BHARGAVA J. - The question referred for our opinion is :
'Whether in the circumstances of this case, the fact that forestry operations of kind and nature referred to in paragraph 5 above were conducted by the assessee, is sufficient to make the income from the sale of standing sal trees which were cut and sold and about the planting and growth of which there is no evidence agricultural income within the meaning of section 2(1) of the Income-tax Act ?'
In paragraph 5 of the statement of the case it was mentioned by the Tribunal that there was no evidence that the sal trees in question were the result of any planting of seeds or saplings and consequently the Tribunal drew the inference that they were trees of spontaneous growth. This inference was also based on the common knowledge that sal trees all over the country normally grow up spontaneously. The main operations which the assessee was found to be performing for earning the income from the trees were to cut the trees at a height of 6 inches above ground level and to confine the felling of trees to those trees which had a girth of 3' or more at the same height as its girth. There was also thinning out of the shoots where necessary so as to enable the proper growth of fresh shoots coming out of the stumps left after the cutting of the trees. Steps were also taken for protecting the younger plants from damage from cattle or fire. It is clear that none of these operations included any expenditure of skill or labour on the land itself. All the skill and labour was employed after the produce had sprouted from the soil and there was no operation of the nature of cultivation on the forest land itself. In such a case the income from sale of trees cannot be agricultural income. This point clearly follows from the decision of this court in Pratap Singh Balbeer Singh v. Commissioner of Income-tax, and from the decisions of the Supreme Court in Commissioner of Income-tax v. Raja Benoy Kumar Sahas Roy and Commissioner of Income-tax v. Jyotikana Chowdhurani. In view of these decisions the question referred to us is answered in the negative. The assessee will pay the costs of the department which we fix at Rs. 200 as representing fee of learned counsel for the department.
Question answered in the negative.