioners 2 and 3 and other members of the first petitioner-Association purchase timber and forest produce either from the Government Depot or from the Private holdings and the timber so purchased is taken to their timber depots or to their saw-mill under Forms 27 and 28 ; that they are also authorised to issue Form No. 31 ; that they have been scrupulously following the provisions of the Act and the Rules ; that inspite of this, the concerned Forest Officer does not issue the book of way-permits in Form No. 31 as and when they apply for it and that the book containing unused way-permits in Form No. 31 is unnecessarily directed to be produced though it is not required for the purpose of clarification as the counterfoil of used Form No. 31 and the accounts maintained in that regard are more than sufficient ; that Form No. 31 are not issued by the persons other than those who are authorised to issue ; that whenever Form No. 31 are issued by persons other than those authorised to issue, are no other than the partners of the firm ; that Form No. 29 is not applicable to the saw Mill owners who purchase timber from the Government Depot and from the private holdings ; that New Bharat Saw Mill and Mysore Saw Mill of Tarikere and Shankar Saw Mill of Bhadravathi established in the year 1984 have applied for issue of authorisations in Form No. 30, and so far, they have not been issued with the authorisations ; that the various circulars and notices issued by the respondents as per Annexure-B to G are not in accordance with the provisions of the Act and the Rules ; as such, the same are liable to be quashed.

4. On the contrary, it is contended by Sri. S. Udayashankar, learned High Court Government Pleader, that Rule 149 of the Rules empowers the Forest Officer not below the rank of Divisional Forest Officer to take steps in the manner it is now taken by issuing the circulars and notices as per Annexures B to G ; therefore, there is nothing wrong in issuing the impugned circulars. It is also further contended that an authorisation issued as per. Form No. 30 and the way-permit book containing Form No. 31 are required to be used only by those persons who are authorised in Form No. 30 and not by others, therefore the way permits wherever they are allowed to be used by persons other than those mentioned in the authorisation issued in Form No. 30 is illegal and an action is required to be taken on that basis and it is also open to the authorities to refuse to issue way permits on that ground. It is also further contended that Form No. 29 is also applicable for removal of timber and other forest produce from private markets or private depots or imported into private markets and depots from outside the State and in such cases without Form No. 29 issued by the officer designated in that regard the timber sold in the private markets and private depots cannot at all be moved out from the said private markets and private depots. Learned Government Pleader further submits that it is always open to the Officer falling within the description of Rule 149 of the Rules, to call for the accounts and returns and also the way permit book containing Form No. 31 in order to prevent malpractices which are likely to keep control over the sawmill owners and to ensure that the way permits in Form No. 31 are properly utilised and the provisions of the Act and the Rules are not violated in any manner.

5. In view of the aforesaid contentions, the points that arise for consideration are as follows :

(1) Whether the impugned circulars and notices issued as per Annexures B to G are sustainable in law ?

(2) Whether blank way permits issued in Form No. 31 are required to be returned ?

(3) Whether the Saw-Mill Owners and the private depot owners who purchase, timber or other forest produce from the Government Depot and from the private holdings and bring such forest produce and timber into their saw-mill or timber depot under Form No. 27 and 28 respectively, are required to obtain Form No. 29 In other words, whether Form No. 29 applies to such persons ?

(4) Whether the 3rd Respondent is justified in not issuing authorisation in Form No. 30 to New Bharat Saw Mill and Mysore Saw Mill of Tarikere and Shankar Saw Mill of Bhadravathi?

(5) Whether the way permit in Form No. 31 can be issued by persons other than those in whose favour the authorisation is issued in Form No. 30 ?

5.1 Before the aforesaid points are taken up for determination, it is necessary to advert to the relevant provisions of the Act and the Rules.

