Bombay High Court
Devkumar Gopaldas Aggarwal And … vs State Of Maharashtra Through Its … on 27 September, 2018Bench: S.C. Dharmadhikari Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT BOMBAY CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION WRIT PETITION NO. 4814 OF 2016 1. Devkumar Gopaldas Aggarwal }
adult, Indian inhabitant, residing at }
Ocean View, 3 rd floor 100 Bhulabhai }
Desai Road, Mumbai-400 026 } }
2. Yogesh Devkumar Aggarwal }
adult, Indian inhabitant, residing at }
Ocean View, ground floor, 100 }
Bhulabhai Dsai Road, }
Mumbai-400 026 } }
3. Prabha Devkumar Aggarwal }
adult, Indian Inhabitant, residing at }
Ocean View, 3 rd floor, 100 Bhulabhai }
Desai Road, Mumbai-400 026 } }
4. Shuchi Yogesh Aggarwal }
adult, Indian Inhabitant, residing at }
Ocean View, ground floor, 100 }
Bhulabhai Desai Road, }
Mumbai-400 026 } }
5. Anuradha Madhupati Singhania }
adult, resident of Singapore having }
her address at 10, Ewart Park, }
Singapore-279 775 } }
6. Sangeeta Aman Wallia }
adult, Indian Inhabitant, residing at }
Ocean View, 3 rd floor, 100 Bhulabhai }
Desai Road, Mumbai-400 026 } }
7. Rajkumar Gopaldas Aggarwal }
adult, Indian Inhabitant, residing }
at 221, Sector 15A, Noida-201 301, }
Uttar Pradesh } }
8. Asha Rajkumar Aggarwal }
adult, Indian inhabitant, residing at }
221, Sector 15A, Noida-201 301, }
Uttar Pradesh } Page 1 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc 9. Atul Rajkumar Aggarwal }
adult, Indian inhabitant, residing at }
221, Sector 15A, Noida-201 301, }
Uttar Pradesh } }
10. Komal Atul Aggarwal }
adult, Indian inhabitant, residing at }
221, Sector 15A, Noida-201 301, }
Uttar Pradesh } }
11. Uday Rajkumar Aggarwal }
adult, Indian inhabitant, residing at }
K 801, Pearls Gateway Towers, }
Sector 44, Noida-201 301, }
Uttar Pradesh } }
12. Manish Rajkumar Aggarwal }
adult, Indian inhabitant, residing at }
221, Sector 15A, Noida-201 301, }
Uttar Pradesh } Petitioners versus
1. State of Maharashtra }
through its Principal Secretary, }
Revenue and Forest Department, }
Mantralaya, Mumbai 400 032 } }
2. Tahsildhar, Village-Dahivali, }
Taluka-Maval, District-Pune } }
3. Chief Conservator of Forest }
Forest Department, Pune Division, }
Opp. Symboisis College, Senapati }
Bapat Marg, Pune } }
4. The Collector, Pune Division, Pune } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.31 OF 2017 Triveni Ramjit Singh and Ors. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents Page 2 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc WITH WRIT PETITION NO.146 OF 2017 Pavan Hooja and Anr. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra through }
Secretary, Revenue and Forest Dept. }
and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.159 OF 2017 Pandurang Tukaram Patil and Ors. } Petitioners versus
The State of Maharashtra through }
its Principal Secretary, Revenue and }
Forest Department and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.177 OF 2016 Smt. Renu Neeraj Kochhar } Petitioner versus
State of Maharashtra through its }
Secretary, Forest Dept. and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.216 OF 2016 Ananta Shankar Mahali and Ors. } Petitioners versus
The State of Maharashtra through }
its Principal Secretary, (Forest) }
Revenue and Forest and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.234 OF 2018 Mrs.Urmila Mohan Dubey and Ors. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents Page 3 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc WITH WRIT PETITION NO.281 OF 2018 Smt.Hashibai Shantaram Shinge }
and Ors. } Petitioners versus
The State of Maharashtra through }
its Secretary and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.389 OF 2018 Budhaji Balu Dudhale } Petitioner versus
State of Maharashtra through }
Secretary and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.593 OF 2017 Lahu Rama Shewale and Ors. } Petitioners versus
The State of Maharashtra through }
its Principal Secretary, Revenue and }
Forest Department and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.621 OF 2012 Bharat Shankar Chavan } Petitioner versus
The District Collector, Pune and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.988 OF 2016 Shankar Lakshman Adhari alias }
Bhawari (Decd) through LR, Baban }
Bhawari } Petitioner versus
State of Maharashtra through }
Principal Secretary and Ors. } Respondents Page 4 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc WITH WRIT PETITION NO.1077 OF 2016 WITH CIVIL APPLICATION NO.2572 OF 2017 Mrs.Sindoo Gala and Ors. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.1078 OF 2016 Amalgamated Industrial Estate }
and Premises Co-Op. Society Ltd. } Petitioner versus
State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.1087 OF 2006 Dr.N.P.Tolani (HUF) and Anr. } Petitioners versus
The State of Maharashtra and Anr. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.1272 OF 2016 Pravin Natvarlal Vepari and Anr. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra through }
Secretary, Revenue and Forest }
Department and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.1337 OF 2018 Nitin Savjibhai Nanda and Ors. } Petitioners versus
Union of India through Principal }
Secretary, Ministry of Environment }
and Forest and Ors. } Respondents Page 5 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc WITH WRIT PETITION NO.1513 OF 2017 M/S Byramjee Jeejeebhoy Pvt. Ltd. }
and Anr. } Petitioners versus
The State of Maharashtra through }
Chief Government Pleader and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.1591 OF 2017 Sundar Narayan Poojari and Anr. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.1767 OF 2015 Vasant Vishnu Khare (Since Decd) }
through LRs } Petitioners versus
The State of Maharashtra through }
Principal Secretary, Revenue and }
Forest Dept. and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.1895 OF 2017 Shankar Dhanaji Mhatre and Ors. } Petitioners versus
Union of India and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.2046 OF 2016 Yakub Salebhai Bohri and Anr. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra through its }
Secretary, Forest Dept. and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.2063 OF 2016 Yakub Salebhai Bohri and Anr. } Petitioners Page 6 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc versus
State of Maharashtra through its }
Secretary, Forest Dept. and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.2080 OF 2016 Mumtaj Begam Mohmmed }
Jafar Dalvi and Ors. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra through }
Personal Secretary and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.2086 OF 2016 Illa Rajesh Foundation and Ors. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.2103 OF 2016 Pratap Mansukhlal Shah } Petitioner versus
The State of Maharashtra through }
Secretary Forests (Revenue and }
Forests Dept.) Dept. and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.2216 OF 2017 Disha Direct Marketing Pvt. Ltd. }
and Anr. } Petitioners versus
The State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.2316 OF 2017 Abdul Wahab Shaikh Ismail } Page 7 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc Saudagar } Petitioner versus
State of Maharashtra through }
Secretary and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.2347 OF 2016 Rajesh G. Kapadia and Anr. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.2392 OF 2016 Sanjay Gajanan Patkar and Ors. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra through }
Secretary and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.2782 OF 2017 Parathil Mathu Abrahim and Ors. } Petitioners versus
The State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.3296 OF 2016 Dilip Pranlal Ghelani } Petitioner versus
State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION (STAMP) NO.3497 OF 2017 Harish Brijmohan Loyalka and Anr. } Petitioners versus
The State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.3773 OF 2016 Phaguram Sukhnandan Prajapati } Page 8 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc and Ors. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra through its }
Principal Secretary, Revenue and }
Forest Dept. and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.3857 OF 2017 Anandvan Samajik Unnati Sahakari }
Vriksha Lagwad Sanstha Maryadit }
and Anr. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra through its }
Principal Secretary and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.3875 OF 2016 Smt.Suhasini Achyut Mahajan } Petitioner versus
State of Maharashtra through }
Secretary and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.4277 OF 2016 Veena Bhagwan Thadhani } Petitioner versus
The State of Maharashtra through }
Principal Secretary, Forest and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.4542 OF 2015 WITH CIVIL APPLICATION NO.1633 OF 2016 Ramchandra Bhaguji Jawalkar }
and Ors. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra through }
Secretary, Revenue and Forest Dept. }
and Ors. } Respondents Page 9 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc WITH WRIT PETITION NO.4580 OF 2016 Ananta Vishnu Bhere and Ors. } Petitioners versus
The State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.4606 OF 2016 Vitthal Ragho Bhere and Ors. } Petitioners versus
The State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION (STAMP) NO.4658 OF 2018 Rajendra M. Developers & Builders }
Pvt. Ltd. through its Director }
and Ors. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra through its }
Secretary, Forest Dept. and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.4711 OF 2016 Dharmendra Kevalsingh Deval }
and Ors. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra through }
Secretary and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.4803 OF 2016 M/S Siddeshwar Foods Private }
Limited through Director, Shri Dilip }
Z. Kalantri } Petitioner versus
The Union of India and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.4810 OF 2016 Page 10 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc Safique Ahmad Jamil Ahmed Ansari }
and Ors. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.4869 OF 1997 Jitendra Harjivan Timbadia & Ors. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION (STAMP) NO.5074 OF 2017 Sanjay Narayan Gangavane and Ors. } Petitioners versus
The State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.5165 OF 2014 Sinhagad Technical Education }
Society, through President, Maruti }
N. Navle } Petitioner versus
Talathi Kusgaon Maval and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.5286 OF 2015 Parmanand Mathradas Jaisingh }
and Ors. } Petitioners versus
The State of Maharashtra through }
its Principal Secretary, Revenue and }
Forest Dept. and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.5288 OF 2015 Ramesh Dhanrajmal Mansharamani }
and Ors. } Petitioners versus
The State of Maharashtra through } Page 11 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc its Principal Secretary, Revenue and }
Forest Dept. and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.5485 OF 2017 Vivek Ramchandra Kalamkar and Ors. … Petitioners versus
The State of Maharashtra and Ors. … Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.5512 OF 2017 Shantabai Gangaram (Gunjaram) }
Deshmukh and Ors. } Petitioners versus
The State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.5559 OF 2016 Gunjar Investment and Trading }
Pvt. Ltd. and Anr. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra through }
Secretary and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.5583 OF 2017 Adesh Buttaram Dhamija and Ors. } Petitioners versus
The State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.5669 OF 2016 Manmohan Ranjitsingh Mehta }
and Anr. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra through }
Secretary, Revenue and Forest Dept. }
and Ors. } Respondents WITH Page 12 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc WRIT PETITION NO.5696 OF 2017 Tohid Furniturewala } Petitioner versus
The State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.6042 OF 2010 Kalayanmal Kevalmal Singhvi } Petitioner versus
The Collector of Piune and Anr. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.6174 OF 2017 Anosh Shroff } Petitioner versus
State of Maharashtra through its }
Principal Secretary and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.6365 OF 2016 Tarachand Dwarkadas Sharma }
and Ors. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.6417 OF 2015 Rohan Vijay Nahar and Ors. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.6420 OF 2017 Broadway Co-operative Housing }
Society Ltd. and Ors. } Petitioners versus
The District Collector, Thane }
and Ors. } Respondents Page 13 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc WITH WRIT PETITION NO.6444 OF 2016 Jimmy R. Mistry } Petitioner versus
State of Maharashtra through }
Secretary, Revenue and Forest Dept. }
and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.6623 OF 2016 Gurukul Grand Union School }
through Chairman, Smt.Manjusha }
Shinde } Petitioner versus
Union of India through Deputy }
Conservator of Forests, Envi. And }
Forest Ministry and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.6737 OF 2017 Shashikant Purshotam Patil }
and Ors. } Petitioners versus
The State of Maharashtra through }
its Principal Secretary, Revenue and }
Forest Dept. and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.6738 OF 2017 Pundalik Babu Patil and Ors. } Petitioners versus
The State of Maharashtra through }
its Principal Secretary, Revenue and }
Forest Dept. and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.6739 OF 2017 Page 14 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc Maruti Devram Patil and Ors. } Petitioners versus
The State of Maharashtra through }
its Principal Secretary, Revenue }
and Forest Dept. and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.6740 OF 2017 Balvantrai Prabhudas Vora and Ors. } Petitioners versus
The State of Maharashtra through }
its Principal Secretary and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.6741 OF 2017 Pandharinath Sadashiv Gangavane }
and Ors. } Petitioners versus
The State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.6742 OF 2017 Jaysingh Shivaji Deshmukh and Ors. } Petitioners versus
The State of Maharashtra through }
its Principal Secretary and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.6743 OF 2017 Machindra Atmaram Gangavane }
and Ors. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.6763 OF 2016 WITH CIVIL APPLICATION NO.253 OF 2018 Page 15 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc Asgar Esoofali Arsiwala } Petitioner versus
The State of Maharashtra through }
Secretary and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.6829 OF 2016 WITH CIVIL APPLICATION NO.252 OF 2018 Sanket Vijaykumar Wadekar }
through POA, Shri Deepesh Bhurat } Petitioner versus
State of Maharashtra through }
Secretary and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.6870 OF 2015 Bhavana R. Parekh and Ors. } Petitioners versus
The State of Maharashtra through }
Principal Secretary, Revenue }
and Forest Dept. and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.6933 OF 2017 Romil Apurva Parikh } Petitioner versus State of Maharashtra through }
Secretary, Revenue and Forest Dept. }
and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.6934 OF 2016 Smt.Renu Neeraj Kocchar } Petitioner versus
State of Maharashtra through its }
Secretary, Forest Dept. and Ors. } Respondents Page 16 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc WITH WRIT PETITION NO.6973 OF 2016 Lalit Chadha } Petitioner versus
State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION (STAMP) NO.7019 OF 2018 Rajendra Bapu Sadole, Power of }
Attorney Holder and Ors. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra through its }
Forest Department and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.7213 OF 2016 Rajdaksh Mahendra Sharma }
and Ors. } Petitioners versus
The State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.7288 OF 2017 Apurva Natvar Parikh and Co.Pvt. }
Ltd. and anr. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra through }
Secretary Revenue and Forest Dept. }
and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.7369 OF 2017 Sanjay Bhagwan Bhangare and Ors. } Petitioners versus
The Conservator, Forest Dept. }
and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.7446 OF 2015 Page 17 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc Merint Molecular Imaging Pvt. Ltd. }
and Anr. } Petitioners versus
The State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.7545 OF 2016 Khanna Traders through Mr.Sanjay }
Khanna } Petitioner versus
State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.7752 OF 2016 WITH CIVIL APPLICATION NO.2571 OF 2017 Rohiqa Cyrus Mistry through Cost. }
Attorney Mr.Vinay Karve } Petitioner versus
State of Maharashtra through }
Govt. Pleader and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.7766 OF 2016 WITH CIVIL APPLICATION (STAMP) NO.23398 OF 2016 Mahesh Gopaldas Saney and Anr. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra through its }
Secretary, Forst Dept. and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.7782 OF 2016 Ishwar Chandulaji Parmar and Anr. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra through its }
Secretary, Forest Dept. and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.8011 OF 2015 Page 18 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc Madhav Sadashiv Deshmukh }
and Ors. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra through its }
Secretary, Revenue and Forest }
Dept. and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.8408 OF 2015 WITH CIVIL APPLICATION NO.2338 OF 2016 Dattatraya Sambhaji Gosavi }
and Ors. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra through its }
Secretary, Forest Dept. and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.8498 OF 2016 M/S Shree Shaym Trading Co. }
through its Partner Shri } Laxmanbhai Keshavbai Praja } Petitioner versus
State of Maharashtra through its }
Principal Secretary, Revenue and }
Forest Dept. and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.8786 OF 2016
Waman Anant Rane through }
POA Holders and Ors. } Petitioners versus
Union of India and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.8857 OF 2017 Tapan Basu } Petitioner versus
The State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.8881 OF 2017 Page 19 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc Nilam Kailash Agrawal and Ors. } Petitioners versus
Union of India and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.8903 OF 2015 Suresh Shantaram Bij alias Warli }
through POA Shri Prashant Gosavi } Petitioner versus
State of Maharashtra through its }
Principal Secretary and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.8943 OF 2014 Smt.Sushila Amarsingh Pardeshi }
and Ors. } Petitioners versus
Union of India and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION (STAMP) NO.9261 OF 2017 Kiran Sharad Pandit and Ors. } Petitioners versus
The State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION (STAMP) NO.9262 OF 2017 Satish Daphtary and Anr. } Petitioners versus
The State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION (STAMP) NO.9263 OF 2017 Malti N.Naravane (Since deceased }
through P/A Holder) and Anr. } Petitioners Page 20 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc versus
The State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION (STAMP) NO.9265 OF 2017 Kalyani Kiran Pandit } Petitioner versus
The State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.9277 OF 2016 Bindi High School, Kalwa through }
Mr.Baburam Yadav } Petitioner versus
The State of Maharashtra through }
Dept. of Education and Anr. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION (STAMP) NO.9322 OF 2017 Vaishali V. Dandge } Petitioner versus
The State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION (STAMP) NO.9323 OF 2017 Shubhada Mohan Bapat } Petitioner versus
The State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION (STAMP) NO.9324 OF 2017 Kundan Sharad Pandit } Petitioner versus
The State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION (STAMP) NO.9326 OF 2017 Neeraj J Rao } Petitioner versus Page 21 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc The State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.9368 OF 2015 Smt.Nilophar Farukh Shaikh }
and Ors. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra through }
Secretary Revenue and Forest Dept. }
