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M/S Bareilly Plywood Industries (P) Ltd. & Others v. State Of U.P. & Others - WRIT - C No. - 48931 of 2000  RD-AH 18388 (28 November 2007)
HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT ALLAHABAD
Civil Misc. Writ Petition No.48931 of 2000
M/s Bareilly Plywood Industries (P) Limited and others
The State of U.P. and others
Hon'ble Anjani Kumar, J.
Hon'ble Sabhajeet Yadav, J.
The petitioners, who are twelve in number, have prayed by means of this writ petition for the following reliefs :-
"(a) Issue appropriate writ, order or direction calling upon the respondents/forest officials and their representatives not to inforce the provision as contained in Rule of 1978 and in Chapter 7 of the Act of 1927 against the consignment of finished products referred to above as they have an identity separate and distinct from the 'timber' or 'wood' as defined under the Act or in various English dictioneries;
(b) Issue a writ, order or direction in the nature of mandamus declaring that the finished products of wood industry such as Veneer and Core and the likes thereof are not subject to the provisions of the Rule of 1978 and/or the provisions of the Act, 1927;
(c) Issue such other further suitable writ, order or directions deemed proper;
(d) Award costs to the petitioners."
From the prayers quoted above it is apparent that the petitioners have sought for a writ of mandamus from this Court commanding the respondents and their subordinates etc. not to invoke provisions of the U.P. Transit of Timber and other Forest Produce Rules, 1978 (hereinafter referred to as the 1978 Rules) in respect of movements of consignments of Block Boards, Ply Boards, Plywood, Veneer, Hard Board, Medium Density Fibre Board and the like.
The petitioners' case in short, as set up in the writ petition, is that the provisions of 1978 Rules cannot be invoked for the levy of transit fees for transit of aforesaid products, namely, Plywood, Veneer and core etc. as they are finished products of wood and timber and cannot be covered within the definition of forest produce as the same is neither timber nor the wood. So far as levy transit fees 1978 is concerned the levy has been upheld by a Division Bench of this Court and also by the Apex Court.
Learned counsel for the petitioner has advanced the argument that definition of forest produce as provided under the Act and Rules do not cover the aforesaid products therefore the petitioners cannot be subjected to the impugned transit fees while transporting their finished products within the limits of forest to outside the forest. A perusal of the scheme of 1978 Rules demonstrates that Rule 3 contains a prohibition on the movement of forest produce, from or within the State of U.P. without a transit pass to be issued by the competent officer of the Forest Department. Rule 21 of the Rules provides for the transit passes to be issued for consignments of forest produce which are being brought in the State from outside. The definition of the term 'Forest Produce' as given under Section 2(4) of the Forest Act clearly takes out the products which are being manufactured by the petitioners. Learned counsel for the petitioners has further submitted that the word 'timber' or 'forest produce' should be taken to its ordinary meaning and should not be stretched so as to embrace the finished products for which, though made out of wood or timber, the levy cannot be imposed. Learned counsel for the petitioner for that purpose has relied upon a decision of the Apex Court in the case of Suresh Lohiya vs. State of Maharashtra and another, (1996) 10 SCC 397. The petitioners have further made complaints but despite the finished goods manufactured by the petitioners are not amenable to the Rules yet the respondents and their subordinates have been insisting that the petitioners must pay transit fees when the consignments of the goods manufactured by the petitioners are transported to their customers. The petitioners further submit that the woods namely Veneer and core ceased to be a produce of the nature once they are used in the manufacturing process of plywood etc. and plywood etc. cannot be termed as forest produce.
Respondent-State has filed a counter affidavit denying the allegations made in the writ petition and submitted on behalf of the State that merely because forest produce is used by the petitioners in the manufacture of plywood etc. the same cannot be said to be lost its character as forest produce. Learned Standing Counsel has pointed out that under Section 2(c) of the Forest Control Order of 1971 the 'forest produce' is defined as under :-
"2(c). Forest produce means timber (including sawn timber, but not including its products firewood, charcoal, bamboo or grass."
Learned standing counsel therefore submitted that the only exception that can be carved out as per definition referred to above are firewood, charcoal, bamboo or grass. Since the petitioners' products do not conform to the aforesaid exception under the definition of Section 2 (c) referred to above, the petitioners are subjected to compliance of provisions of 1978 Rules. Learned Standing Counsel further relied upon the provision of Section 2(6) which clearly provides that after hollow up process the nature and definition of timber will not be changed therefore, if round timber is hollowed up by pilling process and is changed into Veneer/Core, the same will also come under the definition of timber. Therefore, it cannot be argued on behalf of the petitioner that it goes out of definition of Forest Produce as enumerated under Section 2(c) of the Act.
So far as regulatory nature of 1978 Rules is concerned, learned counsel for the petitioner has fairly conceded that since the levy has been upheld it is not open to the petitioners to argue regarding validity of 1978 Rules.
We have given our considered thought to the arguments on behalf of the petitioners as well as learned standing counsel and we are of the opinion that the definition of the Forest Produce read with process as defined under Section 2 (c) and going through the entire scheme of the Act and Rules the arguments advanced on behalf of the petitioners cannot be accepted. In these circumstances the contention of the petitioners, that the products manufactured by the petitioners, namely, plywood, veneer etc. loses its character as timber or wood once they undergo mechanical and industrial process and cannot be subjected to levy under 1978 Rules, is rejected. The view that we are taking is supported by a decision of a Division Bench of this Court in the case of M/s Bawa Sweet Glass Works Kanpur vs. Union of India and others, Writ Petition No.36487 of 1998 decided on 11th May 2007.
In view of what has been stated above this writ petition has no force and is accordingly dismissed.
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