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State of Karnataka and ors. Vs. Mrs. Elizabeth Mayne and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtSupreme Court of India
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Appeal Nos. 1867-1924 and 1952 of 1975 and 9 to 66 of 1976
Judge
Reported inAIR1976SC1651; (1976)3SCC418; [1976]3SCR1088; 1976(8)LC497(SC)
ActsCoorg Land and Revenue Regulation, 1899; Karnataka Land Revenue Act, 1964 - Sections 75 and 202; Karnataka Forest Rules, 1969 - Rule 137
AppellantState of Karnataka and ors.
RespondentMrs. Elizabeth Mayne and ors.
Appellant Advocate L.N. Sinha,; K.S. Puttaswamy,; B.R. G.K. Achar,;
Respondent Advocate L.N. Sinha, ; Sol. General,S.G. Sundaraswamy, ; K.S. Gourishan
Prior historyFrom the Judgments and orders dated the 18-4-75, 28-4-75 and 27-5-75 of the Mysore (Karnataka) High Court in Writ Appeal Nos. 1034-1039/74 and 116 to 143/75, 951-74, 922-923/74, 32/75, 1035 of 1974 and 976 to 1033/74 respectively
Excerpt:
property - vested interest - rule 97 of coorg land and revenue regulation, 1899 and sections 75 and 202 of karnataka land revenue act, 1964 - respondent claimed vested right to redeem trees on 'bane' lands on payment of 50 percent of value of timber under regulation of 1899 - rule 97 conferred right on holder of 'bane' lands to redeem trees standing on such 'bane' lands - section 202 did not affect right acquired by holders of 'bane' lands - held, respondents entitled to remove trees from 'bane' land in question. - .....the respondents were the petitioners in the high court. the respondents are either holders of bane lands in the district of coorg or holders of such lands who purchased timber standing on them from such holders. the respondents in the high court asked for writ directing the divisional forest officer of the state to issue permits to the respondents to remove trees standing on bane lands as particularised in the petition.3. the divisional forest officer refused permits to the respondents to cut trees and remove timber. the two grounds on which the respondents challenged the order of refusal are these. first, the respondents claimed a vested right to redeem the tree on bane lands on payment of 50 per cent of the value of timber under coorg land and revenue regulation of 1889 and the.....
Judgment:

A.N. Ray, C.J.

1. These appeals are by certificate from the judgment dated 18 April, 1975 of the High Court of Karnataka.

2. The respondents were the petitioners in the High Court. The respondents are either holders of Bane lands in the District of Coorg or holders of such lands who purchased timber standing on them from such holders. The respondents in the High Court asked for writ directing the Divisional Forest Officer of the State to issue permits to the respondents to remove trees standing on Bane lands as particularised in the petition.

3. The Divisional Forest Officer refused permits to the respondents to cut trees and remove timber. The two grounds on which the respondents challenged the order of refusal are these. First, the respondents claimed a vested right to redeem the tree on Bane lands on payment of 50 per cent of the value of timber under Coorg Land and Revenue Regulation of 1889 and the rules framed thereunder Second, the respondents claimed that, by Section 75 of the Karnataka Land Revenue Act, 1964, an absolute right was conferred on them in respect of trees on Bane lands and the Government have no right even to demand 50 per cent of the value.

4. The learned Single Judge referred to the provisions of Coorg Land and Revenue Regulation of 1899 and in particular Rule 97 thereof. The learned Single Judge came to the conclusion that rules conferred a right on the holders of Bane land to redeem the trees standing on such Bane tends. He also held that under the rules, the respondents were required to pay 50 per cent of the value of the timber to the State along with other incidental charges. The contention of the State that the Coorg Land and Revenue Regulation, 1899 was repealed and, therefore, the respondents had no right under those Regulations to remove timber was repelled by the learned Singh Judge. The learned Judge held that Section 202 of the Karnataka Land Revenue Act of 1964 did not affect the right acquired by the holders of Bane Lands in spite of repeal of the Coorg land and Revenue Regulation of 1899. In this view of the matter, the learned Single Judge did not consider it necessary to rxpres9 any opinion on the second contention of the respondents whether under Section 75 of the Karnataka Land Revenue Act of 1964, the State had no right to demand 50 per cent of the value.

5. The Division Bench on appeal held that the respondents could be divided into two categories. As to the first category, the Division Bench in Sub-paragraph (1) of paragraph 59iof the judgment said that those who deposited before 15 January, 1974, 50 per cent of the value of timber as determined by the Divisional Forest Officer, could be granted permits to cut and remove timber. If there was any difference between the 50 per cent of the actual value of timber and the amount paid on the basis of determination by the Divisional Forest Officer, the Divisional Forest Officer, would recover the difference as mentioned in the said paragraph 59(1).

6. In Sub-paragraph (2) of paragraph 59, the Division Bench dealt with respondents who did not fall within category I, but made applications before 15 January, 1974, The Solicitor General appearing for the State with his usual fairness said that he did not want to take up time of the Court in going in to the merits pf the appeals. He accepted the conclusions of the High Court in paragraph 59 of the judgment. The result is that the conclusions of the High Court in paragraph 59 are affirmed.

7. The matter, however, does not end there because counsel for the respondents submitted that the Division Bench went into the nature and tenure of Bane lands and expressed views which are not correct and which in any event were not necessary for the purpose of the present care.

8. The learned Single Judge rightly did not express any view on the second question as to whether the Bane land holders could ask for removal of trees without payment of full value. The Division Bench, however, in paragraphs 16 and 20 dealt with the legal position of Bane lands prior to 1 November, 1899, in paragraph 30 on the legal position between 1 November 1899 and 1 April 1964 and in paragraphs 36 and 43 on the legal position after 1 April 1964. The Division Bench of the High Court in paragraph 17 and 19 of the judgment dealt with Bane and Kumki lands and equated the same. It may be stated here that one of the respondents-Consolidated Coffee Ltd., also filed an appeal from the judgment of the High Court. The Solicitor General contended that the Consolidated Coffee Ltd. was not competent to file an appeal became the company had obtained relief and could not, therefore, attack the judgment.

9. Having heard the Solicitor General and counsel for the respondents, we are of opinion that the course adopted by the learned Single Judge was correct. The Division Bench of the High Court need not have gone into the question on the nature and tenure of Bane lands and expressed opinion on rights of the parties. These observations were not necessary. We, therefore, hold that we affirm the conclusions of the Division Bench of the High Court as stated in paragraph 59 of the judgment (and make it clear that the observations and opinions expressed by the Division Bench on the nature and tenure of Bane lands and rights of the parties will not bind the parties on these questions in future. It will be open to both parties, namely, the appellants and respondents to urge their rival contentions on these questions if in future there will be any dispute the parties.

10. The directions given by the Division Bench in paragraph 59 of shift judgment will be followed by the parties. The directions are explicable because of 15 January 1974 being taken as the dividing line with regard to net-sons who made payment and persons, who did not make payment consequent upon the repeal of Rule 137 of the Karnataka Forest Rule, 1969.

11. The appeals are dismissed. Parties will pay and bear their costs.


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