and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.9369 OF 2015 WITH CIVIL APPLICATION NO.173 OF 2017 Smt.Jayashri Yashwant Bapat }
and Ors. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra through }
Secretary, Revenue and Forest Dept. }
and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.9423 OF 2016 Punja Soma Mandawale } Petitioner versus
State of Maharashtra through }
Collector of Thane and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION (STAMP) NO.9454 OF 2017 Ramesh T. Bajaj (through LR Mr. }
Santosh Bajaj) and Anr. } Petitioners versus
The State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION (STAMP) NO.9455 OF 2017 Gauri Gurudatta Shirali } Petitioner Page 22 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc versus
The State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.9478 OF 2016 Bhagwanji Nagaji Nandu and Ors. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra through }
Secretary Revenue and Forest Dept. }
and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.9503 OF 2016 Vijay Harakchand Shah } Petitioner versus
State of Maharashtra through }
Secretary Revenue and Forest Dept. }
and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.9504 OF 2016 WITH CIVIL APPLICATION (STAMP)NO.17855 OF 2016 Satish Jamnadas Dattani } Petitioner versus
The State of Maharashtra through }
the Secretary, Revenue and Forest }
Dept. and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.9509 OF 2016 Santoshkumar Durgvijay Singh }
and Ors. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra through }
Secretary and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.9532 OF 2016 Page 23 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc Prasad Sanjay Pitale } Petitioner versus
The State of Maharashtra through }
Secretary and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.9604 OF 2015 Sunil Ghanshyam Jagtap and Anr. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.9614 OF 2017 Mrs.Yasmin Pheroze Mody Nee }
Miss Yasmin Soli Engineer } Petitioner versus
State of Maharashtra through its }
Secretary and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.9763 OF 2017 Madhav Abhay Jasani and Ors. } Petitioners versus
The State of Maharashtra through }
its Secretary, Forest Dept. and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.9899 OF 2016 WITH CIVIL APPLICATION NO.1168 OF 2017
M/S Tversus Motor Services Ltd. }
and Ors. } Petitioners versus
Maharashtra Land Revenue Dept. }
through Tehsildar } Respondent WITH WRIT PETITION NO.10112 OF 2016 M/S Praful Industries } Petitioner versus
Union of India and Ors. } Respondents Page 24 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc WITH WRIT PETITION (STAMP) NO.10134 OF 2017 Gajanan Trimbak Abhyankar } Petitioner versus
State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION (STAMP) NO.10137 OF 2017 Vidya Vijay Abhyankar } Petitioner versus
State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION (STAMP) NO.10138 OF 2017 Vijay Y. Abhyankar } Petitioner versus
State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION (STAMP) NO.10141 OF 2017 Vasudev Yashwant Abhyankar } Petitioner versus
State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.10161 OF 2015 Ashok Govind Bapat } Petitioner versus
State of Maharashtra through }
Secretary and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.10165 OF 2015 Bhanudas Ambu Mhatre and Ors } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra through }
Secretary Revenue and Forest Dept. }
and Ors. } Respondents Page 25 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc WITH WRIT PETITION NO.10205 OF 2015 Smt.Renu Neeraj Kochhar } Petitioner versus
State of Maharashtra through its }
Secretary, Forest Dept. and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.10266 OF 2015 M/S Merchant and Somji Agro }
Industries } Petitioner versus
State of Maharashtra through its }
Secretary, Forest Dept. and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.10267 OF 2015 Gulamali Mohammadbhai Somji } Petitioner versus
State of Maharashtra through its }
Secretary, Forest Dept. and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION (STAMP) NO.10400 OF 2017 Yashwant Trimbak Abyankar (Since }
deceased through LRs) } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.10721 OF 2017 Smt.Seetabai Ramu Chande and Ors. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra through }
Secretary Revenue and Forest Dept. }
and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.10750 OF 2015 Page 26 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc Kavindra Santprasad Singh } Petitioner versus
State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION (STAMP) NO.10797 OF 2018 Kamlesh R. Sanghavi } Petitioner versus
State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.10951 OF 2016 Gopal Padu Bhavarthe and Ors. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra through the }
Secretary, Revenue Dept. and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.11276 OF 2015 Yashodadevi L. Singhania } Petitioner versus
State of Maharashtra through }
Secretary and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.11382 OF 2016 Dhruv Krishna Kotak and Anr. } Petitioners versus
The State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.11452 OF 2015 Ramu Dattu Umavane } Petitioner versus
The State of Maharashtra through }
the Principal Secretary, Revenue }
and Forest Dept. and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.11488 OF 2016 Page 27 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc Keshav Moreshwar Soman } Petitioner versus
State of Maharashtra through its }
Secretary Forest Dept. and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.11495 OF 2016 Balu Shankar Balkawade and Anr. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra through its }
Secretary, Forest Dept. and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.11678 OF 2015 Nikunj Singhania } Petitioner versus
State of Maharashtra through }
Secretary and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.11679 OF 2015 Nikunj Singhania and Anr. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra through }
Secretary and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.11719 OF 2017 Valuable Properties Pvt. Ltd. } Petitioner versus
State of Maharashtra through }
Principal Secretary and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.11724 OF 2017 The Dharamsi Morarji Chemical Co. } Page 28 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc Ltd through its authorized Officer }
and POA } Petitioner versus
State of Maharashtra through }
Secretary and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.11753 OF 2016 Smt.Aditi Pandurang Jogalekar }
and Anr. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra through }
Secretary and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.11981 OF 2017 Arti Ajay Shevale and Ors. } Petitioners versus
The State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.12012 OF 2016 WITH CIVIL APPLICATION NO.1769 OF 2017 Veerdhawal Sitaram Ghag } Petitioner versus
Sub-Divisional Officer, Ulhasnagar }
and Anr. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.12084 OF 2015 M/S Kalpavruksha Plantation }
Private Limited } Petitioner versus
The State of Maharashtra through }
its Principal Secretary, Revenue }
and Forest Dept and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.12126 OF 2015 Page 29 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc Shashikant S. Choksi and Ors. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra through }
Secretary, Revenue and Forest Dept. }
and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.12175 OF 2015 Pravin Natvarlal Vepari and Anr. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra through }
Secretary, Revenue and Forest Dept. }
and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.12259 OF 2017 WITH CIVIL APPLICATION (ST) NO. 21892 OF 2018 Rajesh Nanji Gala and Anr. } Petitioners versus
Union of India through Principal }
Secretary and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.12260 OF 2017 Rajesh Nanji Gala and Ors. } Petitioners versus
Union of India, through Principal }
Secretary and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.12308 OF 2015 Mrs.Soha Nilesh Parekh } Petitioner versus
State of Maharashtra through }
Secretary and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.12339 OF 2017 Page 30 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc Santoshkumar Ramrichpal Gupta } Petitioner versus
State of Maharashtra through its }
Secretary, Forest Dept. and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.12352 OF 2017 Rajesh Nanji Gala and Anr. } Petitioners versus
Union of India through Principal }
Secretary and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.12502 OF 2015 Syed Shafiq Ahmed Aziz Ahmed } Petitioner versus
State of Maharashtra through }
Secretary, and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.12542 OF 2015 WITH CIVIL APPLICATION (STAMP) NO.21597 OF 2017 Vivekchand Tekchand Arora }
and Ors. } Petitioners versus
The State of Maharashtra through }
Principal Secretary, Revenue and }
Forest Dept. and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.12585 OF 2015 WITH CIVIL APPLICATION NO.504 OF2016 M/S Super Dream Real Estate }
Pvt. Ltd. through its Director }
Mr.Suresh V. Gada } Petitioner versus
State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents Page 31 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc WITH WRIT PETITION NO.12615 OF 2015 Pramila Vasant Joshte and Ors. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra through }
Revenue, Forest Dept. and Chief }
Secretary and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.12617 OF 2016 Anand Jain } Petitioner versus
State of Maharashtra through its } Principal
Secretary, Revenue and Forest Dept. }
and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.12624 OF 2016 Vipin Khimji and Anr. } Petitioners versus
The State of Maharashtra through }
its Principal Secretary, Revenue and }
Forest Dept. and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.12669 OF 2017 Pradeep B. Dongre and Ors. } Petitioners versus
The State of Maharashtra through }
the Secretary and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.13076 OF 2016 Jagdish Durgaprasad Agrawal }
and Ors. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.13190 OF 2016 Page 32 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc Mohammad Tayyab Qasim Sayyad }
and Anr. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.13191 OF 2016 Taher Qasim Sayyad and Anr. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.13192 OF 2016 Vimal Ashok Bhoir and Anr. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.13194 OF 2016 Sameer Harsukh Shah and Anr. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra through its }
Principal Secretary, Revenue and }
Forest Dept. and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.13195 OF 2016 Anand Jain } Petitioner versus
State of Maharashtra through its }
Principal Secretary, Revenue and }
Forest Dept. and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.13820 OF 2017 Janardan Kacher Shinge and Ors. } Petitioners versus
The State of Maharashtra through }
its Secretary and Ors. } Respondents Page 33 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc WITH WRIT PETITION NO.14146 OF 2016 Girish G. Chopra and Anr. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra through }
Secretary, Revenue and }
Forest Dept. and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.14147 OF 2016 Anil Shah and Anr. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra through }
Secretary, Revenue and }
Forest Dept. and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.14221 OF 2016 Kaluram Raghu Bajare and Ors. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra through its }
Secretary, Forest Dept. and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.14371 OF 2016 Zakia Sayed Hasan Edroos and Anr. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra through its }
Principal Secretary, Revenue and }
Forest Dept. and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION NO.14385 OF 2016 The State of Maharashtra through }
Chief Conservator of Forests and }
Director } Petitioner versus
M/S Byramjee Jeejeebhoy Pvt. Ltd. }
And Ors. } Respondents Page 34 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc WITH WRIT PETITION (STAMP) NO.15387 OF 2017 Dr.D.Y. Patil Educational Academy } Petitioner versus
Talathi-Maval, Dist Pune and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION (STAMP) NO.22382 OF 2017 Niti Merchant and Anr. } Petitioners versus
The State of Maharashtra through }
Principal Secretary and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION (STAMP) NO.24577 OF 2017 Kaiyomerz Cowas Palia } Petitioner versus
The State of Maharashtra through }
Secretary and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION (STAMP) NO.27305 OF 2017 Smt.Girja Chandrashekhar Wadekar }
and Ors } Petitioners versus
The State of Maharashtra through }
Secretary and Ors. } Respondents WITH WRIT PETITION (STAMP) NO.30103 OF 2016 Ramkumar Nandprasad Singh }
and Ors. } Petitioners versus
State of Maharashtra and Ors. } Respondents Page 35 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc WITH PUBLIC INTEREST LITIGATION NO. 201 OF 2015 Mr. Vijay K. Sawant } Petitioners versus
The Government of Maharashtra }
and Ors. } Respondents WITH (ORIGINAL SIDE) WRIT PETITION NO. 853 OF 2017 Silloo D. Mistri and Jehangir }
D. Mistri } Petitioners versus
The Tahsildar, Borivali and Ors. } Respondents Dr Milind Sathe Sr. Counsel a/w Sharmila
Deshmukh for Petitioner in W.P. 4814/2016.
Shri Milind Sathe Sr. Cunsel a/w Bhushan
Deshmukh a/w Monisha Mane a/w Pooja Tated
I/b ALMT legal for petitioner in WP 7446/2015.
Shri Ajinkya J.Jaibhave for petitioner in
W.P.2103, 13076, 13190, 13191, 13192 of 2016.
Ms Lata Patne a/w Vinod Joshi for petitioner in
WP 6623/2016.
Mr Lokesh Zade for Petitioner in
WPST/7019/2018.
Mr Kamlesh Ghumre a/w Sonali Jadhav a/w
Aditya Parulekar for Petitioner in WP
Nos.8786/2016 and WPST 34574/2016.
Mrs Alisha R.Lambay & Mr Vikas K.Singh a/w
Mr Aupam R,. Dwivedi I/b Lambay & Co for
Petitioner in WPST 10750/2015
Mr Vikas K.Singh for petitioner in WPST
30103/2016 & WP 31/2017.
Mr Vedchetan Patil a/w Radha Agrawal I/b
Moses Rodrigues for petitioner in WP Nos.
1337/2018, 216/2016, 12352/2017, 12260/2017,
12259/2017. Page 36 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc Mr Piyush Pande Ms Zahra Baldiwala I/b
Kartikeya & Associates for petitioner in
WP/2347/2016, 2086/2016, 2189/2016,
3296/2016, 9604/2015, 1591/2016
Mr A.S.Khandeparkar a/w Rakesh Pathak I/b
Khandeparkar & Associates for petitioner 11
&12 in WP/4869/1997 Mr Milind N.Jadhav a/w Pranav S.Nair I/b SRM
Law Associates for petitioner in WP/1513/2016. Mr Jitendra Pathade for petitioner in WP
11382/2016 & 2216/2017. Mr. Ooril Panchal I/b. M/s. Mahimtura and Co. for
the petitioner in WPST/10797/2018. Mr Ranbir Singh with Mr Hiren G.Shah I/b
Prakash & Co. for petitioner in WP
Nos.11678/11679/11276 and 12308 of 2015. Dr. Milind Sathe, Sr. Counsel a/w Mr Bhushan
Deshmukh and Ms. Swati N. Jain I/b A.S.Dayal &
Associates for Petitioners in WP Nos.
12617/13194 and 13195/2016 Mr P.K.Dhakephalkar Sr Counsel a/w
J.G.Aradwad (Reddy) for Petitioner in WP Nos.
8903/2015, 988/2016 8498/2016, 6737/2017,
6738/2017, 6739/2017, 159/2017, 593/2017,
5485/17, 6141/17, 6743/17, 2782/17, 5583/2017,
5512/2017, 11981/2017, 6740/2017, 6742/2017,
10724/2017 and WPST/5074/2017. Mr G.S.Godbole a/w Drupad Patil and Shivani
Samel for petitioner in WP/177/2016 and
WP/6934/2016. Mr G.S.Godbole a/w Drupad Patil and Akshya
Petkar for Petitioner in WP 10266, 10267, and
8408/2015. Mr G.S.Godbole a/w Shruti Tulpule & Kaustubh
Thipsay for Petitioner in WP 9614/2017 and
9763/2017. Page 37 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc Mr Iqbal Chhagla Sr Advocate with Naval
Agarwal I/b S.R.Waghmare for petitioner in
WP/6417/2015. Mr. Sudanrao Jondhale with Mr. Anand
S.Jondhale, Yashoda Jondhale, Babu Singh,
Mr.Ajay S. Jondhale, Vijay S. Jondhale and Raj S.
Jondhale I/b Jondhale & Co. for petitioner in
WPST/27305/2017. Mr. Sumit Kothari for Petitioner in
WP/11231/2017 Mr. Kaustav Talukdar counsel a/w Vikash Kumar
a/w Ruturaj Bankar I/b Lex Legal & partners for
petitioner in WP 6420/2017. Mr. Milind Sathe Sr Advocate , Mr Chirag Balsara
and Mr Singh and Akshay Doctor I/b Desai &
Diwanji for Petitioner in WP 7752/2016 Mr. Saket Mone a/w Mr Sumit Chakrabarti and
Ms Neha Joshi I/b Vidhi Partners for petitioner
in WP Nos. 4810/16,6973/16, WPSt 9454/16,
9324/17, 9455/17, 10138/17, 9322/17, 9262/17,
9265/17, 3497/17, 9323/17, 9263/17, 10400/17,
9326/17, 10134/17, 10137/17, 10141/17, 9261/17,
11719/17. Ms S.V.Sonawane with Mr. Satish Mule and T. H.
Jadhav for petitioner in WP 10112/2016 and
8881/2017. Ms Pooja Joshi for petitioner in WP 8857/2017 Mr Ajit R. Pitale for Petitioner in
WPST/24577/2017, WP Nos. 11452/2015 and
9532/2016 Mr Vikas K.Singh for Petitioners in WP 31/17 &
Wpst 30103/16. Mr Rabir Singh a/w Miss Naseem Patrawala a/w
Bhuvan Thakker I/b Malvi Ranchoddas & Co. for
Petitioner in WP Nos. 12615/15, 1077/16, Page 38 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc 1078/16, 6365/16, 7545/16. Mr Girish S.Godbole a/w Mr Ameya Vinay
Borwankar for Petitioner in WP 3857/2017 Ms Sonal Dabholkar I/b Suresh Sabrad for
Petitioner in WP 4606/16 & 4580/16. Mr Vivek Arote with Mr. Y. Apte I/b Harshad
Bhadbhade for petitioner in WP 281/2018 and
WP 13820/2017. Mr Vishal Phal a/w Ms. Jyotsana S Kondhalkar
I/b VBA law for petitioner in WP/1272/16,
12126/15, 12175/15, 14146/16, 14147/16. MR V.P.Sawant with Nitin Dhumal for petitioner
in WPST No. 15387/2017. Mr Vineet B.Naik Sr Adv. With Sukand Kulkarni,
for petitioner in
WP 12084/2015. Mr V.A.Gangal with Anup N.Deshmukh for
petitioner in WP Nos. 4542/15, 5559/16,
9369/15, 10161/15, 10165/15, 2392/16,
2080/16, 9509/16, 5669/16, 6444/16, 9504/16,
9503/16,12502/15, 10721/16,9368/16, 9478/16,
234/18, 2316/16, 11753/16, 12542/15, 3875/16,
11724/17, 7288/17, 389/18, 6933/17. Adv Karen D’souza I/b SRM Law Associates for
petitioner in WP 1513/2017. Shri N.V.Walawalkar Sr Counsel a/w Sonal
Dabholkar I/b Suresh Sabrad for petitioner in
WP. 4580/2016 and WP 4606/2016. Mr. Jehangir D. Mistri-Senior Advocate with Mr.
Navin Bhatia i/b. M/s. Mahimtura and Co. for the
petitioners in WP/853/2017. Mr Navroj Seervai Sr Advocate/ Special counsel
with Mr A.B.Vagyani Govt. Pleader with
Ms.Geeta Shashtri Addl.G.P and Mr Atul Page 39 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc Vanarase AGP with Mr P.P.More, AGP and Mr
B.V.Samant AGP for State. Mr Dhanesh R. Shah a/w Bharat Mehta for UOI in
WP 1077/1078/16, 9509/16, 4803 of 2016. Mr Nikhil Sakhardande a/w Mr Parag A.Vyas for
UOI in WP 4542, 12542, 10161, 12502, 10165,
16870 and 637 of 2015. Mr Chandrakant Chavan for R.No.2 in
WP/6365/2016, for R.No. 7 in WP 9586/2016,
and R,No. 8 in WP 2659/2016.
Y.R.Mishra a/w N.R.Prajapati a/w Upendra
Lokegaonkar, for R.No.1 in 6623/2016. Mr Advait M Sethna a/w M.S.Bharadwaj and Mr.
Pranil Sonawane for UOI in WP 6933/17,
7288/17,11753/2016 and R.No.7 in WP/234/18. Mr D.N.Mishra with Richa Mishra for R.No. 7 UOI
in WP 12502/2015. .Mr D.P.Singh for R.No.2 in WP 12615/2015. Ms J.N.Pandhi with Mr. Mohamedali M.
Chunawala for R.No.1 in 8943/2014. Adv S.I.Shah a/w Dushyant Kumar for UOI in WP
Nos. 644, 5669, 11663, 13866, 14271, 14272,
14274, 14343, 14409, 14440 of 2016. Mr Milind N.Jadhav a/w Pranav S.Nair I/b SRM
Law Associates for respondent in WP
14385/2016 Anil D,.Yadav a/w Anand O. Singh for UOI R.No.1
in WP Nos. 12352/17, 12259/17, 12260/17. Mr Parag vyas a/w Mr Vora and Mr. D. R. Shah
for UOI R. No.1 in WP Nos, 4814/16, 1883/16,
4542/15, 6870/15, 9369/15, 10161/15,
10165/15, 12542/15.
Mr Ajit R. Pitale for Respondent Mun, Corpn. In
WP 6420/17. Page 40 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc Mr Dushyant Kumar for UOI in WPst
Nos.6444/16, 11663/16, 13866/16, 14271/16,
14272/16, 14274/16, 14343/16, 14409/16,
14440/16 & WP 5669/16. Mr D.A.Dubey with Mohamedali M.Chunawala
for R.No.1 in Wpst No. 34233/2017. Mr B.P.Jadeja I/b Pranil Sonawane & A.M.Sethna
and Mr. Alefiya Mandriwala for R.1 in
WP/8786/16. Smt.S.I.Shah for R.No. In WP 5669/16 & 9478/16
for R.No.8 in WP9503/16 & 9504/16. Mr Mayuresh S.Lagu for R.No.1 in WP 1895/2017 Mr S.R.Nargolkar for Respondent in WP
4711/2016. Adv Karen D’souza I/b SRM Law Associates for
Respondent No.1 in WP 14385/2016. CORAM :- S. C. DHARMADHIKARI & P. D. NAIK, JJ.

