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The State of Madras Represented by the Chief Secretary to the Government of Madras and ors. Vs. the Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation Ltd. Represented by Its Group Manager, Dr. K.T. Mathew - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1976)1MLJ433
AppellantThe State of Madras Represented by the Chief Secretary to the Government of Madras and ors.
RespondentThe Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation Ltd. Represented by Its Group Manager, Dr. K.T. Mathew
Excerpt:
- .....considers that g.o. ms. no. 948, revenue, dated 10th may, 1928 merely permitted the grantee to grow plantation crops and that condition no. (9) of b.p. press, 62, revenue, dated 30th june, 1928 was imposed, as making of money through the sale of the trees was not contemplated.so the board, issued, instructions to the collector to collect the seigniorage fees as the trees were sought to be cut and cleared for commercial purposes. this demand was quashed by ramaprasada. rao, j.3. the ratio of the order of the learned. judge entirely was based on the fact that the trees in question were not spontaneous growth, but planted by the assignee, which in the opinion of the learned judge, made a difference. in such a case, he would hold that no seigniorage fees could be levied. we are unable to.....
Judgment:

K. Veeraswami, C.J.

1. The appeal comes from an order of Ramaprasada Rao, J., allowing a petition to quash a demand made by the Collector of Coimbotore on 2nd April, 1970 on the respondent to pay seigniorage fees for transport of grevilla trees from the Kottur Village on the Anamalais, Coimbatore District. An extent of 5851 acres of land in Block Nos. 30, 31, 43 and 45 in that village was assigned to the respondent, the Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation Limited, by an order of Government dated 10th May, 1929 for cultivation of, plantation products. The assignment was subject to certain conditions specified. One of the conditions was that the land shall be used only for the cultivation of coffee, tea, cocoa, cinchona, cardamoms pepper, rubber or any other product that the Government may by special orders recognise as a plantation product, or for the erection of any buildings or constructing any roads thereon, which may be necessary for effecting and supervising such cultivation and preparing the produce for markets. It was also required by another condition that, where the forest was cleared, the assignee should plant plantation crops within, such reasonable time as might be fixed by the Collector of Coimbatore in each case. The Government reserved to themselves their right to a share in mines and quarries adjacent to the land and so also the right of ingress or egress for the purpose of working the mines. We have then a condition that the grantee shall not alienate the land without the sanction of the Government to a person other than a British subject or the subject of an Indian State. Then comes the following condition:

The grantee shall not export or sell the trees or timber which grow on the land.

There are other conditions too, but it is not necessary to refer to them for purposes of this appeal.

2. Grevilla trees were planted by the assignee for the purpose, as it is stated, of giving shade to the tea plantation. The assignee sought the permission of the Collector to cut and remove 20,000 grevilla trees measuring 10,00,000 cubic feet out of the trees so planted in the developed area. The seigniorage fees demanded by the Collector as a condition for the permission asked for amounted to Rs. 80,000. The intercession of the Board of Revenue was solicited by the assignee. It is said:

The Board considers that G.O. Ms. No. 948, Revenue, dated 10th May, 1928 merely permitted the grantee to grow plantation crops and that condition No. (9) of B.P. Press, 62, Revenue, dated 30th June, 1928 was imposed, as making of money through the sale of the trees was not contemplated.

So the Board, issued, instructions to the Collector to collect the seigniorage fees as the trees were sought to be cut and cleared for commercial purposes. This demand was quashed by Ramaprasada. Rao, J.

3. The ratio of the order of the learned. Judge entirely was based on the fact that the trees in question were not spontaneous growth, but planted by the assignee, which in the opinion of the learned Judge, made a difference. In such a case, he would hold that no seigniorage fees could be levied. We are unable to concur with this view of his on a construction of the terms of the assignment, particularly Clause 9 we have referred to. When a question of construction arises, not only is it tessential that the clause sought to be interpreted should be read and understood, having regard to the express language used, but also the process must involve, in deducing the proper meaning a reading of the entire grant. The purpose of the grant was to assign land for cultivation of coffee, tea, cocoa, cinchona pepper, rubber or any other product that the Government may be special orders recognise as a plantation product. It is clear therefore that, when anything different from the enumerated kinds of plantation is sought to be planted, previous permission of the Government is required. It is no good saying that the trees in question were planted for the purpose of giving shade to the tea plantation. Nobody would deny that such trees were required to be planted far the purpose of protecting the tea plantation. But on that ground we cannot read into the condition of the nrant that cultivation of coffee tea etc would also include plantation of shade trees, because the plantation of such trees can by no stretch of imagination be brought under the word 'cultivation'. We are not told that any such permission of the Government for planting such trees was obtained. Clause 7 reserves to the Government their right to a share in mines and quarries adjacent to the land. The implication of this clause is that what is part of the land had not been assigned. The next clause 8 makes it further clear that alienation of land without the sanction of the Government to a person other than a British subject or the subject of an Indian State is inhibited and a land normally carries with it trees standing on the land, irrespective of how they grow. The sense underlying this clause as also the purpose of the grant, namely, that the assignment was only to enable the grantee to cultivate plantations, should be borne in mind before approaching Clause 9, which is so clear that the inhibition there extends to all trees or timber 'which grow on the land'. It is said that the word 'grow' being intransitive, it would exclude planted trees. We are unable to agree 'Grow' is common to both spontaneous as well as planted trees. Undeniably both grow on land. Reading all these clauses together, we are of opinion that commercialising on trees or timber, which grow on the land and which the assignee seeks to out and carry away for commercial purposes, is not within the scope of the grant. On that view, we allow the appeal. No costs.


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