Chapter VI of the Act deals with the Control of Timber and other Forest Produce in Transit. Sections 50, 51 and 52 are found in that Chapter. Sub-section (1) of Section 50 of the Act vests the State Government with the control of all rivers and their banks as regards the floating of timber as well as the control of all timber and other forest produce in transit by land or water. It also further empowers the State Government to make rules to regulate the transit of all timber and other forest produce. Sub-section (2) thereof provides for the topics on which the rules can be framed. Of course, those topics are only illustrative and are not exhaustive because Sub-section (2) opens with the words 'In particular and without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing power, such rules may.' Sub-section (3) thereof further empowers the State Government to make rules regarding punishment of guilty persons for the contravention thereof. Section 51 of the Act provides that the State Government and Forest Officer shall not be responsible for any loss or damage which may occur in respect of any timber or other forest produce while at a depot established under rules made under Section 50, or while detained elsewhere, for the purpose of the Act, unless the Forest Officer causes such loss or damage wilfully, negligently, maliciously or fraudulently. Section 52 of the Act makes all persons bound to aid in case of accident at depot.

Chapter XVI of the Rules provides for the Transit of Forest Produce and Control of Private Saw Pits, Saw Mills, etc. Rule 143 of the Rules provides that the expression 'Forest produce in transit' includes forest produce found in or on the margin of any public road, whether loaded in any conveyance or not, forest produce found or being conveyed in any river, tank, lake, pond, reservoir or sea and forest produce lying in railway yards, ports or air-ports whether loaded or otherwise. Rule 144 of the Rules provides that save as provided in Rules 154 and 155 no person shall transport or move or attempt or abet the transport or movement of any forest produce into, within or outside the State of Karnataka except under and in accordance with a a pass issued by a Forest Officer duly authorised in this behalf by or under the rules to issue such pass. Thus, without a pass no person shall transport or move or attempt or abet the transport or movement of any forest produce. There are certain exceptions to it, which are provided in the proviso to Rule 144 of the Rules. For our purpose, it is not necessary to refer to the same. Rule 145 of the Rules provides that pass for transport or removal of forest produce belonging to the Government shall be white in colour and issued by Range Forest Officer or a subordinate officer duly authorised by him in Form No. 25 for timber and in Form No. 26 for other forest produce. Sub-rule (2) thereof further provides that pass for transport or removal of forest produce purchased from Government forest or depots shall be blue in colour and issued by the Forest Officer duly authorised in this behalf by the Divisional Forest Officer in Form No. 27. Sub-rule (3) thereof further provides that such passes in respect of the timber or forest produce from inam lands or private lands including coffee lands shall be yellow in colour and issued in Form No, 28 by the officers mentioned therein. Sub-rule (4) thereof further provides that pass for transport or removal of forest produce from private market or from outside the State shall be green in colour and issued in Form No. 29 by a Forest Officer not below the rank of a Forester. Rule 146 of the Rules provides for making of an application for issue of pass in Form No. 28. Rule 147 of the Rules provides a special provision for transport of timber other than teak and rosewood, exceeding 25 cm. in girth. Rule 148 of the Rules provides that the forest pass shall not cover more than one load, irrespective of the mode of conveyance provided that the Divisional Forest Officer may permit one pass to cover head loads or animal-loads not exceeding twenty, and cart loads not exceeding five, if the destination is not more than 25 kilometres from the starting point and all loads are taken at one and the same time. Rule 149 of the Rules provides for issue of authorisation to issue way permits. Sub-rule (1) thereof authorises a Forest Officer not below the rank of a Divisional Forest Officer to authorise the owner of any forest produce or his agent for a specified period not exceeding a year to issue way-permits on his registering his property mark under Rule 153. The authorisation has to be issued in Form No. 30, Such authorisation is renewable arid it can also be cancelled. Sub-rule (2) thereof provides that an application seeking authorisation in Form No. 30 shall have to be made in Form No. 32. Certain fee has to be paid and other requirements have to be complied with as mentioned therein. Sub-rule (3) thereof provides that the Forest Officer receiving the applications may refuse to issue or renew the authorisation to any person after giving the applicant an opportunity of being heard in the matter and he shall record his reasons for such refusal. The fee paid has to be refunded in case the application is rejected. Sub-rule (4) thereof provides that the authorised officer shall supply from time to time authenticated books of blank way-permit forms not exceeding 100 at a time to the person or his agent who is authorised to issue way-permits. Sub-rule (5) thereof provides that no person authorised to issue