Reserved on 3 rd May, 2018 Pronounced on 27 th September, 2018 JUDGMENT :- (Per S. C. Dharmadhikari, J.) 1. In all these matters, the primary question falling for our consideration and determination is, whether the judgment and order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Godrej and Boyce Manufacturing Company Limited and Anr. vs. the State of Maharashtra1 would apply or otherwise. The next question is, whether each of these petitioners can rely upon this judgment to 1 (2014) 3 SCC 430
Page 41 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc resist the consequences flowing from the Maharashtra Private Forest (Acquisition) Act, 1975 (hereinafter referred to as “the Act of 1975”), when their predecessors in title have never raised any dispute about the applicability of this law or the steps and action taken in pursuance thereof.

2. The facts and circumstances in most of these petitions are identical. Since extensive arguments were canvassed, we are disposing of these petitions by a common judgment. 3. Rule is granted in each of these petitions. The respondents waive service. By consent of parties, Rule is made returnable forthwith.

4. In Writ Petition No. 4814 of 2016 the facts are that the petitioners are the owners of land bearing Survey Nos. 81, 82/1 to 82/6, 87/1, 82/7 to 82/16, 84/3, 85, 87/2 to 87/4, 88, 90/1, 90/2, 91/1, totally admeasuring 108.7860 acres, situated at Village- Dahiwali, Taluka-Maval, District-Pune (hereinafter referred to as “the said property”), which is the subject matter of the present petition. The chart showing survey numbers with corresponding Gat numbers, the area and the date of purchase of the said property is annexed as Exhibit ‘A’ to the petition. Page 42 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc 5. Respondent no. 1 is the State of Maharashtra through its Principal Secretary, Revenue and Forest Department, in whose favour the impugned mutation entry is made in respect of the said property. Respondent no. 2 is the Revenue Officer, the authority constituted and performing functions under the Maharashtra Land Revenue Code, 1966 (hereinafter referred to as “the MLRC”), on whose instructions the impugned mutation entry has been effected in respect of the said property. Respondent no. 3 is the Chief Conservator of Forests, an authority constituted and, inter alia, discharging duties under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980. Respondent no. 4 is the Collector, Pune Division. All the respondents are ‘State’ within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution of India and, therefore, amenable to the writ jurisdiction of this court.

6. The petitioners, by this petition, challenge the arbitrary and illegal action on the part of the respondents in treating the petitioner’s lands as “forest/private Forest” although these lands have never been forest in fact or in law. The petitioners are also challenging the action of the authorities in mutating the name under the provisions of the Maharashtra Private Forest Act in “other rights” column in Revenue records of the Petitioners’ lands under Mutation Entry No. 521. The actions on the part of the Page 43 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc respondent authorities treating the said property as “forest” are completely arbitrary, unreasonable and non-est. The entire claim of the respondents for claiming the said property as “forest” is based on a purported show cause notice, stated to be issued on 7 th June, 1956 under section 35(3) of the Indian Forest Act, 1927, which was not even served on the predecessor-in-title of the petitioners who were cultivating the said property. The said property is “Jirayat” land and was cultivated accordingly. 7. The petitioners state that the said notice not having been acted upon by the respondents, has lapsed and ceased to have any effect and, therefore, the actions of respondents on that basis, after about 46 years of the said notice, are clearly arbitrary and unreasonable. In any case, the said property was always under cultivation by the predecessor-in-title of the petitioners and was never actually and physically “forest” at any point of time and, therefore, the notice issued under section 35(3) of the Act of 1927 was rightly abandoned and did not culminate into issuance of notification under section 35(1) of the Indian Forest Act, 1927. The mere issuance of notice under section 35(3) of the Indian Forest Act, 1927 is not sufficient for any land being declared as “private forest” as defined under section 2(f)(iii) of the Maharashtra Private Forest (Acquisition) Act, 1975. Page 44 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc 8. The petitioners state that the said property admeasuring 108.7860 acres was purchased by the petitioners, who are members of same family, during the years 1989 to 2002. The petitioners state that 79.4375 acres was purchased in the month of May, 1989, 6.4250 acres was purchased in September, 1989, 2.8500 acres in the month of July, 1990, 7.55 acres in the month of September, 1990, 2.1750 acres in the month of December, 1990, 6.0750 acres in the month of December, 1992, 3.0750 acres in the month of February, 1993, 0.6020 acres in the month of December, 2001 and 0.5965 acres in the month of January, 2002.

9. The said properties were purchased vide registered deed of conveyance after payment of the applicable stamp duty and registration charges. The petitioners state that the said properties were duly mutated in the names of the petitioners in the Revenue records without any objection excluding properties bearing Survey Nos. 84/3, 87/4, 82/10, 90/2 and 91/1. The petitioners state that in respect of the aforesaid five survey numbers, the petitioners have filed applications for effecting the entries in their names, but the same has not been mutated till date. The petitioners state that at the time of the purchase and at the time of mutating the names of the petitioners in the Revenue Page 45 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc records, there was no remark in the record of rights about the said property being “private forest”. The petitioners state that the petitioners have purchased the said property after exercise of due diligence in respect of the title to the said property and are bona fide purchasers for value without notice. The petitioners state that the words “Under the provisions of Maharashtra Private Forests Act” have been mutated by the respondents in the year 2002 unilaterally and without any notice to the petitioners. The petitioners rely upon the registered agreements of sale in respect of the said property. Exhibit ‘B’ is the chart detailing the properties, which are still not mutated in the name of the petitioners.

10. The petitioners state that since 1989, the said property is in the possession of the petitioners and the petitioners have not received any notice from any authority calling upon them to handover the possession of the said property. The petitioners state that in order to complete the title documents in respect of the said property, in the year 2008, the petitioners applied to the office of Talathi, Taluka-Maval for the latest 7/12 extracts. The petitioners state that upon receipt of the 7/12 extracts, the petitioners were shocked to see that in the “other rights” column, the words “Under the provisions of the Maharashtra Private Forest Act” was entered vide Mutation Entry No. 521. The Page 46 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc petitioners state that the petitioners immediately, vide application under the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI) dated 29th August, 2008, applied to the office of the third respondent and sought details of the notices issued and acquisition proceedings initiated in respect of the said property. The petitioners state that upon receipt of the documents from the office of the third respondent, the petitioners came to know that Mutation Entry No. 521 has been effected on 4th July, 2002 on the basis of the application made by respondent no. 3 purporting to annex copy of notices under section 35(3) of the Indian Forest Act, 1927 purported to be issued to the occupiers along with the purported notification under section 35(1). The petitioner state that thereafter, the petitioners, through RTI applications addressed to the office of respondent no. 3, called upon them to provide the documents pertaining to the declaration of the said properties as forest and collected all the information regarding the issuance of the said notices from the respondents. The petitioners refer to the said RTI applications. The petitioners, thereafter, received the photo copy of the documents on the basis of which the said property was mutated in the Revenue records as “forest”. Exhibit ‘C’ is the copy of the 7/12 extracts in respect of the said property showing the mutation of the words “Under the provisions of Maharashtra Private Forest Act”. Page 47 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc 11. The petitioners state that from a perusal of the documents received from the respondents under the RTI, it appears that on 7th June, 1956, notices under section 35(3) of the Indian Forest Act, 1927 were published in the Official Gazette in respect of some of the survey numbers comprised in the said property. The petitioners state that there is no record of the purported notices issued in respect of land bearing Survey Nos. 82/2, 82/16, 84/3, 85, 87(4), 87(2) and 91/1. The petitioners state that further in respect of the balance survey numbers, there is no evidence on record about the purported notices having been served upon the predecessors in title of the petitioners. Copy of the documents received by the petitioners under the RTI are annexed to the petition as Exhibit ‘D’.

12. The petitioners state that in the year 2001, the Bombay Environment Action Group filed a public interest litigation (Writ Petition No. 2980 of 2001/PIL No. 17 of 2002) in this court seeking directions against the State and concerned authorities to update the land records of the properties acquired under the Private Forest Act, 1975. This court passed an order on 27th June, 2001, directing the State to file affidavits enumerating the steps taken by the Government for recording the lands, which are ‘forest’ by virtue of inclusive definition under the Private Forest Page 48 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc Act, 1975 and to safeguard such lands from encroachment and trespass.

13. The petitioners state that the filing of the above PIL No. 17 of 2002 triggered the recording of various mutation entries in respect of lands, which were claimed to be ‘forest’ by the Department of Forest. Similarly, the Mutation Entry No. 521 was effected by the Talathi, Taluka – Maval, District – Pune in respect of the petitioners’ land, reflecting the words “Under the provisions of Maharashtra Private Forest Act” in “other rights” column on 4th July, 2002, without any notice to the petitioners. 14. The petitioners state that at the time when Mutation Entry No. 521 was effected, the 7X12 extracts recorded the names of the petitioners as the owners thereof. The mutation entry was effected by the Talathi, District – Maval on the order dated 3 rd July, 2002 issued by the Respondent Tahsildar, without any notice to the petitioners. The said mutation entry records that a letter dated 26th March, 2002 has been issued by the Range Forest Officer for entering the name of “Private Forest – Forest Department”. The said mutation entry also records that the said letter dated 26th March, 2002 was accompanied by notices issued under section 35(3) and notification published under section 35(1). The petitioners state that the petitioners, vide RTI Page 49 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc application dated 22nd December, 2015 addressed to respondent nos. 2 and 3, sought photo copy of the said letter dated 26 th March, 2002 along with the accompanying documents mentioned in Mutation Entry No. 521. However, the documents have not been provided to the petitioners as yet. A copy of the Mutation Entry No. 521 is annexed as Exhibit ‘E’ to the petition. 15. The petitioners state that the recital in the said Mutation Entry No. 521 is factually incorrect. It is evident from the perusal of the Government Gazette dated 7th June, 1956 that no notices are issued under section 35(3) of the Indian Forest Act, 1927 in respect of land bearing Survey Nos. 82/2, 82/16, 84/3, 85, 87/4, 87/2 and 91/1. Further, in respect of the balance land bearing Survey Nos. 81, 82/1, 82/4, 82/5, 87/1, 82/6, 82/7, 82/8, 82/9, 82/10, 88, 90/1 and 90/2, there is only the purported notice under section 35(3) of the Indian Forest Act, 1927 published in the Government Gazette on 7th June, 1956 without any evidence of the same having been served upon the petitioners’ predecessors in title. Further, even in respect of such properties, there is no notification issued under section 35(1) of the Indian Forest Act, 1927. The petitioners state that in the absence of any notification issued under section 35(1) of the Indian Forest Act, 1927, the said property cannot be declared as a “private forest” Page 50 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc under the provisions of section 2(f)(ii) of the Maharashtra Private Forests (Acquisition) Act, 1975.

16. On 24th March, 2005, the Division Bench of this court disposed of a batch of writ petitions relating to lands which were claimed by the State as “Forest Lands”. This court had held that lands to which notice under section 35(3) of the Indian Forest act was issued at some point of time were required to be treated as “forest” in view of the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Chintamani Gajanan Velkar vs. the State of Maharashtra2.

