Taluk Land Board’s Determination Has Evidentiary Value In Proceedings Under Kerala Private Forest Vesting Act: Supreme Court

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Taluk Land Board’s Determination Has Evidentiary Value In Proceedings Under Kerala Private Forest Vesting Act

Coram: Justices Indira Banerjee and SR Bhat

Case No.: Civil Appeal No. 903 Of 2011

Court Observation: “The title deeds of the predecessor-in-interest of the partners of the Popular Estates who had acquired the lands in 1963, show that large areas were shown as cardamon plantation. Popular Estates had filed agricultural income returns and even in 1970, it was producing coffee, rubber and cardamom. The fact that it had some labour trouble also supported its contention that Popular Estates’ plantation activities were on in full scale. All these materials, in the opinion of the court, support the conclusions of the High Court, which are based on plausible (and not an unreasonable) inference of the overall analysis of the evidence on the record.”

“A combined reading of these materials, leads one to infer that a detailed inspection of the area took place. Only those areas that vested with the government were demarcated by the survey party, attached with the Superintendent, Land Records. It was in these circumstances that the respondent successfully urged before the High Court that what was demarcated was only 100 hectares and the others were not demarcated since they were cultivated. This was borne out by Ex. A-7, the final report. The possession with respect to 100 hectares of uncultivated forest lands was also covered by a draft statement of land (Ex. A- 50, dated 24.01.1979) furnished to the Board in proceedings under the KLR Act. Ex. A-50 was the foundation for the Board’s order dated 04.11.1980 (Ex. A-51). Both these documents confirmed that 100 hectares was vested forest. Popular Estates had submitted that 533 acres was under cardamom cultivation; 120 acres under rubber plantation; 257 acres under coffee plantation and that 155.9 acres was forest land; and 17.5 acres of were comprised of roads and buildings. These arguments found favour with the High Court. In our considered opinion, there is no glaring error in the impugned judgment, having regard to these circumstances.”

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Taluk Land Board’s, Kerala Private Forest Vesting Act