way-permits shall issue way-permits otherwise than in accordance with the conditions of ther authorisation. Sub-rule(6) thereof provides that the counterfoils of all used way-permits together with unused forms of way-permits, not required for use, shall be returned to the officer issuing the forms and no fresh forms shall be supplied until the counterfoils of all way-permits issued are returned. Sub-rule (7) thereof provides that any person or his agent who has been authorised to issue way-permits is bound to produce for inspection or to surrender the counter foils of all way-permits and way permit forms unused, if called upon by any Forest Officer. Sub-rule (8) thereof provides that on cancellation of the authority issued in Form No. 30 or on expiry of the period for which the authorisation is issued the person in whose favour the authorisation is issued has to forthwith return to the officer who gave the authority, every unused book of way-permits or portions of any such book in his possession, together with the counterfoils of used forms, if any which he has not returned. No value for the unused books is liable to be refunded. The Divisional Forest Officer on receipt of the unused forms is required to cancel in the presence of the Divisional Forest Officer and a note has to be made to that effect in the register maintained for the issue of way-permits. Sub-rule (9) thereof provides that the way-permit is valid it it is issued by the person who is authorised to issue and is prepared on a blank form supplied for that purpose under Sub-rule (4) thereof and it is not valid if it is issued by the person after the cancellation of the authority, to issue such way permit or if it is issued after the expiry of the period specified in the authority or otherwise than in accordance with the conditions of authorisation. Sub-rule (10) thereof makes it incumbent upon the office granting authorisation to issue way-permits to maintain a register in Form No. 33 of all authorisations issued by him. So also, Sub-rule (11) thereof further makes it incumbent upon the Forest Officer who supplies way-permit forms to maintain a register in Form No. 34 of all way-permit forms supplied by him and the unused way-permits returned. Correspondingly, Sub-rule (12) thereof makes it incumbent upon the persons Who are authorised to issue way-permits to maintain an account of way-permit forms received by them and way-permit forms issued by them and the unused forms surrendered together with the daily transactions of timber and other forest produce in a register in Form No. 35. This sub-rule further makes it incumbent upon them to render the accounts to the Divisional Forest Officer every month. 'Rules 150 and 151 of the Rules deal with the import of forest produce, import pass and import properly marks brought into the State otherwise than by sea. These Rules need not be referred to because we are rot concerned with such import in this petition. Sub-rule (1) of Rule 152 of the Rules deals with the transport of imported forest produce brought into the State otherwise than by sea. It specifically provides that such forest produce after entry into the State shall have to be conveyed within the limits of the State beyond the first check post only with a pass issued in Form No. 29 after surrender of the import pass and on production of the certificate of registration of import property mark issued under Rule 153. Sub-rules (2) and (3) thereof provide for certain other requirements to be complied with for conveying the forest produce within the limits of the State after it is brought into the State. Sub-rule (3) thereof specifically provides that no forest produce brought into the State by sea or rail shall be moved or transported from the place to which it is booked without a pass in Form No. 29 issued. It also further provides that such forest produce shall not be removed from such place without having it stamped by a Government transit mark by the Range Forest Officer or any other Officer. Rule 153 of the Rules provides for registration or renewal of property mark. Before an authorisation to issue way-permits is issued the applicant shall have to register the property mark. Form No. 32 specifically provides for mentioning the property mark registered in respect of the forest produce for which the authorisation to issue way-permits is sought. Similarly, for import of forest produce also import property mark shall have to be registered. Person who has registered his or her property mark is also required to maintain proper and clear accounts of the transactions of the forest produce, showing the particulars as to how and wherefrom the forest produce was obtained, the kind and quantity of the produce removed and the passes under which such removals were effected, and such accounts are open for inspection by any Forest-Officer. Refusal to produce the accounts or maintenance of incorrect accounts or non-maintenance of the accounts, entails cancellation of the property mark so registered. Rules 154, 155, 156 and 157 of the Rules relate to sandalwood. It is not necessary to refer to the same. Similarly, Rules 158, 159, 160 and 162 are not relevant for our purpose. Therefore, the same need not be referred to. Rule 164 of the Rules enumerates the duties of the licensee, which will be referred to at the appropriate place. Rules 164-A and 164-B are not relevant for our purpose. Rule 165 of the Rules provides for conviction and punishment for imprisonment or fine or both for the contravention of the Rules mentioned therein.