17. On 30th January, 2014, the Hon’ble Supreme Court decided the civil appeals in the matter of Godrej and Boyce (supra) and quashed the stop work notice issued in the year 2006 by the Municipal Corporation on the instructions of the Deputy Conservator of Forests. The claim of the land being ‘forest’ was based on a show cause notice issued in the year 1956-57. 18. The petitioners state that the said property was never a “private forest” under the provisions of section 35(3) of the Indian Forest Act, 1927 as no notice had been served upon the predecessors in title of the petitioners as mandated by section 35(5) of the Indian Forest Act, 1927. Further, there was no
2 (2000) 3 SCC 143
Page 51 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc notification issued under section 2(f) of the Maharashtra Private Forests (Acquisition) Act, 1975. The petitioners state that any notification under section 35(1) of the Act of 1927, if issued, is illegal and bad in law as no notice has been served upon the petitioners or their predecessors in title nor they were heard before the issuance of the notification. The petitioners state that only upon consideration of the objections raised by the owner of the land, the notification under section 35(1) can be issued. As observed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Godrej and Boyce (supra), section 2(f)(iii) of the Private Forests Act is intended to apply to “live” and not stale notices issued under section 35(3) of the Forest Act. The petitioners state that after issuance of the purported notices under section 35(3) of the Forest Act in the year 1956, no action had been taken by the respondents for taking possession of the said land and has permitted third party rights to be created in respect of the said property.

19. The petitioners state that the Mutation Entry No. 521 was effected in the year 2002. The Revenue records reflected the names of the petitioners as the owners thereof. The petitioners have not received any notice from the Forest Department for handing over possession of the said property till date. The Page 52 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc petitioners are in continuous possession of the said property from the date of purchase in the year 1989. Thus, even if the purported notification was issued, the State Government by its conduct has abandoned the same and, therefore, is non-existent. 20. On being served a copy of these petitions, the respondents have filed an affidavit in reply and that is pursuant to a direction issued on 31st August, 2016. The affidavit in reply, apart from raising an issue of maintainability of the petition, also highlights the facts on legal issues. Paras 2, 3 and 4 with their sub-pars read as under:-

“2. At the outset, I say and submit that the lands involved in this petition is “forest” and deemed reserved forest under the provisions of Maharashtra Private Forest (Acquisition) Act, 1975 [herein after referred to as MPF(A) Act, 1975] and deemed Reserved Forest under the Indian Forest Act, 1927 [herein after referred to as IF Act, 1927].

3. I say that Section 2(f) of the Forests AcquisitionAct identifies seven categories of lands as “Private Forests” which include section 2(f)(i) to 2(f)(vi) as well as all those areas which are not the property of Government and which fit into the definition of “Forest” as provided in section 2(c-i). I say that there under acquisition is not necessarily linked with Section 35 of Indian Forest Act, 1927, as being projected in many cases pertaining to the acquired private forests (deemed Reserved Forests).

4. I say that based on the above paragraphs, the following legal issues arise for the determination of this Hon’ble Court.

a) Section 3(1) provides for acquisition and vesting of all “Private forests” in the State free from all encumbrances with effect from the appointed day (i.e. 30th August, 1975) without any reference to section 34A or section 35 of Indian Forest Act, 1927.
Page 53 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc b) The term “Private Forest” is defined under Section 2(f). It has two distinct parts. The first part provides as to what is meant by the term “Private Forest” and the second part deals with what may be construed to be “private forest” like the lands/forests/sites of dwelling houses in such forests etc. by way of inclusion as mentioned in clauses (i) to
(vi).

c) The first part of the definition appears as the primary definition of the term “Private Forest” given by the Legislature for the purpose of its acquisition and vesting in the State Government under Section 3. As accepted by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in the judgment in the Godrej case, the land or tract of land which falls within the definition contained in Section 3 (c-i), and is also not the property of the Government shall be a “Private Forest” and would stand acquired and vested in the State Government by virtue of Section 3 of the MPF (A) Act, 1975 on and from 30 th August, 1975 i.e. the appointed day. It is not necessary for such land which falls within the definition of the term “Forest” as per Section 2(c-i) to also fall within any of the clauses (i) to (vi) of section 2(f). Thus, the two parts of the term “Private Forest” are independent of each other.”

21. Then, in para 7, it is stated that the forest areas were deemed reserved forests on the appointed day, namely, 30th August, 1975. The ownership of the said forest land stood vested in the State Government with effect from that date without any encumbrances. Any transaction of sale or purchase after the appointed day, therefore, would not confer any right in the purchaser. Any subsequent transaction of the land by original owners or their successors or any person, by way of various sale deeds and power of attorney, cannot be held to be valid. Thus, each of the petitioners would have to prove to this court that the Page 54 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc transaction relied upon was prior to the appointed day. It is stated in this affidavit that the mutation entries have been made after full compliance with the provisions of law. As per section 3 of the Maharashtra Private Forest Act, all private forests stood acquired and vested in the Government with effect from the appointed day. The notice, along with possession receipt and panchanama of acquired forest is available on record. A copy of the same is annexed as Exhibit-‘R-1’. As per section 5(1) of the Act of 1975, the Forest Officer (Range Forest Officer) has taken possession of the land. A list of the acquired lands as per the provisions of the Act was forwarded to the Collector on 30 th August, 1976 and this list contains the description of the said land. It is in these circumstances that the land stood vested in the State Government with effect from 30th August, 1975 and the owners lost their right, title and interest therein. Then, there is a specific denial of the factual averment that no notice under section 35(3) of the Indian Forest Act, 1927 was issued and served on the then holders of the said lands. It is not true that the said lands were jirayat lands under cultivation. Apart from relying upon a photograph, a copy of the panchanama of the present position of the land is attached as Exhibit-‘R-4′. Thus, this is a land adjacent to reserved forest Gat No. 276 and 254. All the averments to the contrary are, therefore, denied. It is specifically Page 55 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc denied that the lands are in possession of the petitioners. In fact, the Range Forest Officer, Shirota, has obtained possession of the lands from the then holders. Thus, it is stated that there is sufficient record to prove issuance and service of notice under section 35(3) of the Indian Forest Act, 1927. A reference is made then to the Golden Register, which contains the details of the notices issued and served on the then holders of the lands. In para 18 of this affidavit, it is stated that the Mutation Entry No. 521 was effected by the Talathi as per the orders of the Tahsildar- Maval as the said lands have been vested in the State Government as per the provisions of the Private Forest Act. Hence, the mutation entry is legal and valid. It is in this backdrop that it is submitted that the writ petitions be dismissed. 22. There is a rejoinder affidavit, which has been filed by the petitioner in this petition, reiterating the contents of the writ petition and purporting to deal with the affidavit in reply. It is admitted that the mutation entry was effected in the year 2002. The show cause notices under section 35(3) were issued in the year 1956, without any evidence of the same having been served upon the owners. It is clear that the State Government has not acted upon the said notices for almost 50 years and the possession of the subject land was always with the predecessor in Page 56 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc title of the petitioners and thereafter, the petitioners. After the purchase, the names of the petitioners have been duly mutated in the Revenue records. No notices of the mutation of the State Government in the subject land was served upon the petitioners in the year 2002. The mutation entries are, therefore, bad in law and, therefore, liable to be set aside. Thus, the claim is that there has been no adjudication of the question whether the subject land is a “forest” as defined in section 2(c-i) of the Act of 1975. The mutation entry has been effected only on the basis of the show cause notices issued under section 35(3) of the Indian Forest Act, 1927 by virtue of the inclusive definition. Thus, relying upon the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Godrej and Boyce (supra), it is urged that the lands cannot be termed as private forest. The rest of the affidavit in rejoinder only contains denials.

23. The facts in Writ Petition Nos. 4318 of 2016 and 177 of 2016, in which lead arguments were canvassed, can also be summarised in the sense, the subsequent purchasers and petitioners therein, on identical assertions and averments, urged that the mutation entries mutating the name of the State Government, on the basis that the lands are private forest and vesting in the State Government, are invalid and illegal. The details with regard to Page 57 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc the lands, the holders, issuance of notices, the date of taking purported possession and panchanama may differ. However, the essential allegation and challenge remains the same. The State Government also raises the same defence in the affidavit in reply and with mere change in the names of parties and dates and events. The essential contention in reply also remains the same. 24. Dr. Sathe learned senior counsel appearing for the petitioners in Writ Petition Nos. 4318 of 2016 and 177 of 2016 would argue that for a land being termed as a private forest and to be governed by the Act, it has to be first a forest. Secondly, a notice in terms of section 35(3) of the Indian Forest Act, 1927 should not only be issued, but there should be proof of issuance as also service. This is a condition precedent. In that, he relied upon section 35(4) (5) of the Indian Forest Act, 1927. It is then urged that action in terms of the notice should be taken within one year of its service, else, the notice loses its shelf life. That notice must culminate in an action under section 35(1) of the Indian Forest Act, 1927, otherwise, it lapses after one year. In that regard, he relied upon sub-section (4) of section 35 of the Indian Forest Act, 1927 and paras 63, 72 and 74 of the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Godrej and Boyce (supra). If the land vests in the Government after due compliance Page 58 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc with the above, then, steps in terms of section 3(2), 4 and 5 of the Act of 1975 have to be taken. Our attention is also invited to section 21 of the Act of 1975 to urge that the Government can declare, if it still wants to hold certain lands as private forest, but it cannot, in answer to these petitions, urge that the mutation entry is justified. The Government cannot urge that today the petitioners’ lands are private forests. If the sine-qua-non for the land to be termed as a private forest is not fulfilled, then, no amount of reliance on panchanamas and mutation entries would suffice. There must be clear proof and evidence of compliance with the law. It is stated that merely because the State Government says in the affidavit that some documents are available, that would not be adequate. The compliance with law requires that actions pursuant to notice under section 35(3) of the Indian Forest Act, 1927 must be taken and proof of both, issuance of notice and its service and action under section 35(1) would have to be produced. Merely because the issuance and service of notice is proved, but action subsequent thereto has not been taken or that fact has not been proved, then, the land cannot assume the character of a private forest. The proof of one is available, but later is absent would only mean that nothing, which has culminated into a firm action, has ever taken place. From 1975 till 2002, there is nothing on record except a mutation Page 59 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc entry. There is no proof of taking over physical possession either. It is in these circumstances that by mere reliance on a definition under the Act of the word and expression “forest” and “private forest”, the Government cannot insist on dismissal of these petitions. The Government must, independent of these definitions, also establish that the mandate of section 21 of the Act of 1975 has been complied with. Merely because there is an opportunity to answer or file a reply to the allegations in the writ petition does not mean that now a copy of the possession receipt or panchanama can be introduced by the State. The State must establish and prove that this record was in existence on the appointed date. For these reasons, Mr. Sathe would submit that the writ petitions be allowed.

25. We have also a reliance placed upon section 22A in the course of arguments in Writ Petition No. 7446 of 2006. There, it is stated that the restoration order has been passed. The petitioner is in possession and the land was never a forest. In that regard, our attention has been invited to pages 9 to 15 of the petition paper book and the affidavit in reply at page 191 of the paper book in that petition. Our attention is also invited to the letter of the State Government dated 7th March, 1980, copy of which is at page 198 of the paper book.

Page 60 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc 26. It is clear from the arguments of the other counsel that a common thread runs through them. The common thread is as referred above.

27. Mr. I. M. Chagla learned senior counsel appearing in Writ Petition No. 6417 of 2015, while adopting the arguments of Dr.Sathe, would urge that the Government’s action in this petition is based on the notice dated 16th November, 1961. There is no proof of service of this notice. Mr. Chagla would urge that there is no automatic vesting of private lands as private forest in the State Government. He would submit that the lands would have to assume the character of a forest. Merely because there is presence of bush, trees etc., that by itself is no evidence of the land being a forest. Therefore, for assuming the character of a forest, but applying the law to a land chosen, which is not a Government land, but a private land, it would be imperative that the proceedings under the Indian Forest Act, 1927 are initiated and taken to their logical end. The said proceedings are, therefore, a condition precedent for any land other than the Government forest to be identified and termed as a private forest. Hence, the Hon’ble Supreme Court holds that not only a notice under section 35(3) of the Act of 1927 must be issued, but it must be duly served. Further, such a notice should not be stale or old. Page 61 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc Then, Mr. Chagla would invite our attention to section 21 of the Act of 1975 to urge that the same enables the State Government, if it appears to it that any tract of land not being the property of Government, contains trees and shrubs, pasture lands and any other land whatsoever, and that it should be declared, in public interest and for furtherance of the objects of this Act, to be a private forest, then, the State Government has to follow the entire procedure prescribed in this provision. Once this enabling power has to be exercised in the manner set out therein, then, it could not be urged by any stretch of imagination that before any private land assumes the character of private forest, there is no necessity of preceding adjudication. Hence, there cannot be any vesting of a forest, which is private forest and not the property of the Government, independent of the above provisions of law. Mr.Chagla would submit that the provisions will have to be construed strictly. Each of the provisions of the above nature are, therefore, mandatory. There is no question of importing or applying the doctrine of substantial compliance to such cases. Mr.Chagla would, therefore, submit that the statute is expropriatory in nature. Once such is the nature of the statute, then, the interpretation of its provisions must be made with reference to its context and not de-hors it. Merely saying that this land, which is not a property of the Government, is a forest, Page 62 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc would, therefore, not suffice. In these circumstances, he would submit that the point is entirely covered in favour of the petitioners by the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Godrej and Boyce (supra).

28. Mr.Chagla, in the alternative and assuming without admitting the position prevailing in 1961 is alone relevant, submitted that in para 4(b) of the petition, there is a reference to an order made in Ceiling Case No. 141 of 1973, decided on 27 th September, 1973. This is the only contemporaneous record, but that is not adequate for the primary requirement is of issuance and service of notice under Section 35(3) of the Act of 1927. Pertinently, no document of the year 1961 is relied upon in the affidavit in reply. Mr. Chagla would also invite our attention to the judgment of this court in the case of J. C. Waghmare vs. State of Maharashtra3 relied upon by Mr.Sathe to urge that this is also considered by the Hon’ble Supreme Court while rendering the decision in the case of Godrej and Boyce (supra). 29. The argument of Mr.Chagla has then been adopted in more or less all the cases, save and except a case, which was argued by Mr.J. D. Mistri, the petitioner appearing in person [Writ Petition (O.S.) No. 853 of 2017]. He would invite our attention to the 3 AIR 1978 Bom. 119
Page 63 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc pleadings in that petition to submit that the position in that case is peculiar. Even the Government has acknowledged that the said land is not vested in it. The property is entirely managed and administered by the petitioner. That has been the position throughout. The petitioner No.1 has made a positive statement that neither she nor her predecessor in title have received any notice under section 35(3) of the Act of 1927. The mother of the petitioner is alive and she has affirmed the factual statements in the writ petition. For these reasons, it is submitted that this case must be viewed differently than others.

30. Similar attempt was made by Mr. Pratap Patil in one of the matters, namely, Writ Petition No. 11382 of 2016. 31. On behalf of the State Government, Mr. N. H. Seervai learned senior counsel was engaged as a Special Counsel. Mr.Seervai opened his arguments by submitting that each of these petitions are not bona fide. Each of the petitioners herein are not the original owners, save and except in a case here or there. Each of the petitioners have, subsequent to the vesting of the private forest in the State, contracted to purchase the land and are relying upon the documents allegedly executed in their favour. Neither the predecessors in title of the petitioners nor the original owners have ever disputed the position that the lands are Page 64 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc forests, that they are not owned by the State Government, that such private forests vest in the Government by virtue of the Act of 1975 and the entire procedure contemplated thereby being complied with. None of the petitioners have ever relied upon any document affirmed by the original owners, much less any affidavit, nor have they brought any material in that form even today. It does not lie in their mouth to say that the original owners did not receive any notice under section 35(3) of the Act of 1927. The original owners have never protested and have submitted themselves to the jurisdiction of the authorities under the Act of 1975. They have accepted their fate. They are in receipt of the requisite notices and, therefore, their lands, styled as private forest, have vested in the State Government as on the appointed day. Mr.Seervai has taken us through the scheme of the Act to urge that everything prevailing as on the appointed day is relevant and has to be accepted. So long as there is official record to indicate that lands, which are otherwise forest, but not the property of the Government, stood vested in the State Government on the appointed day, after due and proper compliance with the provisions of law and which record has never been questioned or doubted by the original owners, then, none of these petitioners can claim any right, title and interest in the property. The original owners have lost their right, title and Page 65 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc interest in the property by virtue of its vesting in the State Government. Therefore, it is entirely for the State Government to deal with the lands, which are vested in it and which are identified and taken over as private forest. The forest cover in the State of Maharashtra was depleting. A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed in this court bringing to this court’s notice the utter neglect and inaction on the part of the State Government in complying with the forest laws. This resulted in the forest cover or forests in general decreasing, thereby endangering ecology and environment. Once this serious issue was brought before this court, by way of the PIL, this court activated the authorities and the State Government as a whole, after which, the attention of the authorities was invited to the unauthorised and illegal attempts to takeover such lands indirectly. In other words, all those lands, which were private forests and stood vested in the Government, having not been properly depicted and shown as such in the Records that the mutation entries in the village records were inserted. That was done by a process known to law. Once that was done pursuant to an order passed by this court in a PIL and which order operates in rem, then, all the more, we should not accept any of the arguments to the contrary. It is mere updating of the Revenue records which has been done so as to prevent the mischief and potential threats to takeover the forest lands by Page 66 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc private persons. Once there are entries in the Revenue records depicting the lands to be a forest, then, it is not expected that such entries should be ignored by those dealing with these lands. If they have been intentionally ignored and still deals have been struck, then, such deals do not have any sanctity in law. The beneficiaries of such deals are before this court and hence, we should be very slow in interfering with the mutation entries or directing any de-novo or fresh adjudication of the issue and particularly whether these lands are forests and if they are, whether they are private forests within the meaning of the Act of 1975.

