K.L. Pandey, J.
1. This appeal by the defendant is directed against the reversing decree of the lower appeal Court for rendition of account of an unregistered and dissolved partnership.
2. The Forest Department gave to one Dhannalal a forest contract for cutting and taking away in the year 1955 roosa grass from the Jogibeda circle of Singhaji Range in Nimar District. That grass is used for extracting roosa oil which is a valued commercial commodity. The plaintiff alleged that he entered into a partnership with the defendant for the purpose of cutting roosa grass from the aforesaid Jogibeda circle and extracting roosa oil therefrom, acquired the contract from Dhannalal and actually worked it in partnership but the defendant, in disregard of the terms of partnership, sold away the oil extracted without the plaintiff's consent and did not render account. The defendant denied that he entered into any partnership with the plaintiff and claimed that he worked the forest contract merely as agent of Dhannalal.
3. In this appeal against the reversing judgment of the lower appeal Court, only two points have been pressed. One is that Ex. P-4, a letter written by Nana P.W. 2 to the plaintiff, was inadmissible in evidence and was wrongly relied upon as supporting the existence of the partnership. The other is that since the object of the partnership was to work the forest contract in contravention of the Rules made under the Forest Act, it was void.
4. On the first point relating to relevancy, it would, I think, be sufficient to point out that Nana P.W. 2 was the defendant's agent and Ex. P-4 was a statement accompanying and explaining his con-duet. That being so, it is relevant under Section 8 of the Evidence Act.
5. The second point is that the contract of partnership was void, because its object was to work the forest contract in favour of Dhannalal who had assigned it to the plaintiff and the defendant in contravention of the following rule framed under the Indian Forest Act, 1878 ;
'Rule 33 (1). All forest produce removed from a contract area in accordance with these rules and duly checked and passed at the depots established under Rule 13, shall be at the absolute disposal of the forest contractor.
2. A forest contractor may assign any forest produce not so removed, but such assignment shall not be valid unless it is made with the previous sanction in writing of the forest officer who executed the contract, who shall have power to refuse sanction if, in his opinion, the assignment is likely to be prejudicial to the interests of the Government or to the public revenues.'
AS the Rule itself shows, an assignment of any forest contract is not absolutely prohibited and cannot, for that reason, be regarded as void. According to the Rule, such assignment is permissible though with the previous sanction in writing of the appropriate Forest Officer. That being so, the analogy of the Rules framed under the Central Provinces Excise Act, which have for their object the regulation of liquor traffic in the interests of the general public, is not applicable.
The restriction mentioned in Rule 33 ibid appears to have been imposed purely for administrative purposes. An assignment in disregard of this restriction may not bind the Forest Authorities, who may refuse to recognise it. But a contract made by third persons to work the rights assigned to them, though in disregard of the aforesaid Rule, binds them and it is not invalid so as to be void under Section 23 of the Contract Act.
This view finds support in Nazaralli Sayad Imam v. Babamiya Dureyatimsha, ILR 40 Bom 64 : (AIR 1915 Bom 244), Abdullah v. Allah Diya, ILR 8 Lah 310 : (AIR 1927 Lah 333), Venkatanandam v. Dhanaraju, AIR 1929 Mad 689 and Sk. Umar v. Shivdansingh, AIR 1958 Madh Era 88. It may be mentioned here that the facts in these cases were similar to those present in this case. The learned counsel for the defendant relied upon certain decided cases which did not deal with forest contracts. It is sufficient to say that for this reason alone those authorities are distinguishable. In the view that I have taken of this case, even the second point is of no assistance.
6. The result is that the appeal fails and is dismissed. The defendant shall bear his own costs and pay those of the plaintiff throughout. Counsel's fee here according to schedule.