S.K. Kader, J.
1. This is an appeal against acquittal. The respondent-accused herein were prosecuted for offences punishable under Sub-sections (2) (c) and (d) of Section 27 of the Kerala Forest Act for having trespassed upon the Chelakadavu Teak Plantation of Chungathara Forest Range and illicitly felled trees thereby causing a loss of Rs. 30/- to the Government. The incident was on Oct. 23, 1974.
2. In support of the prosecution case P. W. 1, Forest Guard and P. W. 2, Forester, were examined and Ex. PI mahazar said to have been prepared on the spot was marked.
3. The trial Court on a consideration of the evidence found that the accused have not been properly identified by Pws. 1 and 2 and that the prosecution failed to prove that the scene of offence which is a forest has been declared as a reserved forest by the issue of a notification under the Kerala Forest Act (Act 4 of 1962). On these findings the accused were acquitted.
4. The main ground of attack against the order of acquittal is that the trial Court seriously erred in holding that issue of a notification under Section 19 of the Kerala Forest Act was necessary to constitute a vested forest as a reserved forest. This attack by the Public Prosecutor is well founded. Under Section 3 (1) of the Kerala Private Forests (Vesting and Assignment) Act, 1971 (Act 26 of 1971), notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, or in any contract or other document, but subject to the provisions of Sub-sections (2) and (3), with effect on and from the appointed day, ownership and possession of all private forests in the State of Kerala shall, by virtue of this Act, stand transferred to and vested in the Government free from all encumbrances, and the right, title and interest of the owner or any other person in any private forest shall stand extinguished Section 4 of the same Act clearly states that all private forests vested in the Government under Sub-section (1) of Section 3 shall, so long as they remain vested in the Government, be deemed to be reserved forests constituted under the Kerala Forest Act, 1961 (Act 4 of 1962) and the provisions of that Act shall, so far as may be, apply to such private forests. Therefore, in the light of the deeming provision in Section 4 of. Act 26 of 1971, it is not necessary to issue a notification under Section 19 of the Kerala Forest Act (Act 4 of 1962) declaring a private forest vested in the Government under Sub-section (1) of Section 3 of Act 26 of 1971, as a reserved forest, so long as it remained vested in Government. There is the evidence of Pws. 1 and 2 coupled with Ex- PI mahazar which clearly show that the scene of offence was a forest vested in the government. The finding of the trial court also is to that effect and it was only on the ground that there was no notification issued under Section 19 of the Kerala Forest Act that the trial Court held that it was difficult to hold that the scene of occurrence was a reserved forest The acquittal of this ground is clearly wrong and cannot be sustained. But the learned advocate appearing for the accused contended that there is absolutely no satisfactory and reliable evidence to show that the accused were the persons who illicitly cut and removed trees as alleged. The accused are said to be strangers to Pws. 1 and 2 and even according to their admission, before they could reach the place of occurrence the accused ran away. The trial Court which had the opportunity to see and hear these witnesses, on a due consideration of their evidence, refused to act on their evidence on the point of identification. A perusal of the evidence of PWS- 1 and 2 indicates that they could not have properly identified the accused and in the circumstances, it is unsafe to act on their evidence in this regard.
This appeal therefore fails and is hereby dismissed.