32. Mr. Seervai was at pains to point out that in each of these cases, the sheet anchor of the arguments of the petitioners is reliance on the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Godrej and Boyce (supra). However, Godrej and Boyce (supra) is not a judgment, which can be of any assistance to the petitioners before us. That was a peculiar case. The judgment must be read in the backdrop of the facts in the case of Godrej. There, Godrej successfully pointed out that no notice under section 35(3) was ever served on them and that is the basis on which their lands were taken away terming them as private forest. Godrej went, as far as bringing on record the affidavit and Page 67 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc a positive assertion of their employee, who was in service in its Estate Department in the year 1957, in which the Government of Maharashtra claimed to have issued and served a notice under section 35(3) of the Act of 1927 on Godrej. Thus, Godrej said that they were and continued to be the owners of the land, which is neither a forest nor a private forest vesting in the State Government by the Act of 1975. They refuted every allegation of the State Government and their assertion was backed by absence of any official record in relation to issuance and service of the above notice. Hence, the condition precedent to term the land as private forest and to hold that it vested in the Government of Maharashtra was not complied with in the case of Godrej. The decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court entirely rests on this premise. While appreciating the case of Godrej and particularly the argument of the learned senior counsel appearing for Godrej that the State Government’s stand that the proof of issuance of issuance of the notice under section 35(3) must be construed and accepted as proof of receipt/service would be too risky and to be applied to all cases across the board irrespective of their peculiar facts and circumstances. If proof of the nature brought by Godrej is on record, then, the further contention was that this assertion has definite force. It is in these circumstances and when the original owners had developed their properties, constructed Page 68 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc buildings and households, including factories and industries, that the Hon’ble Supreme Court rendered its judgment in favour of Godrej. If that judgment has to be applied to all cases and of the nature brought before us, it would result in destruction of forest cover and ecology in the State. Every person would then raise the issue of the issuance and service of notice under section 35(3) of the Act even though he has no right in the land or property. If subsequent purchasers like the petitioners are allowed to dispute the position emerging from the records of 1961 and 1975 in the year 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018, then, larger public interest would be defeated. According to Mr. Seervai, in Godraj’s case, the main part of section 2(f)(i) of the Act of 1975 was not considered at all. The case of Godrej was specific. That absent, a proof of service of notice under section 35(3) of the Act of 1927 and its mere issuance would not make the lands of Godrej a private forest. If they are not private forests then they would not vest in the Government. Thus, to hold that they are private forests, proof of service of such notice is also mandatory and every judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court to the contrary does not lay down a correct law. This argument was accepted in Godrej’s case and hence, no benefit or advantage can be derived of the same by these petitioners. Here, the petitioners are relying upon the case of J. C. Waghmare (supra), which is a judgment of this court and Page 69 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc even by that judgment, nothing contrary to what is urged by the State above, is held. In that regard, our attention is invited to para 25 of the said judgment.

33. Mr.Seervai continued his arguments by inviting our attention to pleadings in certain petitions and particularly in Writ Petition No. 4814 of 2016. He would submit that paras 1 to 5 of this petition are completely dealt with and the contents thereof denied and in that regard, our attention is invited to the affidavit in reply of the Government and pages 153 to 154 and 157 thereof. Mr.Seervai would submit that this is a case, in which he can successfully point out the falsity in the arguments of the petitioners. Mr. Seervai then proceeded to deal with the judgments cited by Mr.Chagla and submits that each of these judgments are distinguishable on facts. Mr.Seervai also laid great emphasis on the principle that no judgment, even it be of the Hon’ble Supreme Court, should be construed as if it is a statute. Mr.Seervai submits that judgments are not statute for a judgment interprets statute. Judges do not make laws, but they interpret laws. Therefore, a word here and a word there on facts makes a lot of difference and no judgment can be construed as a binding precedent unless there is a similarity in fact situation. In other words, if the facts, based on which a binding precedent has been Page 70 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc rendered, are identical to the case in which such precedent is relied upon, then alone the judgment can be said to be binding. 34. Ending his argument, Mr.Seervai would submit that presuming that the State Government cannot succeed on its case on section 2(f)(iii) of the Act of 1975 does not mean that the case is not covered by section 2(c)(i) of that Act. In other words, merely because the Government is unable to produce record which would indicate that a private forest has vested in it, then, the case of the Government should be allowed to rest and successfully on section 2(c)(i) of the Act of 1975. Thus, mention of section 2(f)(iii) would not vitiate the action of the State Government in this case because the lands have a natural flavour of a forest. That is how he would rely upon section 2(c)(i) of the Act of 1975. For all these reasons, he would submit that the writ petition be dismissed.

35. In rejoinder to Mr. Seervai’s arguments, Mr.Chagla and Dr.Sathe would submit that if we do not follow the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Godrej’s case, it would amount to acting in defiance of the law of the land. It is a binding precedent. Not following it would be judicial indiscipline. Every attempt to brush aside such binding precedent be discarded and all the more by the State Government. Merely because the erstwhile owners have Page 71 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc not come forward to challenge the action of the State Government does not mean that there is an estoppel, in the sense that the petitioners are prohibited or estopped from questioning the Government’s action. The petitioners’ locus cannot be questioned on the premise that the persons from whom they bought the land or acquired the title have accepted the action of the Government. Mere inaction on their part cannot be construed as acceptance of the action of the State Government. The inaction of the erstwhile owners would not deprive the petitioners of their right to challenge the said action and particularly when they are aggrieved by the mutation entries carried out in the year 2002. For these reasons, it is urged that the petitions be allowed. 36. For properly appreciating the rival contentions, a brief reference will have to be made to the provisions of the Act of 1927 and the Act of 1975.

37. The Indian Forest Act, 1927 is an Act to consolidate the law relating to forests, the transit of forest produce and the duty leviable on timber and other forest produce. The law was enacted on 21st September, 1927. Section 2 is the interpretation clause and thus contains definitions. Chapter II of this Act deals with reserved forests and contains provisions in that regard. Chapter III provides for village forests and Chapter IV is titled as Page 72 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc “Protected Forests”. Then comes Chapter V which talks of control over forests and lands not being the property of Government. Sections 35 to 38 fall in this Chapter and read as under:-

“35. Protection of forests for special purposes. – (1) The State Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, regulate or prohibit in any forest waste-land –

(a) the breaking up or clearing of land for cultivation;

(b) the pasturing of cattle; or (c) the firing or clearing of the vegetation;

When such regulation or prohibition appears necessary for any of the following purposes:-

(i) for protection against storms, winds, rolling stones, floods and avalanches;

(ii) for the preservation of the soil on the ridges and slopes and in the valleys of hilly tracts, the preservation of landslips or of the formation of ravines, and torrents, or the protection of land against erosion, or the deposit thereon of sand, stones or gravel;

(iii) for the maintenance of a water-supply in springs, rivers and tanks;

(iv) for the protection of roads, bridges, railways and other lines of communication;

(v) for the preservation of the public health.

(2) The State Government may, for any such purpose, construct at its own expense, in or upon any forest or waste- land, such work as it thinks fit. (3) No notification shall be made under sub-section (1) nor shall any work be begun under sub-section (2), until after the issue of a notice to the owner of such forest or land calling on him to show cause, within a reasonable period to be specified in such notice, why such notification should not be made or work constructed, as the case may be, and until his objections, Page 73 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc if any, and any evidence he may produce in support of the same, have been heard by an officer duly appointed in that behalf and have been considered by the State Government. 36. Power to assume management of forests. – (1) In case of neglect of, or wilful disobedience to, any regulation or prohibition under section 35, or if the purposes of any work to be constructed under that section so require, the State Government may, after notice in writing to the owner of such forest or land and after considering his objections, if any, place the same under the control of a Forest-officer, and may declare that all or any of the provisions of this Act relating to reserved forests shall apply to such forest or land. (2) The net profits, if any, arising from the management of such forest or land shall be paid to the said owner. 37. Expropriation of forests in certain cases. – (1) In any case under this Chapter in which the State Government considers that, in lieu of placing the forest or land under the control of a Forest-officer, the same should be acquired for public purposes, the State Government may process to acquire it in the manner provided by the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (1 of 1894).

(2) The owner of any forest or land comprised in any notification under section 35 may, at any time not less than three or more than twelve years from the date thereof, require that such forest or land shall be acquired for public purposes, and the State Government shall acquire such forest or land accordingly.

38. Protection of forests at request of owners. – (1) The owner of any land or, if there be more than one owner thereof, the owners of shares therein amounting in the aggregate to at least two-thirds thereof may, with a view to the formation or conservation of forests thereon, represent in writing to the Collector their desire –
(a) that such land be managed on their behalf by the Forest-officer as a reserved or a protected forest on such terms as may be mutually agreed upon; or (b) that all or any of the provisions of this Act be applied to such land.

(2) In either case, the State Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, apply to such land such provisions of this Act as it think suitable to the circumstances thereof and as may be desired by the applicants.”
Page 74 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc 38. A bare reading of the title of the Chapter and section 35 would denote that the State Government has a discretion to issue notification in the Official Gazette to regulate or prohibit in any forest or waste land as understood in law, when such regulation or prohibition appears necessary for the purposes indicated in clauses (i) to (v). Sub-section (2) of section 35 enables the State Government to construct at its own expense, in or upon any forest or waste-land, such work as it thinks fit. That is to fulfill the purpose of regulation or prohibition in any forest or waste land, the activities set out in sub-section (1) clauses (a) to (c) of section 35. Sub-section (3) of section 35 says that no notification shall be made under sub-section (1) nor shall any work be begun under sub-section (2), until after issuance of a notice to the owner of such forest or land calling on him to show cause, within a reasonable period to be specified in such notice, why such notification should not be made or work constructed, as the case may be, and until his objections, if any, and any evidence he may produce in support of the same, have been heard by an officer duly appointed in that behalf and have been considered by the State Government. Thus, the purport of the section is to inform the owner of the forest or waste land, where the activities referred above are sought to be prohibited or regulated. The word “owner” is defined in an inclusive manner in section 2(4A) to Page 75 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc include a Court of Wards in respect of property under the superintendence or charge of such Court. Thus, the power to place a forest or land in control of the Government, to assume management of forest in case the notification regulating or prohibiting the activities is neglected or willfully disobeyed is also conferred by section 36. The expropriation of forest in certain cases is permissible by taking recourse to section 37 and by section 38, protection of forest at request of owners is possible. These provisions, therefore, must be understood in the backdrop of the title to Chapter V, the object and purpose in enacting the Act of 1927 and protecting forests for special purposes. Therefore, the notification under sub-section (1) or the work under sub-section (2) cannot be issued or undertaken until there is compliance with sub-section (3) of section 35. We need not refer to further Chapters for those deal with timber and other forest rules, their control, penalties and procedure and other relevant and miscellaneous matters.

39. The Maharashtra Private Forests (Acquisition) Act, 1975 enables the Maharashtra Government to acquire private forests in the State and to provide for certain other matters. The preamble to this law reads as under:-

“An Act to acquire private forests in the State and to provide for certain other matters.

Page 76 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc WHEREAS the forest land in the State is inadequate; AND WHEREAS the private forest in the State is generally in highly degraded and over-exploited state, and is adversely affecting agriculture and agricultural population; AND WHEREAS it is, therefore, expendient to acquire private forests in the State of Maharashtra generally for conserving their material resources and protecting them from destruction or over-exploitation by their owners and for promoting systematic and scientific development and management of such forests for the purpose of attaining and maintaining ecological balance in the public interest, for improving the socio-economic conditions of the rural population,a nd particularly of the adivasis and other backward communities who generally live in forest areas, for developing as pasture the forest suitable for the purpose, for assigning a part of the private forest to the rural community, for controlling the soil erosion both in the forest areas and in the lower level agricultural lands, for conserving soil moisture, for improvement of the water regime and raising the water table, for retarding the siltation of dams and tanks, for distribution of forest produce for the common good and preventing the concentration of forest wealth to the common detriment, for distribution of the mature exploitable forest produce as best to subserve the common good, for promoting employment opportunities based on forest, for meeting the requirements of forest produce including fire-wood with a view inter-alia to decrease the dependence on cow-dung, and in particular, for afforestation of private forest wherever feasible on scientific lines, and thereby create conditions for the improvement of land and underground water resources to the best interest of agriculture and agriculturists in such private forests and other lands in the State, and for undertaking schemes for such purposes;

AND WHEREAS it is also expedient to provide that in the case of owners of private forests (other than those whose lands were used for extracting minor minerals such as stone quarries)’ whose total holdings of lands became less than twelve hectares on the appointed day on account of acquisition of their forest lands under this act, or whose total holding of lands was already less than twelve hectares on the day immediately preceding the appointed day, the whole or the appropriate portion of their forest lands so acquired shall be restored to, and reserved in, them, so that their total holdings of lands may be twelve hectares or less, as the case may be, and they may be able to continue to earn their livelihood from such lands; and to provide for certain other Page 77 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc purposes hereinafter appearing; It is hereby enacted in the Twenty-sixth Year of the Republic of India as follows:- …..” 40. The definitions are to be found in section 2 and we are concerned with the definition of the term “appointed day”. That is defined in section 2(a) to mean the date on which this Act comes into force. This Act came into force on 30 th August, 1975. The term “Collector” is defined in section 2(c) as under:- “2(c) “Collector” includes an officer not below the rank of a Deputy Collector appointed by the State Government to exercise the powers and perform the duties of the Collector under this Act.”

41. Thereafter, the definitions of the term “forest” “Forest Act” and “private forest” are relevant and material and read as under:- “2(c-i) “forest” means a tract of land covered with trees (whether standing, felled, found or otherwise), shrubs, bushes, or woody vegetation, whether of natural growth or planted by human agency and existing or being maintained with or without human effort, or such tract of land on which such growth is likely to have an effect on the supply of timber, fuel, forest produce, or grazing facilities, or on climate, stream flow, protection of land from erosion, or other such matters and includes; –

(i) land covered with stumps of trees of forest;
(ii) land which is part of a forest or ……

2(d) “Forest Act: means the Indian Forest Act, 1927 in its application the State of Maharashtra ;

……

2(f) “private forest” means any forest which is not the property of Government and includes, –

(i) any land declared before the appointed day to be a forest under section 34A of the Forest Act ;

Page 78 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc (ii) any forest in respect of which any notification issued under sub-section (1) of section 35 of the Forest Act, is in force immediately before the appointed day ;

(iii) any land in respect of which a notice has been issued under sub-section (3) of section 35 of the Forest Act, but excluding an area not exceeding two hectares in extent as the Collector may specify in this behalf ;

(iv) land in respect of which a notification has been issued under section 38 of the Forest Act;

(v) in a case where the State Government and any other person are jointly interested in the forest, the interest of such person in such forest;

(vi) sites of dwelling houses constructed in such forest which are considered to be necessary for the convenient enjoyment or use of the forest and lands appurtenant thereto ;

…..”

42. Section 3 of the Act is further material section and is another relevant section and it reads as under:-

“3. (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in any law for the time being in force or in any settlement, grant, agreement, usage, custom or any decree or order of any Court, Tribunal or authority or any other document, with effect on and from the appointed day, all private forests in the State shall stand acquired and vest, free from all encumbrances, in, and shall be deemed to be, with all rights in or over the same or appertaining thereto, the property of the State Government, and all rights, title and interest of the owner or any person other than Government subsisting in any such forest on the said day shall be deemed to have been extinguished.

(2) Nothing contained I sub-section (1) shall apply to so much extent of land comprised in a private forest as in held by an occupant or tenant and is lawfully under cultivation on the appointed day and is not in excess of the ceiling area provided by section 5 of the Maharashtra Agricultural Lands (Ceiling on Holdings) Act, 1961, for the time being in force or any building or structure standing thereon or appurtenant thereto.