5.2 Thus, a bird's eye view of the relevant provisions Of the Act and the Rules make it clear that the movement of the timber and other forest produce within the State either by land or water or by sea or by rail is fully controlled arid regulated by the Act and the Rules. Strict compliance with the aforesaid provisions of the Act and the Rules is necessary in order to safeguard and protect the forest produce, protected forest, reserved forest, reserved trees of the State and to prevent and put an end to smuggling of forest produce.

POINTS 1, 2 and 3 :

6.1 Points 1, 2 and 3 can be dealt together as they are interconnected. I do not see anything wrong in the circular dated 9-10-1984, produced as Annexure-B. The circular only directs the saw-mill owners to keep proper accounts as required by the Act and the Rules and render all assistance to the inspection staff. The circular only reminds the sawmill owners to do and observe certain things which under the provisions of the Act and the Rules they are bound to do. Therefore, it is not possible to hold that the circular Annexure-B dated 9-10-1984 is either beyond the power of the authority who has issued it or it suffers from any infirmity.

6.2. Circular dated 17-10-1984, Annexure-C, issued by the Deputy Conservator of Forests, Bhadravathi Division, Bhadravathi, directs the saw-mill owners to return way-permits issued in Form No. 31 for the purpose of verification and in the meanwhile Form No. 29 be issued to them The very same Circular was challenged before this Court. It is held by this Court that the said circular is issued as a temporary measure to check Form No. 31 and to find out whether the way permits have been properly utilised or not. It is also further necessary to notice in this regard that the Divisional Forest Officer is entitled to direct the saw-mill owners to submit the accounts and the counter-foils of the used Form No. 31, for the purpose of verification of accounts and also to find out whether Form No. 31 are properly utilised or not and whether the provisions of the Act and the Rules are complied with or not. But, I do not see any justification for the direction to the saw mill owners to submit the blank authenticated Form No. 31 unless the validity of such forms has expired. Sub-rule (1) of Rule 149 of the Rules specifically states that the authorisation in Form No. 30 is issued for a maximum period of one year at a time. Thus when the authorisation itself has to last for a period of one year, blank authenticated way permits in Form No. 31 which are issued pursuant to the authority granted in Form No. 30, cannot be utilised beyond the specified period. Therefore, it is only when the period of validity of the authority issued in Form No. 30 expires, the unused authenticated way-permits in Form No. 31 will have to be surrendered and not otherwise. In this connection, it is relevant to notice Sub-rule (6) of Rule 149. It provides that :

'The counterfoils of all used way permits together with unused forms of way-permits, not required for use, shall be returned to the officer issuing the forms and no fresh forms shall be supplied until the counterfoils of all way-permits are returned '

Thus, this sub-rule makes it clear that unused forms of way-permits are not required to be surrendered unless the same are not required. Therefore, the Forest Officer without any justification cannot compel a person who is authorised to issue way-permits in Form No. 31 to surrender unused forms of way-permits. Of course, where a specific case of malpractice is found to have been proved after notice to a saw mill owner and after affording him an opportunity. of hearing; the book containing unused authenticated way-permits issued in Form No. 31, is required to be surrendered, irrespective of the fact that the period of validity of authorisation issued in Form No. 30 has not yet expired. In such a case even the authorisation issued in Form No. 30 is liable to be cancelled. In the event of cancellation of authorisation, the unused way-permits are also required to be surrendered.

