R.S. Pathak, C.J.
1. Section 216-A of the Himachal Pradesh Municipal Act, 1968, as amended by the Himachal Pradesh Act No. 19 of 1968, provides that no person shall fell any tree within the jurisdiction of the Municipal Corporation, Simla except under a permit obtained from the prescribed authority in the prescribed manner. Sub-section (2) reads:
'(2) No application for grant of permit for felling of tree shall be entertained unless it is accompanied by a fee of Rs. 5 which amount shall be utilized for fresh plantation.'
2. The petitioner applied to the Executive Officer of the Municipal Corporation, Simla for a permit to enable him to fell ten trees so that he could construct a godown. The application was accompanied by a fee of Rs. 5. The Executive Officer informed the petitioner that a total fee of Rs. 50 was payable with the application and therefore he should pay the balance of Rs. 45. Aggrieved by this demand, the petitioner now applies under Article 226 of the Constitution for relief.
3. The contention of the petitioner is that on a proper construction of Section 216-A (2) of the Himachal Pradesh Municipal Act the Executive Officer is entitled to demand a fee of Rs. 5 only with the application and not any greater sum. It is contended that the statute requires a fee of Rs. 5 per application irrespective of the number of trees covered by the application, and not a fee of Rs. 5 for each tree sought to be felled. We have considered the contention, and in our opinion it has no force. A perusal of Section 216-A clearly indicates that what is contemplated is permission in relation to each individual tree. The Municipal Corporation has to consider whether one orsome or all of the trees should be allowed to be felled. It must apply its mind to the particular location of each individual tree and the consequences following from its being felled, and either grant or refuse permission in respect of each individual tree. It is not contemplated that an application for permission to fell a number of trees should be disposed of by a cumulative consideration of all the trees. It is also significant that Section 216-A (2) implies a statutory obligation on the Municipal Corporation to plant a fresh tree for each tree allowed to be felled, and to enable it to do that a fee of Rs. 5 has been imposed. It cannot be supposed that if an application for a permit to fell 500 trees is made a fee of Rs. 5 will suffice for the purpose of freshly planting 500 trees to replace those felled. Further indication is provided in Section 216-A (3), which declares that the cutting or destroying of each single tree in breach of the provisions of Section 216-A shall be regarded as a distinct and separate offence. Upon the aforesaid considerations, we are of opinion that the fee of Rs. 5 must be regarded as an application-fee in respect of each individual tree. It may be observed that by way of convenience one application may be entertained for the felling of more than one tree, but in law that application will be considered as consisting of as many applications as the number of trees sought to be felled. Our attention has been drawn to R. 5 of the Himachal Pradesh Municipal (Prevention of Soil Erosion and Hill Side Safety) Rules, 1975, which requires that an application for permission 'for felling of tree' shall be accompanied by a fee of Rs. 5. The rule must be construed in line with the intention of Section 216-A (2), and so construed it must mean that an application for permission for felling each tree shall be accompanied by a fee of Rs. 5.
4. We hold that the writ petition has no force. It is rejected.