Page 79 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc (3) All private forests vested in the State Government under sub-section (1) shall be deemed to be reserved forests within the meaning of the Forest Act.” 43. Thus, the definition of the terms “forest”, “private forest” together with section 3 would convey the object and purpose of the Act and namely to vest in the State, free from all encumbrances, all private forests. Once these private forests so vest and with a deeming fiction as envisaged by sub-section (1) of section 3, then, every right, title and interest of the owner or any person other than the Government subsisting in any such forest on the said day shall be deemed to have been extinguished. 44. The argument of the learned senior counsel appearing for the petitioners overlooks this fundamental position, namely, that everything must be seen with reference to the appointed day. On and from the appointed day, the vesting is complete and the deeming fiction in sub-section (1) of section 3 would demonstrate that the right, title and interest in the private forest is extinguished. Pertinently, in all these cases, the petitioners have come on the scene much after the appointed day. All the petitioners rely upon some document, but executed post the appointed day. None have been on the scene on the appointed day. For example, in Writ Petition No. 4814 of 2016, the 12 petitioners claim to be owners of the land. However, the argument is that the Page 80 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc property involved in this writ petition was purchased by the petitioners, who are members of the same family, during the years 1989 to 2002. They claim to rely on registered agreements of sale. Pertinently, in the petition, further it is stated that since the year 1989, the property is in possession of the petitioners, but they have not received any notice from any authority, calling upon them to handover possession of the said property. At the same time, it is stated in para 6 of this petition that the title was not complete by mere execution of agreement for sale in favour of the petitioners. In order to complete the title, in the year 2008, the petitioners applied to the Revenue officials for the registered 7X12 extracts. In that, they found Mutation Entry No. 521, which contains the details, namely, the acquisition under the Act of 1975. It is then that this mutation entry was known to them. It is then they made inquiries by seeking information under the Right to Information Act, 2005 and then they became aware of the date of the mutation entry, namely, 4th July, 2002. They state that this mutation entry has been made on the basis of issuance of notice under section 35(3) of the Act of 1927. They claim that this is purported to be issued and served on the occupiers along with purported notification under section 35(1). Such an averment in the memo of the petition itself means that not only was the notice issued, but, thereafter, the notification under Page 81 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc section 35(1) was also published in the Official Gazette. In the affidavit in reply, the Assistant Conservator of Forest very clearly states that the petitioners have no right, title or interest in the land, because on the appointed day i.e. 30th August, 1975, these lands stand acquired and vested in the State free from all encumbrances. This statement is made in the affidavit by relying upon the notice along with possession receipt. It is stated that the further steps have also been taken and by virtue of sub-section (3) of section 3, all private forests vesting in the State under sub- section (1) of section 3 shall be deemed to be reserved forests within the meaning of the Act of 1927. Annexure “R-1” to the petition is the notice along with possession receipt. Now, it is evident that the petitioners seem to be feigning ignorance of the contents of Annexure “R-1” to this petition. Annexure “R-1” in the copy of the notice and which notice is not the one which the petitioners purport to state and refer to. The stage of section 35(3) culminating into issuance of notification under section 35(1) was over long time back. This notice, copy of which is at Annexure “R-1” merely informs one Tulshiram Bhika Dagde and others, whose names were mutated in the records as owners earlier, that the lands covered by this notice are private forests vesting in the State under the Act of 1975. It is only that physical possession of these lands was not taken from these parties earlier. Page 82 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc That is how this notice calls upon the persons, to whom it is addressed, to handover physical possession of these lands to the Department of Forest/Assistant Conservator of Forest, Pune Region, else, that possession would be taken in terms of the power conferred by section 5 of the Act of 1975. This section reads as under:-

“5. Where any private forest stands acquired and vested in the State Government under the provisions of this Act, the person authorised by the State Government or by the Collector in this behalf, shall enter into and take over possession thereof, and if any person resists the taking over of such possession, he shall without prejudice to any other action to which he may be liable, be liable to be removed by the use or such force as may be necessary.”

45. Hence, this is a notice traceable to section 5 of the Act and based on that, the affidavit asserts that the steps prior thereto have already been taken and no issue, much less a dispute or challenge was ever raised to such an action, on the part of the State Government, by anybody. Pertinently, on the date when the proceedings under section 35(3) and 35(1) ended and equally section 5 was invoked, the petitioners were not on the scene. It is surprising and shocking that they are filing petitions in this court and stating that no notice under section 35(3) was issued and served. That is not the controversy which can be raised by the petitioners now, particularly in the light of the positive assertion in this affidavit in reply. Further, Annexure “R-2” is a list of acquired lands and which are private forests vesting in the State
Page 83 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc under the Act of 1975. That list was sent to the Collector in 1976. That list covers the land, which is the subject matter of this writ petition. It is, therefore, apparent that the petitioners have no right, title and interest in the land and the agreement for sale is not valid and legal.

46. Additionally, this affidavit in reply denies that notice under section 35(3) of the Act was not issued and served on the owners of the land. Once again, such argument of the petitioners flies in the face of section 35(3) of the Act of 1927, which says that notice has to be issued to the owners of such forests or land calling upon them to show cause within a reasonable period to be specified in such notice, why such notification should not be made as is referable to section 35(1) of the Act of 1927. Annexure “R-3” to this petition is a photograph of the land and Annexure “R-4” is a copy of the panchanama in relation to the present position of the land. The panchanama reveals that there are trees. The land has a steep slope. The trees are to be found on the slope. There is no construction of any nature nor any cultivation. This document is relied upon to show that the land is adjacent to reserved forest Gat No. 276 and 254. In the rejoinder affidavit, all that the petitioners would say is that the mutation entry was effected in the year 2002. The notices under section 35(3) of the Act of Page 84 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc 1927 were issued in the year 1956 without any evidence of the same having been served upon the owners. The State Government has not acted upon the said notices for almost 50 years and the possession of the subject land was always with the predecessor in title of the petitioners and thereafter, the petitioners. After the purchase, the names of the petitioners have been duly mutated in the Revenue records.

47. The statements in the affidavit in rejoinder would have to be seen in the backdrop of the averments in the writ petition. The statements in the writ petition are very guarded. The statements in the writ petition are that the petitioners came on the scene during the year 1989 to 2002. The writ petition, however, is filed on 1st April, 2016. In the writ petition itself, in para 7, it is stated that the petitioners were supplied with all the information, which they sought by making an application under the Right to Information Act, 2005. They were also supplied with copies of the documents. These documents received from the respondents revealed to the petitioners that on 17 th June, 1956, notices under section 35(3) of the Act of 1927 were published in the Official Gazette in respect of some of the survey numbers comprised in the said property. There is no record of the purported notices issued in respect of certain survey numbers. Then, it is stated Page 85 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc that insofar as the balance survey numbers is concerned, there is no evidence on record about the notices having been served upon the predecessors in title of the petitioners. Exhibit ‘D’ is relied upon in that regard. Now, Exhibit ‘D’ to this writ petition is nothing but a copy of the communication from the Conservator of Forest, Shirota, Kuvashet, Taluka Maval, District Pune. That is the office of this Conservator, which is communicating with the Tahsildar and giving him information on the subject of Writ Petition No. 2980 of 2001. Pertinently, this writ petition was filed in this court as a Public Interest Litigation so as to safeguard and protect forests and overall forest cover, which was apprehended to be depleted or adversely affected by the inaction of the officials in the Department of Revenue and Forest, Government of Maharashtra. The Tahsildar is informed by the office of the Conservator of Forest that village Dahivali, Taluka Maval, District Pune is the village concerned. Within the village limits, certain lands have been acquired and stand vested in the State by virtue of the Act of 1975 because they are private forests. There is evidence on record, which would indicate that these lands/private forests are not mutated in the Revenue records in the name of the Department or the State. That is why, acting on the communication from the Revenue and Forest Department, Mantralaya, Mumbai dated 22nd February, 2005, the necessary Page 86 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc steps are taken. These are but mutations, which remained to be carried out. In other words, it is the entries, which were not carried out by correcting the Revenue records. By this alone, the petitioners cannot assert that the steps prior to these lands or private forests vesting in the State have not been taken. There is no basis for such a plea as, in the same breath, the petitioners have also pointed out that in the Bombay Government Gazette of 7th June, 1956, a notice was published under section 35(3) of the Act of 1927 addressed to one Bhika Bhagu Padval. He was called upon to show cause as to why action under section 35(1) should not be taken. The notices are published in the Bombay Government Gazette of the above date and that is addressed to several persons, as is evident from pages 58 to 85 of the paper book. Then, it is stated that the notices in relation to the mutation entries follow the vesting of these lands in the State. The vesting takes place by virtue of the steps taken and referred in the law itself, namely, compliance with section 35(1) and (3) of the Act of 1927. In the instant case, no argument can be founded on non-issuance or non-service of notice under section 35(3) because the petitioners themselves annex extracts from the Bombay Government Gazette dated 7th June, 1956 and which is nothing else, but the notification issued under sub-section (1) of section 35 of the Act of 1927. That notification was in force Page 87 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc before 30th August, 1975. It is by virtue of that the State is asserting that this is a private forest, which was not the property of the Government. It stood vested on and from the appointed day because the steps prior to such vesting have already been taken. Thus, all the pre-requisites and pre-conditions stand complied with and fulfilled. It is not the petitioners’ case that notices under section 35(3) of the Act of 1927 have not been taken to their logical end in relation to these lands. It is not possible for them to raise such an issue or plead such a case simply because it is not the State, but the petitioners themselves, who are annexing copies of the notification published under section 35(1) of the Act of 1927. Once they do so, then, they would have to show that this notification was not in force before the appointed day. That is not their case. That plea could never have been raised by the petitioners because the petitioners were not on the scene at all on the appointed day. It does not lie in their mouth now to say that the concerned lands are not private forests and that they do not vest in the State free from all encumbrances. Thus, the entire foundation in this case is the inaction of the Revenue Department in mutating the name of the State Government in the Revenue Records. That the names have not been entered or entered belatedly is the basis on which these petitions are filed. The judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Page 88 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc Godrej (supra) is not founded only on such a plea. The positive case as pleaded and proved in Godrej (supra) is hopelessly lacking in these petitions. Besides this, the case as pleaded is vague and hopelessly lacking in material particulars. It is also very guarded and unsure.

48. The petitioners are aware that at page 86, the Talathi, Mauje Dahivali, Taluka Maval, District Pune has prepared a record of the entries and these entries would go to show that compliance has been made with section 35(1) of the Act of 1927. The petitioners are informed that each of these lands are vesting in the State and it is only the mutation or the process of inserting the name of the State Government in relation thereto, which had remained to be completed. Now, even that is completed. In these circumstances, it would be highly unsafe to allow the petitioners in this petition to argue that no notice under section 35(3) of the Act of 1927 was ever issued or if issued, was served. Such a case, if permitted to be introduced now and accepted would only mean that persons who are out to deprive the State and the public at large of a huge forest cover derive an unfair advantage and benefit by invoking the discretionary and equitable jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. It is too well settled to be reiterated that the jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Page 89 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc Constitution of India is extraordinary. That jurisdiction is vested in this court to promote justice and not defeat it. It cannot be exercised so as to undo what has already been done long time back and accepted by those, who claimed right, title and interest in these lands, but did nothing to assert it, though being very much on the scene at the relevant time. Once they do not deem it fit and proper to protest or have not protested in time, then, their inaction would visit parties like the petitioners with all consequences. If the predecessors in title of the petitioners have never bothered to question or challenge the action of the State Government in taking over their lands/private forests, then, it is not open to the petitioners to now challenge the same. The petitioners have to blame themselves for having dealt with lands and properties, which were never owned by their predecessor in title. Their predecessors in title lost their rights and interest in the land on the appointed day. Much before they dealt with these lands or entered into the transactions with the petitioners, they were denuded of their right, title and interest in the same. One, who deals in such lands and properties is not entitled to any protection from a court of law, much less in writ jurisdiction. 49. This is the position common to almost all the petitions, which have been argued before us. In the other two petitions Page 90 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc argued by Mr. Chagla, it is evident that at pages 32 to 47 of the Writ Petition Nos. 6417 of 2015, the petitioners have annexed what, according to them, are the relevant documents. However, as is evident from the documents, these documents cannot be of any avail or assistance as even these petitioners were not on the scene. The predecessor in title of these petitioners have also not bothered to question the acts of the State and its officials. 50. Pertinently, even Mr. Chagla could not dispute that each of these petitioners are not the original owners. The lands involved in this petition were originally owned by Chinchwad Devasthan Trust. These lands were sold to the petitioners only in the year 1999. It is claimed that the Trust filed a return or statement in respect of holding of agricultural lands. An inquiry was held by the Special Deputy Collector, Land Ceiling, Phaltan. He passed an order on 27th September, 1973 and excluded, inter alia, the said lands bearing Old Survey No. 247 (present Survey No. 211), village Mann from the holding of the Trust. It is stated that it was not mentioned anywhere that these lands were forest lands or attract the provisions of the Act of 1927 or any law relating to forest.

51. The Trust intended to give on lease for a period of 99 years, inter alia, the said lands and invited offers. Then, the Trust is Page 91 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc stated to have made application before the Charity Commissioner, who granted permission to sell or lease the lands. Then, it is claimed that a company (Kalpavruksha Plantations Private Limited) purchased these lands as its offer was accepted. A lease was executed in favour of this company for 99 years and thereafter, mutation entries were made. Then, it is stated that an outright sale offer was made by the Trust and once again, it inserted public notices, in response to which the very company, to which the land was leased, agreed to purchase and the Trust agreed to sell the lands subject to the right of nomination of the company in favour of petitioner nos. 1, 2, 4 and 5. It is claimed that such is the acquisition of the right in the property and after payment of consideration. It is, therefore, claimed that at no stage there was any invocation of forest laws. It is only when the first respondent, through respondent no. 3 directed respondent no. 4 to ensure that necessary entries are made in his Tehsil in respect of the lands affected by the Act of 1975 that the necessary entries in the village records were made. It is claimed that the lands are affected by the provisions of the Act of 1927 and that Act was applied and invoked based on a notice dated 21 st June, 1961 issued under section 35(3) of the Act and published in the Official Gazette on 16th November, 1961 by respondent no. 1. That is how respondent no. 4 instructed the village level officer to Page 92 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc make the necessary entries in the record of rights based upon this notice. That is how this village level official acted and made the entries in the 7X12 extracts.

52. It is claimed that what is published is a draft/proforma of the notification under section 35(1) of the Act of 1927. That is appended to the notice under section 35(3) of the Act of 1927 published in the Government Gazette of 21 st June, 1961. Thus, this is an issuance of notice under section 35(3), but that has not been taken to its logical conclusion.

53. In response to this petition, an affidavit in reply has been filed by the Assistant Conservator of Forest, Pune, who says that Old Survey No. 247 admeasures 352 Acres and 31 Gunthas (142.76 Hectares). It is renumbered as Gat No. 211. After referring to the provisions of the Act of 1927 and 1975, it is claimed that the Revenue Entry Nos. 5179 and 6575 are rightly made. It is claimed that Notice No. 31/2723 dated 21 st June, 1961 issued under section 35(3) of the Act of 1927 was issued and served on the then original land owner Shri. Karbhari, Chindhwad Devasthan, Chinchwad. This was also published in the Official Gazette dated 16th November, 1961. Exhibit ‘R-2’ to this affidavit is relied upon. We do not see how, when the then owners nor anybody claiming through them ever sought an Page 93 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc enquiry into the factual aspects, particularly in relation to the Gazette notifications, that merely relying upon knowledge of the Revenue entry derived in 2004, can we entertain this petition. We have carefully perused Exhibit ‘R-2’ and it is evident that this was a notice issued pursuant to section 35(3) of the Act of 1927 and a notification dated 19th September, 1950 (notifying the rules). The entire notification indicates as to how there is a description of the lands, the boundaries, the village and it is stated that the notice dated 21st June, 1961 was known to all concerned. The communication, copy of which is at Exhibit ‘R-4′ from the Range Forest Officer, Paud addressed to Tahsildar, Mulshi (Paud) records the compliance with the Act of 1927 and the Act of 1975 and directs him to ensure that no non-forest activity should be carried out on this reserved forest. To ensure that no such activities are carried out, it is necessary to insert the entry in the requisite 7X12 extracts denoting the lands as reserved forest. He was to comply with this communication from the Forest Department. Beyond that, we do not see how anything can be read in this communication far from urging that for the first time in May, 2010, the provisions of the law were sought to be applied, relying on the alleged compliance with section 35(3) of the Act of 1927. That compliance has been already made and such compliance is relied upon to take the further steps. Thus, making Page 94 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc correction or inserting of a mutation entry later on, therefore, confers no right in the petitioners herein.

54. In most of these cases, the same position would emerge and though several counsel attempted to distinguish their matters from the others, still, we do not find the facts and circumstances to be any way different or distinct at all.