6.3 However, Sri S. Udayashankar, Learned Government Pleader, places reliance on Sub-rule (7) of Rule 149 of the Rules and submits that a person or his agents who has been authorised to issue way permits is bound, if called upon, by the Forest Officer, to surrender the counter-foils of all ways permits and way-permit-forms unused for inspection. Therefore, it is submitted that even the unused way-permits issued in Form No. 31 can also be directed to be surrendered. No doubt, Sub-rule (7) of Rule 149 vests the Forest Officer with such power. But this does not mean that without, any justification the Forest Officer according to his whims and fancies call upon a person or his agents who have been authorised to issue way-permits to surrender the same. The possession of power by a statutory authority, is no justification for the arbitrary exercise of such power by him. The exercise of power by an authority must always be bona fide. Exercise of power by a statutory authority affecting a person or property or right of any person without any justification, unless it is shown otherwise, normally leads to an inference that it is done without bona fide, it appears to me thai the unused way-permits issued in Form No. 31 for the purpose of inspection during the subsistence of the authorisation are not necessary inasmuch as the counter foils of used way-permit forms and the accounts maintained in Form No. 35 as per Sub-rule (12) of Rule 149 of the Rules will give complete picture of the transactions in timber and other forest produce by a saw-mill owner or a private depot owner. Of course, when there is a violation of the provisions of the Act and the Rules and the conditions of authorisation issued in Form No. 30 etc. and a notice is issued to a saw-mill owner in this regard, during the course of enquiry it is open to the Forest Officer to direct the saw mill owner to submit even the unused authenticated way-permits issued in Form No. 31. But, in the normal course, such a direction to a saw-mill owner or a private depot owner to submit the unused authenticated way-permits issued in Form No. 31 as it is already ; pointed out is not permissible. Such arbitrary exercise of power results in unnecessary interference with the normal course of business as it hampers the normal trade activities. Therefore, it is not open to the Forest Officer as and when he desires to direct a saw-mill owner or a private depot owner to submit authenticated unused way-permits issued in Form No. 31 without any justification.

6.4 Annexure-D states that before the saw-mill owners undertake the sawing job, they must obtain the prior permission of the officer concerned. In this regard, it is pertinent to notice Sub-rule (1) of Rule 164 of the Rules. The Rule specifically provides that :

'No licensee shall undertake sawing of timber belonging to other person on job-work, unless he is satisfied about the bona fides of such timber by examining the connected pass or way-permit and the marks on the timber. If he suspects the bona fides of the timber, he shall detain the timber and immediately report the fact to the nearest Forest or Police Officer for taking further action.'

That being so, when the Rule itself reposes confidence in the licensee (saw-mill owner) to undertake job work of sawing timber belonging to other person on being satisfied with the bona fides of such timber, I do not see any justification for Annexure-D. The Assistant Conservator of Forest through Annexure-D, has directed the saw-mill owners that in every case before he undertakes sawing of the timber of other persons he must obtain the prior permission. Such a direction cannot at all be construed to fall either under Rule 165 of the Rules, which provides for imposition of penalty for contravention of the provisions of the Rules mentioned therein or under any other Rule. That being so, Annexure-D cannot be sustained. Even otherwise, Annexure-D makes it impossible for a saw-mill owner to carry on his normal trade activities. If he is required to take prior permission in respect of each and every job of sawing timber of other person he undertakes, it is almost impossible for him to get on with the work regularly and day-to-day. It causes great inconvenience not only to a saw mill owner but also to a customer who brings timber to a saw-mill for sawing and at the same time it does not serve any purpose except causing inconvenience as aforesaid. Thus, Annexure-D is beyond the power of the authority who has issued it. It is quite opposed to Rule 164 of the Rules.

