1. The appellant sued to recover the amount of Rs. 1,499 with interest, etc., the principal sum having been as he alleged, paid to the Government under coercion. The lower Courts have dismissed his suit and he appeals against that dismissal.
1. The circumstances in which the levy was made are, that the appellant imported a large quantity of timber into this Presidency by floating it down the Godavari from the Central Provinces. He did this under a pass given by the Central Provinces Forest Department on the 12th January 1915 which expired on 12th January 1916. He entered Madras territory on the 18th December 1915, but the pass had expired before he reached the checking station at Polavaram on the 6th June 1916. At Polavaram penalty and the value of the timber were collected from him under Section 55 of the Madras Forests Act inasmuch as he was suspected of having committed an offence under Section 36 by infringing the rules framed by the Madras Government under Section 35. These rules provide that timber Shall net be transported on the Godavari river without a pass, and Rule 2 states explicitly that, ' if the permit is defective or time expired, the timber will be liable to seizure and detention and the holder of the permit to prosecution under Rule 9.' It is not argued that these rules are in any respect ultra vires. The plaintiff relies mainly on the tact that, when his timber was stopped at Polavaram, money being demanded and paid on the 11th June 1916, he had already, on the 8th June 1916, applied by telegram to the Central Provinces Poorest Department for an extension and he obtained that extension on 22nd June 1916. His main contention is that, as this extension was given, he had really been transporting this timber throughout under a valid permit.
3. We have, then, first to decide whether an extension such as this given by a Foreign Government for the transport of timber, which was at the time of the issue of the permit actually in the British territory, can have any legal effect. Clearly, in ordinary circumstances, a Foreign Government cannot have any control in such matters as this in British territory. But it is contended that the Central Provinces Government had a power of special control over the transport of timber by virtue of the rules which have been issued and though has not been proved, we are ready to accept what is not disputed, that those rules were issued with the consent of the Government of Madras. The rules are to be found in paragraph 120, at page 136, of the Central Provinces Forest Manual. Rule 3 provides for the issue of the passes, which must state, inter alia, the route through which the produce is to pass, the place of destination of the produce, and the period for which the pass shall remain in force after the specified period. Rule 7 states that the passes may be issued in triplicate of which the first part shall be retained by the Issuing Officer, the second part shall be retained by the owner of the produce, and the third part shall be despatched to the officer in charge of the timber checking station at Polavaram, Madras territory, for the purpose of check on arrival of the produce. Then under Rule 10, 'no pass issued under the Rules shall cover any forest produce beyond the Madras Revenue Station of Polavaram for the exchange of this-pass for the way-permit prescribed by the rules under Sections 35 and 36 of the Madras Forest Act, nor shall it be valid for a longer period thin two years'. It does not seem to us that these Rules in any way help the suggestion that the Central Provinces Government can grant passes to authorise the transit of timber which is already in the Madras territory. Some, reliance was placed on the fact that the plaintiff obtained a renewal of the pass and on a reference in the lower Court's judgment to an admission by the defendant Government that extensions of time given before the expiry of the time specified of the permit have been recognised in some cases in the past. But the extensions of time given before the expiration of the permit would naturally stand on an entirely different footing from those which are given when the permit is defunct. Some suggestion was made that there can be no question of the Central Provinces permits becoming defunct, because there is no reference to such permit being time expired in the rules. But in the Madras rules regulating the transit of timber on the Godavari River, dated nth October 1913, there is an explicit statement in the first portion of Rule 2 which has already been quoted, and we cannot accept the argument that the first portion is cancelled as regards the timber entering into the District from the Central Provinces by the second portion thereof. For it is quite possible to read the two portions as dealing with different matters.
4. The next contention is, that it was not open to the Madras Government to treat the timber as transported without a valid permit until after it had reached Polavaram. That rests on the fact that there was no check of the timber with reference to permit until it had reached Polavaram and that it was only after Polavaram that, the Central Provinces, permit would have to be exchanged for the Madras permit. It is not possible to understand how this can affect the expiration of the period for which the Central Provinces permit was given, or the consequent expiration of the permit itself. The permit stated that it was only for one year. It might, no doubt, have been granted for two years, but that was not done; and we cannot treat it as granted for a longer period than is actually specified in it nor is it possible to treat t as having been extended in some constructive way beyond that period by the fact that no check, would be placed upon the timber in transit and that the detection of the invalidity of the permit would not take place until Polavaram was reached. This contention also fails.
5. The appellant has relied next on two arguments of a different character. He firstly contends that this money was paid by him, not under Section 55 of the Forest Act at all, but simply under coercion and, so far as we can understand him without its having been made out distinctly on what account it was demanded looking at the pleadings, we find the payment referred to throughout the plaint as penalty, and there is no reason for supposing that the appellant or any one else concerned in the timber trade was not fully aware of the composition procedure authorised under Section 55 of this Act. The plea was taken most indistinctly in this Court. There is in fact, reference to it only in paragraph 14 of the plaint as follows: 'Under Rule 2 of the above rulers the Checking Officer is empowered to effect a seizure and detention only in view of a prosecution under Rule 9.' There is no statement that the appellant did not know on what account the demand was made of him there is no statement that he knew nothing about the prosecution, there is no statement that it was not paid on account of the prosecution. It may be added that the appellant himself has not given evidence. In these circumstances, we do not think it necessary to deal further with a presumption which is based on an allegation that the appellant misunderstood what took place.
6. The next argument is, that no demand could have been made on the appellant for more than Rs. 200 with reference to Rule 9 of the Madras Rules already referred to and Section 36 of the Forest Act. The answer is that, under Section 55, it is open to the Forest Officer not only to collect the compensation for the offence on account of the prosecution but also to collect the value of the timber concerned, which he would be entitled to detain and which would be liable td confiscation in case the prosecution succeeded. Levy is no doubt described in Exhibit C. as seigniorage; but the rules which have been produced in this Court show that the penalty is calculated similarly to seigniorage charges. A reference to seigniorage in Exhibit C, which has been relied on, does not justify this argument.
7. The petition fails and is dismissed with costs.