55. For example, in Writ Petition (ST) No. 30103 of 2016, the lands involved are situated in Thane District and Vasai Taluka. There, similar steps were taken, though the petitioners may refute the same. There, the only argument was no notice under section 35(1) of the Act of 1927 was issued. The pleadings in this petition and the arguments would denote as to how only guarded statements are made. There is no positive assertion. By picking up some paragraphs from the judgment in the case of Godrej and Boyce (supra), it is sought to be urged that the issuance of notice under section 35(3) of the Act of 1927 is not admitted by the petitioners. Then, they say that the notice has never been served or any hearing was ever held. This pre-supposes that there was a notice issued, but the petitioners do not wish to admit that it was duly served. The State Government may not have filed any reply, but reliance on such guarded statements would not be safe. It is highly unsafe to rely upon such sketchy and incomplete materials. Page 95 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc Firstly, an attempt is made to urge that no notice under section 35(3) of the Act of 1927 was issued. Secondly, the attempt is to show that there is no record that such notice, even if issued, ever served or thirdly, if served, any hearing taking place. Finally, it is urged that all this has not culminated in the notification under section 35(1) of the Act of 1927.

56. Similar is the position with regard to Writ Petition No. 31 of 2017.

57. In Writ Petition No. 10112 of 2016, it is claimed that the important dates and events would denote that the notification under section 35(1) under the Act of 1927 was not published. Thus, what is published is a draft order. We are not sure as to whether the petitioners can rely upon the ratio in the case of Godrej and Boyce (supra) and raise such contentions. More so, when these petitioners are aware that the State Government has produced with its reply affidavit, a copy of the notice under section 35(3) issued way back on 5 th July, 1957 for Survey No. 67. That notice was issued to the predecessor in title of the petitioners. We have grave doubts as to whether the petitioner is at all the successor in title of the original owner for the original owner himself lost the right, title and interest in the land on the appointed day as above. Therefore, the argument that no notice Page 96 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc was served on him, now raised in a writ petition filed in 2016, is without merit. The petitioners cannot urge that the notice was never served.

58. Even if the lands are in urban agglomeration in Thane city and used for non-agricultural purpose in 1973, what we find is that Mutation Entry No. 1673 was made on the basis of an alleged pending inquiry under the Act of 1975. It is such a land which is acquired by the petitioners. We are, therefore, of the opinion that at the instance of the present petitioners, no relief in the nature of holding an inquiry now can be granted.

59. We have also perused the communication dated 6th July, 2015 of the Revenue and Forest Department of the Government of Maharashtra signed by the Chief Conservator of Forest and addressed to all the Divisional Commissioners and District Collectors. It specifically invites the attention of these authorities to the fact that there was no question of deleting the Revenue entries (reserved forest) pertaining to lands other than those covered by the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court. Thus, benefit of the Hon’ble Supreme Court judgment could have been derived only by those 90 petitioners, who had already approached the Hon’ble Supreme Court. They were aggrieved and dissatisfied with the judgment and order rendered in their writ petition by Page 97 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc the High Court of Bombay. There was no occasion, therefore, to delete the entries in relation to other reserved forests. That is a patently illegal act. It is in these circumstances that there is nothing that the petitioners can claim to be unclear or ambiguous so as to give them an impression that the judgment in the case of Godrej and Boyce (supra) applies to them.

60. However, the allotment of Gut numbers or new Survey numbers without anything more and by itself would not enable them to challenge the steps that have been taken as far as back as 1957 and secondly, they cannot rely upon the allotment of gat numbers or new survey numbers to claim that the area of the land is less than 2 hectares and therefore, they are out of the purview of the law. No dispute was ever raised by the petitioners’ predecessors, much less to the above effect. Similar is our conclusion in relation to lack of mutation entries or insertion of the same later on. Thus, the attempt in Writ Petition No. 6042 of 2010 and Writ Petition No. 4606 of 2016 is of no avail. 61. The written submissions tendered in Writ Petition No. 9763 of 2017 would denote that the mutation entries made in the year 2005 are sought to be challenged. The petitioners, beyond stating that no notice under section 35(3) of the Act of 1927 was ever issued on the petitioners or their predecessor in title and no Page 98 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc notice under section 35(1) of the Act of 1927, are seeking to rely on the judgment in the case of Godrej and Boyce (supra). If one sees the fallacy in the understanding of law, then, this is a clear illustration or example. The petitioners were nowhere on the scene when the Act of 1927 was invoked or they were not on the scene on the appointed day, namely, 30th August, 1975 when the Act of 1975 came into force. Now, they are desperately urging that the notification under section 35(1) of the Act of 1927 is nowhere published and therefore, it must be presumed that no notice under section 35(3) of the Act of 1927 was ever issued to them. The question of issuing such notice to the petitioners does not arise at all. However, these petitioners, realising their mistake, then say that such notice under the Act of 1927 was never issued to their predecessors in title, but if issued, was never served. However, if both compliances are made, then, there is no notification published under section 35(1) of the Act of 1927 and a copy of such a notification was not produced. 62. Mr. V. A.Gangal would vehemently urge that his clients’ case cannot be equated with these matters. We would only consider separately Writ Petition No. 6444, but as far as Writ Petition No. 389 of 2018 and Writ Petition No. 9368 of 2015 are concerned, the only argument there is, the plot of land admeasuring less than Page 99 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc 2 hectares was excluded from the operation of the law. This case is not different than the other writ petitions. Thus, in all the petitions, the factual position is identical, except for the description and location of the land. The fate of such petitions cannot be different.

63. Then, in Writ Petition No. 12542 of 2015, Mr. Gangal would submit that land bearing Survey No. 38(part), village Ambernath, Taluka Ulhasnagar, District Thane is a land, for which an application was made for sanction of layout on 15th March, 1974 and there was recommendation made by Collector’s office on 4th May, 1974. The final order was passed allowing conversion of the use from agricultural to non-agricultural. The layout was approved and immediately thereafter, plots were sold to various persons. The area is now known as Shivganga Nagar. The area was originally 21 hectares and 31 ares. There is a plot of 15812 square meters conveyed to MHADA under the Urban Land Ceiling Regulations. On the remaining plots, there are more than 100 constructions, which have come out from 1974-1975. There is a huge overhead water tank and situated at the centre of Shivganga Nagar. Thousands of people occupy the said constructions. The petitioners had filed an application to get zone certificate in respect of the above land with the Bombay Metropolitan Regional Page 100 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc Development Authority. In response to the said application, vide letter dated 31st January, 2002, the said authority informed the petitioners that the said land is falling under the zone of education, medical, recreational, roads and residential zone. 64. We do not see how then the petitioners say that a notice under section 35(3) of the Act of 1927 was issued on 27 th April, 1957, but was not served on the owners. Pertinently, the petitioners rely upon a registered deed of conveyance executed by original owners transferring the land in favour one Dr.Kishor Chand Dunichand Arora and Shri. Tekchand Dunichand Arora. This is reflected by Mutation Entry No.338 in village Ambernath. The dispute is confined to part of the land admeasuring 43 acres and 28 gunthas. It is claimed that there were suo moto proceedings, where, an order was passed under section 22A of the Act of 1975 by the Deputy Collector (Private Forests), Thane and he held that area admeasuring 17 Hectares, 45 Ares plus 3 hectares and 86.88 ares vested in the State of Maharashtra by virtue of section 35(3) of the Act of 1927. These are stated to be suo moto proceedings.

65. We would like, in the facts and circumstances of the present case, the authorities to verify the position and from the records, so that the correctness of the petitioners’ assertions can be Page 101 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc judged. Without expressing any opinion on the rival contentions, we direct the authorities, particularly the Collector, District Thane to examine the case as set up by the petitioners and pass the requisite orders after hearing them. However, this is an exceptional and unique case.

66. Then, in remaining writ petitions, same contentions have been raised and reliance is placed upon a circular of the Government of Maharashtra dated 14th July, 2005. It is claimed that in relation to such matters, an order has been passed so that the verification becomes possible. The respondents have clarified in each of these matters that none of the cases reflect the position on par with that of M/s. Godrej and Boyce (supra). Thus, there has been a compliance made in the cases, which we have referred and of both laws. In this, the State’s stand is, if the petitioners are at all aggrieved, they have remedy available under section 6 of the Act of 1975 and some of the petitioners have already filed proceedings before the Collector, which are pending. Therefore, the Government has not said that it would not be ready and willing to verify the position in these cases. However, it cannot extend a blanket protection for in that garb, several of the non- forest activities, which are ex-facie illegal so also unauthorisedly carried out would be continued. The vague and bald assertions Page 102 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc that are made by the petitioners are not based on the petitioners’ personal knowledge for none of them have stated that they ever made enquiries with the original owners nor, before filing these petitions, they have obtained any information from the original owners, which would denote that the original owners had not received any notices under section 35(3) of the Act of 1927. None of the petitioners have bothered to verify the factual position from the Revenue officials or the officials of the Forest Department, much less those at site, by seeking details and information. The crucial details and the vital information would be as to whether there is any record of title of the land, which is now styled as reserved forest, who was the owner or holder when the Act of 1927 was applied and invoked. Whether that owner/title holder was issued any notice under the Act of 1927 and was it served on him and finally, what steps in furtherance thereof have been taken. Once no affidavit of the original owner or positive assertion based on the information or details as above is to be found in the pleadings of the petitioners, then, it would be highly unsafe to rely on their assertions.

67. Even in the written submissions tendered by Mr.Vagyani- Government Pleader, with reference to several writ petitions, specific details are set out. These details are based on Page 103 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc Government records and official documents. It is in these circumstances that we do not find any merit in the contentions of the petitioners.

68. In Writ Petition No. 11382 of 2016, the assertion is that notice under section 35(3) of the Act of 1927 was never issued. It is stated that linking of the petitioners’ land in Gat No. 46, admeasuring 66 Ares purchased by the petitioners’ grandfather on 18th April, 1964 and inherited by the petitioners and Gat No. 2 Old Survey No. 1/1A admeasuring 6 Hector 81.4 Ares in Pune District is sought to be linked with another gat number, which is declared as forest. It is claimed that the petitioners’ lands are also forest. It is claimed that by linkage, the petitioners’ lands could not have been treated as forest. It is evident that the petitioners’ lands are treated as forest not by a direct process, but by an indirect or oblique one.

69. In relation to the above, we find that the petitioners in such petitions are relying upon allotment of Gat numbers to these lands. This allotment of gat or new numbers would not mean that when these lands were taken to be part and parcel of old survey number and divided into hissas or sub-parts, they were not taken as a single piece of land. The procedure to allot gat numbers was under a distinct law. The dissatisfaction of the petitioners can be Page 104 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc understood for when they sought to acquire these lands, they knew that they had already assumed the character of reserved forest. They knew that there was lack of mutation entry in relation thereto in the 7X12 extracts of the concerned village. Pertinently, in Writ Petition No. 11382 of 2016, it is stated by the respondents that once the reserved forests have to be managed and maintained by the Government, then, naturally the expectation was all land revenue records would be mutated accordingly. That is how the character of these lands should be indicated with reference to the appointed day in the revenue records. It is claimed that land admeasuring 6.81 hectares and 0.66 Are in Gat Nos. 2 and 46 of village Pangaloli, Taluka Maval, District Pune was acquired by applying the Act of 1975 and that is in accordance with law. It is claimed that the said lands were forests as defined in section 2(c-i)(iii) of the Act of 1975 as they were linked to Survey No. 52. The said survey number came to be declared as reserved forest by issuing a notification dated 29 th December, 1921. Annexure ‘R-1’ to the affidavit in reply is a copy of this notification. A careful perusal of Annexure ‘R-1′ at page 124 of the paper book reads as under:-

“THE BOMBAY GOVERNMENT GAZETTE, DEC. 29, 1921 ========================================================== No. S.-35/13/8133.-In exercise of the powers conferred by section 19 of the Indian Forest Act, No. VII of 1878,
Page 105 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc Government of Bombay (Transferred Departments) are pleased, with reference to Government Notification No. A- Misc.-236, dated 10th February 1921, published at pages 426 and 427 of Part I of the Bombay Government Gazette, dated 17th February 1921, to declare the land in the Mawal Taluka of the Poona District specified in the Schedule hereto annexed to be Reserved Forests, with effect from 1st March, 1922.”

70. Below this portion appears a Schedule, in which, village Pangloli’s name finds place with survey numbers and area. It is stated that there was no demarcation of this forest area and that is why it will not be possible to ascertain its exact extent. There is a communication dated 30th August, 1976 of the Divisional Forest Officer, Pune Division, Pune. A list of the villages is annexed therewith and it is asserted in the affidavit that Mutation Entry Nos. 91 and 139 are valid. The land from Old Survey No. 64 is included in 1976 list of acquired private forests of Pune Forest Division, Pune for further action. Then, there is even a panchanama annexed. Pertinently, we find that the land is in village Pangloli, which is Maval Taluka of Pune District and when the Act of 1975 was applied and thereafter the attention of the Collector, Pune was invited to the list of villages and survey numbers acquired under the Act of 1975. The other survey numbers of this village Pangloli, which is admittedly in Taluka Maval are, therefore, mentioned at page 128 of the paper book against the name of village Pangloli at serial number 60. In these circumstances to urge that all these Government records are false Page 106 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc would be too bold for the petitioners do not dispute the Bombay Government Gazette and the notification of 29 th December, 1921. They also do not dispute the issuance of the communication from the Pune Forest Division. Still, they maintain that their lands are not forests/reserved forests and they are falsely linked to a reserved forest Survey No. 52. As held above, we would like the petitioners to approach the authorities in the event they are entertaining a doubt with regard to the status of their lands. This is despite the fact that in para 7 of the rejoinder at running pages 137-138, the petitioners admit that there is a communication from the Divisional Forest Officer, Pune to the Collector, District Pune, but that by itself will not make their lands private forests and subject to or covered by the Act of 1975 is the assertion. They are also relying upon the crop cultivation column of the 7X12 extract of the petitioners’ lands and claim that the entries therein are crop was cultivated in the land. Hence, these are agricultural lands. There is dispute with regard to Mutation Entry Nos. 91 and 139 and for which we have given them liberty to approach the Collector.

71. Before coming to the other petitions, we must note that in the lead arguments canvassed by Dr. Sathe and Mr. Chagla and other counsel, the emphasis is that all these matters are on par Page 107 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc with that of Godrej and Boyce (supra). Godrej and Boyce was a case raising a principal question and whether mere issuance of a notice under the provisions of section 35(3) of the Act of 1927 is sufficient for any land being declared as a private forest within the meaning of that expression as defined in section 2(f)(iii) of the Act of 1975. The batch of 20 appeals before the Hon’ble Supreme Court were argued on the basis of the facts in the Godrej and Boyce’ case. The facts in Godrej and Boyce’ case were that Godrej acquired land in Vikhroli, Mumbai by a registered deed of conveyance dated 30th July, 1948 from the successor-in-interest of Framjee Cawasjee Banaji, who, in turn, had been given a perpetual lease of the land by the Government of Bombay on 7th July, 1835. The land was described in the perpetual lease as “wasteland” and one of the purposes of the lease was to cultivate the wasteland. The appeals before the Hon’ble Supreme Court concern an area of 133 acres and 38 gunthas of land bearing Old Survey Nos. 117, 118 and 120.

72. Then, there was an Act passed, abolishing these estates. After referring to the salient features of this Act, it was stated that Godrej did not accept that the lease was brought to an end by the provisions of this Act and decided to contest the stand of the State Government. It filed a suit in this court for declaration of its Page 108 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc ownership and that the Abolition Act had no application to the lands in question. Though the suit was contested by the State Government, later on, there was a consent decree. Consequently, the Development Plan for City of Bombay, including Vikhroli, was published on 7th January, 1967 and the next development plan was published in 1991. In both the plans, the disputed land was described as residential. Thereafter, Godrej applied for and sought development permissions. Later on, the Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act, 1976 intervened, but M/s. Godrej earned an exemption from the State Government so that the provisions of this Act do not apply to the lands and they were exempted accordingly. After this order of exemption was passed, Godrej applied for and was granted permission by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai to construct multi-storeyed buildings and it constructed 40 residential (ground + 4 and ground + 7) buildings, one club house and five electric substations. Over a couple of thousand families occupy these buildings. Further construction was also made for a management institute and other residential buildings.

73. That is how it was aggrieved by a notice bearing no. WT/53 issued to Godrej under section 35(3) of the Act of 1927 and which was published in the Bombay Government Gazette of 6th Page 109 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc September, 1956. Godrej contested that and even when they had filed the earlier suit and the consent decree was passed therein on 8th January, 1962, issuance of such a notice was never made known to them. It was stated that it searched the details of this notice in the Department of Archives. The notice, as published in the Official Gazette, bore no date and according to Godrej, it was not served upon it. It was never acted upon. The subsequent events raised doubt whether the notice was issued or served on Godrej.