6.5 Annexure-E is another communication addressed to all the saw mill owners of Tarikere. It states that all way-permits issued in Form No. 31 be returned to the Divisional Forest Officer and Form No. 29 will be issued in place of Form No. 31 which have to be submitted for inspection. First, as it is already pointed out, in the normal course there being no proceeding of malpractice, counter-foils of used Form No. 31 along with the accounts maintained in Form No. 35 as per Sub-rule (12) of Rule 149 of the Rules are sufficient for the purpose of inspection and the authenticated unused way-permits issued in Form No 31 during the period of validity are not required for the purpose of inspection. Further, Form No. 29 is not applicable to saw-mill owners and the private timber depot owners, who purchase timber and other forest produce from the Government Forest or Government timber depot or from the private holdings including coffee lands. The saw-mill owners represented by the first petitioner in other words the members of the first Petitioner-Association are stated to be those who purchase timber falling under Form No. 27 and 28. That being so, to such saw-mill owners and the owners of private timber depots, Form No. 29 is not applicable. Therefore, 'they cannot be directed to use Form No. 29. It is already pointed out that for the purpose of inspection only the counter-foils of used Form No. 31 and the relevant accounts maintained in that regard are required to be produced and not the unused authenticated way-permits issued in Form No. 31.

6.6. In fact, Form No. 29 states that it is a pass for the removal of timber and oilier forest produce from private markets or private timber depots or imported from outside the State. One of the columns in Form No. 29 namely column No. 10 the information as to number and date of pass in Form 25, 26 or import pass disposed of, to be stated. Form Nos. 25 and 26 are the passes for transporting Government timber and forest produce other than timber belonging to the Government from Government forest to the Government timber yard or depot. The passes issued in Form No. 25 and 26 are intended to be used for transporting the Government timber and other forest produce from the forest belonging to the Government. Saw-mill owners, private depot owners or other persons, who purchase in the Government forest or Government depots the timber or other forest produce belonging to the Government in order to transport such timber or forest produce to their depots or to the private market or to their places, have to obtain passes in Form Nos. 27 and 28. As it is noticed earlier Sub-rule (4) of Rule 145 of the Rules provides that pass for transport or removal of forest produce from private market or from outside the State shall have to be in green colour in Form No. 29 issued by a Forest Officer not below the rank of a Forester. No doubt, Form No. 29 apart from describing the pass for removal of timber or other forest produce from private markets or imported from outside the State it also mentions private depots. Rule 152 of the Rules which provides for transport of imported forest produce after entry into the State directs that the forest produce which is imported by sea, rail, road or water shall have to be conveyed after entry into the State within the limits of the State by road or water, rail or with a pass issued in Form No. 29. It follows from Sub-rule (4) of Rule 145 and Sub-rules (1) and (3) of Rule 152 of the Rules read with Form No. 29, that Form No. 29 is issued by the Forest Officer not below the rank of a Forester for removing timber and other forest produce from private markets or private depots and also for conveying the timber or other forest produce imported from outside the State. It is also possible to obtain Form No. 29 by those private depot owners who have not obtained authorisation in Form No. 30 and are not authorised to issue way-permits in Form No. 31. Thus, Form No. 29 is not applicable to those saw-mill owners and private depot owners who are authorised to issue way-permits. Further, the way-permits issued in Form No. 31 are intended to be used for transporting the timber or other forest produce sold by the saw-mill owners or private depot owners which they bad bought from the Government yard or the Government depot or from private holdings including coffee lands. Therefore, there is no question of applying Form No. 29 to those who purchase the timber or other forest produce from the Government yard or depot and from private holdings including coffee lands and transport the same into their saw mills or private depots under Form Nos. 27 and 28. As such, they cannot be compelled to use Form No. 29. Consequently, Annexure-E also liable to be quashed.

