IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT MADRAS DATED : 28.01.2010 CORAM THE HONOURABLE Mr. JUSTICE M. VENUGOPAL W.P.No. 1041 of 2003 Solai Senthilvel, President, Allur Panchayat, Kalayarkoil Panchayat Union, Sivaganga District. ... Petitioner Vs 1.State of Tamil Nadu represented by its Secretary, Forest Department, Fort St. George, Chennai 600 009. 2.The District Collector, Sivaganga, Sivaganga District. 3.The District Forest Officer, Ramanathapuram Division, Karaikudi. 4.The Tamil Nadu Forest Plantation Corporation Limited, by its Regional Manager, Karaikudi. ... Respondents PRAYER: Petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India for a writ of Mandamus, forbearing the Regional Manager, Tamil Nadu Forest Plantation Corporation Limited, Karaikudi, his men, agents, or servants or any one claiming through him from in any way interfering with the right of use of channels in S.F.No.10, Pirandaikulam Group Village No.60, Sivaganga Taluk. For Petitioner : Mr.A.V.Arun For Respondents : Mr.S.M.Kirbanandam, Special Government Pleader (Forest) for R1, R3 and R4. Mr.Senthilkumar, Additional Government Pleader (Writ) for R2 ORDER
The petitioner, in his capacity as elected President of Allur Panchayat, Kalayarkoil Panchayat Union, Sivaganga District has projected this writ of mandamus before this Court, praying for a issuance of a direction in forbearing the fourth respondent/Tamil Nadu Forest Plantation Corporation Limited, Karaikudi, his men, agents, or servants or any one claiming through him from in any way interfering with the right of use of channels (path way) in S.F.No.10, Pirandaikulam Group Village No.60, Sivaganga Taluk.
2.The land in question in S.F.No.10, Pirandaikulam Group Village No.60, Sivaganga Taluk has been classified as Reserved Forest Area as per the G.O.Ms.No.653, Forest and Fisheries Department, dated 22.07.1979, under Section 16 of the Tamil Nadu Forests Act, 1882. The said land is lying perpendicular to the main road leading to Tondi from Sivaganga and the same has been used as the only path way for the villagers from Veerani, Allur, Panangadi, Kuyavanadappu, Muthupattinam, Suravathi and Assinagar Villages.
3.The stand of the petitioner is that the villagers have been utilising the said path way for nearly hundred years to approach the main road connecting Tondi and Sivaganga and when the first respondent classified the S.F.No.10 land as Reserved Forest, as per Section 16 of the Tamil Nadu Forest Act, 1882, then, the right has been conferred on the villagers to use the channels as path way. Also, the right of maintaining the channels has been given to the Village Headman of Pirandaikulam subject to the conditions of obtaining prior permission from the Forest Department for making an entry into Reserved Forest on behalf of the village community.
4.Though the petitioner in his writ petition has claimed that the right of way has been granted to the Villagers as per Section 11 of the Tamil Nadu Forest Act, 1882 and therefore, a statutory right has been granted to the villagers by the Government as per the Section 16 of the Act, the learned counsel for the petitioner informs this Court that he is now claiming the right of using the path way for the villagers as per the permission granted by the third respondent/ Ramanathapuram and Sivaganga District Forest Officer’s proceedings in Na.Ka.No.4968/2002/va, dated 23.10.2002 and the same has also been granted to the villagers by the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Chennai-15 as per his proceedings in Ref.No.64132/03/TS4, dated 26.07.2004, wherein permission has been granted ‘with usual conditions in force to utilise the existing Jeep track in the Pirandaikulam North R.F. without any change in the existing stage of the jeep track.’ Moreover, the Regional Conservator of Forests of Virudhunagar in its proceedings in Na.Ka.No.2446/2003/Va, dated 06.08.2004, has also granted permission to the villagers in their interest to use the jeep track in present condition without bringing about any change of the existing stage of the track etc. Added further, the third respondent/Ramanathapuram and Sivaganga District Forest Officer in his proceedings in Na.Ka.No.2624/2003/va, dated 27.09.2004, has also accorded permission to the villagers to use the jeep track without any change in measurement and also without any change to be brought about in the existing change of the track.
5.On a careful consideration of the entire facts and circumstances of the case and on perusal of the proceedings of the authorities concerned, it is quite evident that the villagers of Allur, Veerani, Panangadi have been permitted to use the jeep track subject to the conditions specified by the authorities in their proceedings referred to supra and therefore, the villagers of Allur, Veerani, Panangadi are permitted to use the jeep track in S.F.No.10, Pirandaikulam Group Village No.60, Sivaganga Taluk in the considered opinion of this Court and they are directed not to make any alteration, change, modification or variation or to bring about any change in the existing status of the jeep track and it is open to the Forest Authorities to carry out such periodical inspections in the said jeep track and they are also permitted to take such action as they deem fit and proper if they notice that if one or the other conditions with which permission has been granted by the various authorities of the Forest Department in their proceedings are violated in one way or other and with these directions, this writ petition is disposed of without costs.
State of Tamil Nadu,
Fort St. George,
Chennai 600 009.
2.The District Collector,
3.The District Forest Officer,
4.The Regional Manager,
Tamil Nadu Forest Plantation