R.S. Pathak, C.J.
1. We have heard the learned Advocate General in this and the connected appeals.
2. Two common questions have been raised in all the nine appeals. One is that the learned single Judge has misread the evidence on the record and therefore has erroneously come to the finding that the timber was not samuda. It seems to us that the question really fell for determination within the powers of the Arbitrator. Whether or not the, timber was samuda was a point for him to decide on the merits. But apart from this, even if we assume that the learned single Judge was right in himself considering the point, we are not satisfied that his finding is vitiated by any error in considering the evidence. We have been taken through the evidence by the learned Advocate General, and taking it in its entirety the finding reached by the learned single Judge appears to be justified.
3. The other question is whether the finding of the learned single Judge is right that the Arbitrator did not commit any misconduct when he proceeded to Pathankot for the purpose of inspecting the timber. The learned Advocate General says that the misconduct consisted in the Arbitrator not informing the parties that he would go to Pathankot for that purpose. A perusal of the evidence on the record shows that the Arbitrator made a statement in the presence of the parties that he would go to Pathankot to inspect the timber. There is nothing to show that any party expressed a desire to be present at the time of the inspection. There was nothing to prevent the parties from being present when the inspection took place. Had any of them intended to be present on the occasion, they could easily have ascertained from the Arbitrator the date, time and place when the inspection would be taken. It does not appear that any objection on this score was raised by any of the parties when the Arbitrator returned from Pathankot and disclosed the result of his inspection. Reliance is placed on the agreement Ex. D. W. 2 which requires the Arbitrator to notify the dates of hearing to the parties, but in view of what we have said above this term of the agreement affords no assistance to the appellant.
4. In four of the nine appeals the learned Advocate General has questioned the finding of the learned single Judge on the validity of the appointment of Shri Bachan Singh, Chief Conservator of Forests, as Arbitrator. It is urged that the view taken by the learned single Judge that an oral authorisation or direction can be contemplated within the scope of Article 299 (1) of the Constitution is erroneous. The arbitration agreement appointing Shri Bachan Singh was executed by Shri S. S. Chahal, Conservator of Forests, and the learned single Judge has held that Shri Chahal was directed or authorised orally to do so, and that an oral direction or authorisation could be envisaged within Article 299 (1). The learned Advocate General contends that Article 299 (1) is mandatory, and he has placed a number of decisions of the Supreme Court before us in support of that proposition. To our mind, there can be no dispute with that proposition. But the Supreme Court has not laid down, so far as we can see that the direction or authorisation contemplated by Article 299 (1) must be in writing. The mere Circumstance that the action taken under Article 299 (1) is mandatory does not necessarily imply that the direction or authorisation has to be in writing. Reference has also been made to Article 166 (2) of the Constitution, but all that is contemplated there is that orders and instruments made and executed in the name of the Governor shall be authenticated. It may be true that all contracts referred to in Article 299 (1) have to be in writing, but it does not mean that the direction or authorisation to an officer to execute the contract must also necessarily be in writing. It is urged by the learned Advocate General that an oral direction or authorisation cannot be issued so as to vary the terms of the notification issued by the Law Department of the State Government stating that if the amount or value of the contract relating to a matter connected with the administration of forests and the business of the Forest Department does not exceed rupees one lac then the contract may be executed by the Conservator of Forests, but if the amount or value exceeds rupees one lac but not rupees two lacs the officer authorised is the Chief Conservator of Forests. The learned single Judge has found that Shri Bachan Singh was appointed Arbitrator directly by the Government itself, and the finding appears to be fully supported by the evidence on the record. That being so, the contention raised by the learned Advocate General loses its point. It has also been urged that the direction or authorisation could proceed from the Law Secretary alone, as he was the officer authorised to issue directions or authorisations in regard to forest administration and forest business. We have not been shown any material in support of that submission. In the circumstances, we are unable to find any error in the finding of the learned single Judge with regard to the appointment of Shri Bachan Singh as Arbitrator.
5. This and the connected appeals are dismissed in limine.