6.7. Annexure-F is dated 1/2-11-1984. It states that the saw mill owners have not used Form No. 31 properly and there are several irregularities committed by them in using them ; therefore Form No. 31 be returned and in place Form No. 29 be obtained. The reasons given in relation to Annexure-E equally apply to Annexure-F. As such, Annexure-F is not sustainable. Annexure-G directs the saw-mill owners to attend the office of the Deputy Conservator of Forests on 17-11-1984 along with Form No. 31 for verification. I do not see anything wrong with Annexure-G. Hence, there is no reason to quash it.

6.8 For the reasons stated above, Points 1 to 3 are answered as follows :

Point No. 1 : Annexures D, E and F are not sustainable. Annexures B, C and G are valid and do not call for interference.

Point No. 2 : Blank unused authenticated way-permits issued in Form No. 31 are not required to be returned during the period of their validity unless the same are required in connection with an enquiry or proceeding initiated against a saw-mill owner or a private depot owner for the alleged contravention of the condition/s of the authorisation, or the provisions of the Act or the Rules or any other legal proceeding connected with the timber or other forest produce dealt by the saw-mill owner or a private depot owner.

Point No. 3 : Form No. 29 does not apply to saw-mill owners or private depot owners who purchase timber and other forest produce from the Government-timber yard or depot and from private holdings including coffee lands and transport the same into their saw-mill or private depot under Form No. 27 and 28.

Point No. 4 :

7.1 It is not in dispute that New Bharat Saw Mill and Mysore Saw Mill at Tarikere and Shankar Saw Mill at Bhadravathi have been issued with the licences for the purpose of running their saw-mills. They have applied for grant of authorisations in Form No. 30. Applications are stated to have been filed in the months of March and June, 1984. No reason whatsoever is advanced on behalf of the Respondents for not issuing authorisations in Form No. 30 and way-permits in Form No 31. When a saw mill owner purchases timber and other forest produce from the Government timber yard or depot and from private holdings including coffee lands and transports the same into his sawmill under Form No. 27 and 28 he will not be able to transact the business in timber and other forest produce so bought by him unless an authorisation is issued to him in Form No. 30 and he is also supplied with the way-permits in Form No. 31. Otherwise the timber or other forest produce purchased from his saw-mill cannot be removed from the saw-mill by the purchaser unless the way-permit in Form No. 31 is issued. Therefore, the third Respondent ought to have considered the applications filed by the aforesaid three saw-mills for granting authorisations in Form No. 30 and issuing way-permits in Form No. 31. Accordingly Point No. 4 is answered in the negative and against the Respondents.

7.2 At this stage itself one more grievance of the petitioners may be noticed. It is the grievance of the petitioners that the applications filed by them for issue of authorisation in Form No. 30 and way-permits in Form No. 31 are not considered by the Forest Officer not below the rank of the Divisional Forest Officer within a reasonable time and as a result thereof they are put to great inconvenience inasmuch as in the absence of authorisation in Form No. 30 and way-permits in Form No. 31, it is not possible for them to transact the business. It is already pointed out that such authorisation and way-permits are necessary for the purpose of conducting their normal business by the saw-mill owners and the private depot owners for the sale of timber and other forest produce purchased by them from the Government timber yard or depot and private lands including coffee lands. It is incumbent upon the authority to consider the applications without any delay. It is appropriate that such applications must be disposed of within a period of two weeks so as to avoid unnecessary inconvenience being caused to the applicants.

