Chh HC | Whether a forest land can be allotted/leased without prior approval of Central Government under S. 2 (iii) of Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980? 

Chhattisgarh High Court: Sanjay K Agrawal J.,  dismissed the second appeal being devoid of merits.

The facts of the case are such that the first appellate court held that the suit land was ‘Chhote Jhad Ka Jungle’/forest land which has been given in patta to the plaintiff, which was revoked by the Collector in Revision. Being aggrieved present second appeal was filed.

Counsel for the appellant submitted that the first appellate Court was absolutely wrong in reversing the judgment and decree passed by the trial Court.

Section 2 (iii) of the Act, 1980 reads as under:-

2. Restriction on the dereservation of forests or use of forest land for non-forest purpose.-Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force in a State, no State Government or other authority shall make, except with the prior approval of the Central Government, any order directing.-

(i) xxx xxx xxx

(ii) xxx xxx xxx

(iii) that any forest land or any portion thereof may be assigned by way of lease or otherwise to any private person or to any authority, corporation, agency or any other organization not owned, managed or controlled by Government.

(iv) xxx xxx xxx…”

The Court relied on judgment T.N. Godavarman Thirumulkpad v. Union of India, (1997) 2 SCC 267 and B.S. Sandhu v. Government of India, (2014) 12 SCC 172 and observed that keeping in view the provisions contained in Section 2 of the Act of 1980, and that the land is forest land and that the suit land is forest land “Chhote Jhad Ka Jungle” within the meaning of Section 2(iii) of the Act of 1980, this Court is of the considered opinion that no allotment/lease could have been made by the State Government without obtaining prior permission from the Central Government to the plaintiff. Since the land is ‘Chhote Jhad Ka Jungle’ and it was leased out without prior approval of the Central Government under Section 2(iii) of the Act of 1980.

The Court thus held

“in the light of the above legal position, it is quite vivid that the land in question i.e. Chhote Jhad Ka Jungle was allotted to the plaintiff by the Naib Tahsildar which was revoked by Collector on 23.12.2002 in revision. In the suit filed for declaration of permanent injunction even the order dated 23.12.2002 passed by the revisional authority was not challenged. In that view of the matter, the first appellate Court has rightly held that Chhote Jhad Ka Jungle’ /suit land could not have been allotted to the plaintiff and it has been rightly cancelled by the Collector in revision which has not been called in question.”

In view of the above, the appeal was dismissed.[Budheshwar Singh v. Krishna Pratap Singh, 2021 SCC OnLine Chh 188, decided on 29-01-2021]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

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