POINT NO. 5 :

8. Form No. 30 is issued to the owner of any forest produce or his agent authorising him for a specified period not exceeding a year to issue way-permits in Form No. 31 on his registering his property mark under Rule 153 of the Rules. Thus, it follows that Form. No. 31 can be issued by only such person who is authorised in the authorisation issued in Form No. 30. It is not in dispute that the way-permits in Form No. 31 are issued by other persons other than those who have been named in Form No. 30 as the persons authorised to issue way-permits in Form No. 31. It is contended that wherever the authorisation is issued in the name of the partnership and one of the partners is named as the person authorised to issue way-permits, other partners of the firm who have not been named in the authorisation have issued the way-permits and such use of Form No. 31 does not amount to either improper or illegal use of the way-permits and it: is not opposed to the Rules. It is not possible to accept this contention. Form No. 32 is an application; for grant of authorisation to issue way-permits which has to, be filed under Sub-rule (2) of Rule 149 of the Rules. Form; No. 32 apart from containing the columns relating to the name and addresses of the applicant, name and address of; the owner of the forest produce and other particulars, it also requires the applicant to state the name of the person; or the agent to be authorised to issue way-permits. The authorisation issued in Form No. 30 authorising to issued way-permits also provides for mentioning of the name of the person who is authorised to issue way-permits in respect of the forest produce belonging to certain person. Therefore, it is clear that it is only such person who is authorise to issue way-permits alone can issue the way-permits even though the forest produce may belong to the partnership. If the applicant for grant of authorisation to issue way-permits intends to have the authorisation issued in the name of more than one person or in the case of partnership in the name of all the partners, it must be specifically mentioned in the application filed in Form No. 32 and the authorisation must be obtained in the name of all such persons. If the way-permits in Form No. 31 are issued by a person other than the one named in the authorisation even though he may, happen to be a partner of the firm nevertheless there will be contravention of Rule 149 of the Rules because it is issued by the person who is not authorised to issue. Of course, it may be noticed here that; such contravention by itself will not be sufficient to deprive a saw-mill owner for all time to come from the authorisation to issue way-permits in Form No. 31. It may also be noticed that such contravention is Compoundable under Section 79 of the Act. When once there is compounding of the offence it would be open to the authority to grant authorisation in Form No, 30 to issue Way-permits in Form No. 31. Accordingly, Point No. 5 is answered as follows :

Way permits in Form No. 31 cannot be issued by person/s other than those who have been specifically authorised to issue in the authorisations issued in Form No. 30.

9. For the reasons stated above, this Writ Petition is allowed in the following terms :

(i) The circular and notices issued as per Annexures-D, Hand F are hereby quashed.

(ii) Blank unused authenticated way-permits issued in Form No. 31 are not required to be returned during the period of their validity unless the same are required in connection with an enquiry or proceeding initiated against a saw-mill owner or a private depot owner for the alleged contravention of the provisions of the Act or the Rules or any other legal proceeding connected with the timber or other forest produce dealt by the saw-mill owner or a private depot owner.

(iii) Form No. 29 does not apply to saw-mill owners or private depot owners who purchase timber and other forest produce from the Government timber yard or depot and from private holdings including coffee lands and transport the same into their sawmill or private depot under Form No. 27 and 28.

(iv) In regard to the applications filed by New Bharat Saw Mill and Mysore Saw Mill at Tarikere and Shankar Saw Mill at Bhadravathi, for issue of authorisations in Form No. 30 and for issue of way permits in Form No. 31 for the year 1984-85, no direction need be issued since the year 1984-85 itself is coming to a close by the 31st of this month. However, if applications in Form No. 32 are filed by them for the year 1985-86, the third respondent shall consider and dispose of the same within two weeks from the date of receipt of such applications.

(v) Way permits in Form No. 31 cannot be issued by person/s other than those who has/have been specifically authorised to issue in the authorization issued in Form No. 30.

(vi) The applications for issue of authorisations or for renewal of authorisations in Form No. 30 or for re-issue of way permits, the concerned authority shall dispose of such applications within a period of two weeks.


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