74. It is in such a factual scenario that the attention of the Hon’ble Supreme Court was invited to the provisions of the Act of 1927, the Act of 1975, the affidavits and the assertions placed therein and the judgment of a five-Judge Bench of this court in the case of J. C. Waghmare (supra). After referring to all these materials, the Hon’ble Supreme Court came to the conclusion that its earlier judgment in the case of Chintamani Gajanan Velkar (supra) is no longer a good law.

75. Dr. Sathe has brought to our notice certain paragraphs of this judgment and which, according to him, lay down the absolute principle that so long as a land is a forest within the meaning of section 2(c)(i) of the Act of 1975, the later provisions and particularly the definition of the term “private forest” would not come into play. In other words, a land has to be a forest and only Page 110 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc private forests, which are not the property of the Government, vest in the State by virtue of the Act of 1975. Once the lands are not forest lands at all, then, the Act of 1975 could not be invoked and that is the principle laid down in Godrej’s case. We are sorry to say and with greatest respect, that Godrej does not lay down such a principle. In the facts and circumstances of the Godrej’s case, the issue raised was as to whether the lands of Godrej could be termed as forest at all. In other words, they were not forest lands. That is how the Act of 1975 could not have been applied and invoked. This was all in the context of the challenge to the mutation entry in relation to the Godrej’s land, made by the State Government and particularly the Revenue Department officials. They entered the name of the Maharashtra Government on the basis that the lands are private forests. For that, they relied upon the notices issued from 1956-57 up to 1975 and argued that these are pipeline notices and once there is a proof of issuance thereof, it is immaterial whether there is proof or otherwise of a service of the notices issued under section 35(3) of the Act of 1927. It is in that context that M/s. Godrej’s arguments were accepted. 76. The relevant paragraphs of the judgment in the case of Godrej and Boyce (supra) heavily relied upon by Dr. Sathe are as under:-

Page 111 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc “43. The initial question is whether the disputed land is at all a forest within the meaning of Section 2(c-i) of the Private Forests Act.

44. It is quite clear from a reading of Waghmare that the “means and includes” definition of forest in Section 2(c-i) of the Private Forests Act does not detract or take away from the primary meaning of the word ‘forest’. We are in agreement with this view.

45. In Jagir Singh v. State of Bihar the interpretation of the word “owner” in Section 2(d) of the Bihar Taxation on Passengers and Goods (Carried by Public Service Motor Vehicles) Act, 1961 came up for consideration. While interpreting “owner” which ‘means’ and ‘includes’, this Court held:

“The definition of the term “owner” is exhaustive and intended to extend the meaning of the term by including within its sweep bailee of a public carrier vehicle or any manager acting on behalf of the owner. The intention of the legislature to extend the meaning of the term by the definition given by it will be frustrated if what is intended to be inclusive is interpreted to exclude the actual owner.”

46. The proposition was more clearly articulated in Black Diamond Beverages v. Commercial Tax Officer wherein this Court considered the use of the words ‘means’ and ‘includes’ in the definition of “sale price” in Section 2(d) of the W.B. Sales Tax Act, 1954. It was held in paragraph 7 of the Report: “The first part of the definition defines the meaning of the word “sale price” and must, in our view, be given its ordinary, popular or natural meaning. The interpretation thereof is in no way controlled or affected by the second part which “includes” certain other things in the definition. This is a well-settled principle of construction.”

47. In coming to this conclusion, this Court referred to a passage from Craies on Statute Law[20] which in turn referred to the following passage from Robinson v. Barton- Eccles Local Board:

“An interpretation clause of this kind is not meant to prevent the word receiving its ordinary, popular, and natural sense whenever that would be properly applicable, but to enable the word as used in the Act
Page 112 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc … to be applied to something to which it would not ordinarily be applicable.”

48. In the case of Godrej, the admitted position, as per the consent decree dated 8th January 1962 is that the disputed land was not a waste land nor was it a forest. In so far as the other appeals are concerned, the disputed lands were built upon, from time to time, either for industrial purposes or for commercial purposes or for residential purposes. Under the circumstances, by no stretch of imagination can it be said that any of these disputed lands are ‘forest’ within the primary meaning of that word, or even within the extended meaning given in Section 2(c-i) of the Private Forests Act. 49. The next question is whether the notice said to have been issued to Godrej being Notice No. WT/53 can be described as a ‘pipeline notice’. Again, the answer must be in the negative in as much as it cannot be reasonably said that the pipeline extends from 1956-57 up to 1975. Assuming that a notice issued in 1956-57 is a pipeline notice even in 1975, the question before us would, nevertheless, relate to the meaning and impact of “issued” of Section 2(f)(iii) of the Private Forests Act read with Section 35 of the Forest Act. This is really the meat of the matter.

50. Undoubtedly, the first rule of interpretation is that the words in a statute must be interpreted literally. But at the same time if the context in which a word is used and the provisions of a statute inexorably suggest a subtext other than literal, then the context becomes important. …..

54. Applying the law laid down by this Court on interpretation, in the context of these appeals, we may be missing the wood for the trees if a literal meaning is given to the word “issued”. To avoid this, it is necessary to also appreciate the scheme of Section 35 of the Forest Act since that scheme needs to be kept in mind while considering “issued” in Section 2(f)(iii) of the Private Forests Act. 55. A notice under Section 35(3) of the Forest Act is intended to give an opportunity to the owner of a forest to show cause why, inter alia, a regulatory or a prohibitory measure be not made in respect of that forest. It is important to note that such a notice pre-supposes the existence of a forest. The owner of the forest is expected to file objections within a reasonable time as specified in the notice and is also given an opportunity to lead evidence in support of the
Page 113 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc objections. After these basic requirements are met, the owner of the forest is entitled to a hearing on the objections. This entire procedure obviously cannot be followed by the State and the owner of the forest unless the owner is served with the notice. Therefore, service of a notice issued under Section 35(3) of the Forest Act is inherent in the very language used in the provision and the very purpose of the provision. 56. Additionally, Section 35(3) of the Forest Act provides that a notice under Section 35(3) of the Forest Act may provide that for a period not exceeding six months (extended to one year in 1961) the owner of the forest can be obliged to adhere to one or more of the regulatory or prohibitory measures mentioned in Section 35(1) of the Forest Act. On the failure of the owner of the forest to abide by the said measures, he/she is liable to imprisonment for a term upto six months and/or a fine under Section 35(7) of the Forest Act. Surely, given the penal consequence of non-adherence to a Section 35(4) direction in a Section 35(3) notice, service of such a notice must be interpreted to be mandatory. On the facts of the case in Godrej, such a direction was in fact given and Godrej was directed, for a period of six months, to refrain from the cutting and removal of trees and timber and the firing and clearing of vegetation. Strictly speaking, therefore, despite not being served with Notice No. WT/53 and despite having no knowledge of it, Godrej was liable to be punished under Section 35(7) of the Forest Act if it cut or removed any tree or timber or fired or cleared any vegetation. 57. This interplay may be looked at from another point of view, namely, the need to issue a direction under Section 35(4) of the Forest Act, which can be only to prevent damage to or destruction of a forest. If the notice under Section 35(3) of the Forest Act is not served on the owner of the forest, he/she may continue to damage the forest defeating the very purpose of the Forest Act. Such an interpretation cannot be given to Section 35 of the Forest Act nor can a limited interpretation be given to the word “issued” used in the context of Section 35 of the Forest Act in Section 2(f)(iii) of the Private Forests Act.

58. Finally, Section 35(5) of the Forest Act mandates not only service of a notice issued under that provision “in the manner provided in the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, for the service of summons” (a manner that we are all familiar with) but also its publication “in the manner prescribed by rules”. This double pronged receipt and confirmation of knowledge of the show cause notice by the owner of a forest makes it clear that Section 35(3) of the Forest Act is not intended to end the Page 114 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc process with the mere issuance of a notice but it also requires service of a notice on the owner of the forest. The need for ensuring service is clearly to protect the interests of the owner of the forest who may have valid reasons not only to object to the issuance of regulatory or prohibitory directions, but to also enable him/her to raise a jurisdictional issue that the land in question is actually not a forest. The need for ensuring service is also to prevent damage to or destruction of a forest.

…..

61. It is true, as observed above, that a word has to be construed in the context in which it is used in a statute. By making a reference in Section 2(f)(iii) of the Private Forests Act to ‘issue’ in Section 35 of the Forest Act, it is clear that the word is dressed in borrowed robes. Once that is appreciated (and it was unfortunately overlooked in Chintamani) then it is quite clear that ‘issued’ in Section 2(f)(iii) of the Private Forests Act must include service of the show cause notice as postulated in Section 35 of the Forest Act.

62. We have no option, under these circumstances, but to hold that to this extent, Chintamani was incorrectly decided and it is overruled to this extent. We may add that in Chintamani the land in question was factually held to be a private forest and therefore the subsequent discussion was not at all necessary.

63. Assuming that the word ‘issued’ as occurring in Section 2(f)(iii) of the Private Forests Act must be literally and strictly construed, can it be seriously argued that it also has reference to a show cause notice issued under Section 35(3) of the Forest Act at any given time (say in 1927 or in 1957)? Or would it be more reasonable to hold that it has reference to a show cause notice issued in somewhat closer proximity to the coming into force of the Private Forests Act, or a ‘pipeline notice’ as Mr. Nariman puts it?

64. In the absence of any time period having been specified for deciding a show cause notice issued under Section 35 of the Forest Act, it must be presumed that it must be decided within a reasonable time. Quite recently, in Ramlila Maidan Incident, In re[29] it was held:

“229. ….. It is a settled rule of law that wherever provision of a statute does not provide for a specific time, the same has to be done within a reasonable time. Again reasonable time cannot have a fixed
Page 115 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc connotation. It must depend upon the facts and circumstances of a given case.”

65. Similarly, in Mansaram v. S.P. Pathak it was held: “But when the power is conferred to effectuate a purpose, it has to be exercised in a reasonable manner. Exercise of power in a reasonable manner inheres the concept of its exercise within a reasonable time.”

66. So also, in Santoshkumar Shivgonda Patil v. Balasaheb Tukaram Shevale it was held:

“It seems to be fairly settled that if a statute does not prescribe the time-limit for exercise of revisional power, it does not mean that such power can be exercised at any time; rather it should be exercised within a reasonable time. It is so because the law does not expect a settled thing to be unsettled after a long lapse of time. Where the legislature does not provide for any length of time within which the power of revision is to be exercised by the authority, suo motu or otherwise, it is plain that exercise of such power within reasonable time is inherent therein.”

67. According to the State, a show cause notice was issued to Godrej in 1957 (and assuming it was served) but no decision was taken thereon till 1975 that is for about 18 years. This is an unusually long period and undoubtedly much more than a reasonable time had elapsed for enabling the State to take a decision on the show cause notice. Therefore, following the law laid down by this Court, the show cause notice must, for all intents and purposes be treated as having become a dead letter and the seed planted by the State yielded nothing.

68. The entire problem may also be looked at from the perspective of the citizen rather than only from the perspective of the State. No citizen can reasonably be told after almost half a century that he/she was issued a show cause notice (which was probably not served) and based on the show cause notice his/her land was declared a private forest about three decades ago and that it vests in the State. Is it not the responsibility of the State to ensure that its laws are implemented with reasonable dispatch and is it not the duty of the State to appreciate that statute books are not meant to be thrown at a citizen whenever and wherever some official
Page 116 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc decides to do so? Basic principles of good governance must be followed by every member of the Executive branch of the State at all times keeping the interests of all citizens in mind as also the larger public interest.

69. In our opinion, the failure of the State to take any decision on the show cause notice for several decades (assuming it was served on Godrej) is indicative of its desire to not act on it. This opinion is fortified by a series of events that have taken place between 1957 and 2006, beginning with the consent decree of 8th January 1962 in Suit No. 413 of 1953 whereby the disputed land was recognized as not being forest land; permission to construct a large number of buildings (both residential and otherwise) as per the Development Plans of 1967 and then of 1991; exemptions granted by the Competent Authority under the Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act, 1976 leading to Godrej making unhindered but permissible constructions; and finally, the absence of any attempt by the State to take possession of the ‘forest land’ under Section 5 of the Private Forests Act for a couple of decades. The subsequent event of the State moving an application in Godavarman virtually denying the existence of a private forest on the disputed land also indicates that the State had come to terms with reality and was grudgingly prepared to accept that, even if the law permitted, it was now too late to remedy the situation. This view was emphatically reiterated by the Central Empowered Committee in its report dated 13th July 2009.

…..

71. It is difficult at this distant point of time to conclude, one way or the other, whether there was or was not any collusion (as alleged) or whether it was simply a case of poor governance by the State. The fact remains that possession of the disputed land was not taken over or attempted to be taken over for decades and the issue was never raised when it should have been. To raise it now after a lapse of so many decades is unfair to Godrej, the other appellants, the institutions, the State and the residents of the tenements that have been constructed in the meanwhile.

72. Given this factual scenario, we agree that Section 2(f)
(iii) of the Private Forests Act is not intended to apply to notices that had passed their shelf-life and that only ‘pipeline notices’ issued in reasonably close proximity to the coming into force of the Private Forests Act were ‘live’ and could be acted upon.

Page 117 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc 73. In Hindustan Petroleum Corpn. Ltd. v. Darius Shapur Chenai this Court dealt with the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act and held that the legislation being an expropriatory legislation, it ought to be strictly construed since it deprives a person of his/her land. In this decision, reliance was placed on State of M.P. v. Vishnu Prasad Sharma and Khub Chand v. State of Rajasthan. The same rationale would apply to Section 2(f)(iii) of the Private Forests Act since it seeks to take away, after a few decades, private land on the ostensible ground that it is a private forest. Section 2(f)(iii) of the Private Forests Act must not only be reasonably construed but also strictly so as not to discomfit a citizen and expropriate his/her property.

74. The fact that the Private Forests Act repealed some sections of the Forest Act, particularly Sections 34A and 35 thereof is also significant. Section 2(f)(iii) of the Private Forests Act is in a sense a saving clause for pipeline notices issued under Section 35(3) of the Forest Act but which could not, for want of adequate time be either withdrawn or culminate in the issuance of a regulatory or prohibitory final notification under Section 35(1) of the Forest Act, depending on the objections raised by the land owner. Looked at from any point of view, it does seem clear that Section 2(f)(iii) of the Private Forests Act was intended to apply to ‘live’ and not stale notices issued under Section 35(3) of the Forest Act.” 77. These paragraphs are also relied upon by Mr. Chagla and Mr. Seervai as well.

78. These observations are in the context of the primary and principal question framed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court itself. Secondly, all these observations cannot be read, torn from the context and the factual background. M/s. Godrej continued to be owners of the lands, which the State identified and termed as private forests. The Hon’ble Supreme Court found from the record in M/s. Godrej’s case that it had derived title to these lands as a successor of the said Banaji. Banaji claimed these lands Page 118 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc under a lease from the Government of Bombay dating back to 1835. In relation to such lands, which were acquired by M/s.Godrej, their identification being of salsette lands, a contest was raised when that salsette estate came to be abolished by the act of Legislature. M/s. Godrej brought a suit and said that their estate cannot be brought within the purview of the Salsette Abolition Act of 1951. Godrej claimed declaration of title in its favour in the suit and urged that the Abolition Act will not take within its purview their lands. The State admitted this position by withdrawing its opposition or contrary stand and that is how consent terms were drawn between the parties, namely M/s. Godrej and Boyce and the State of Maharashtra. A consent decree was passed in pursuance of those agreed terms. Thus, way back in 1962 and much before the Act of 1975, the State Government gave up the contest and agreed and admitted that the owners of the land were M/s. Godrej. If it had done so in 1962, the State could not have relied upon a notice purportedly issued under section 35(3) of the Act of 1927 and claimed that these very lands are private forests and vests in the State Government by virtue of the Act of 1975. It is that part of the undisputed factual scenario, which enabled M/s. Godrej to argue that they are not in receipt of any notice under section 35(3) of the Act of 1927 and the State Government’s records, in fact, do not proclaim that Page 119 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc the notice was issued at all. Even if it was taken to be issued, it was never served and M/s.Godrej went as far as filing affidavit of one of its employee, who was in its service even in 1956-57. It is in these circumstances that all above observations are made and if one has to take them as a principle of law applicable to every case of the nature brought before us, it would mean total destruction of greens and forest cover in the State. It is not and cannot be the pronouncement of the highest court in the country that despite no resistance to the proceedings from the owners or their successors in title, challenge to a mutation entry made by the State Government and of the present nature can be raised in the year 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. These are thus a belated challenge to the concluded acts of the State Government. The Hon’ble Supreme Court has been careful in holding that given the factual scenario, it agrees with the contention of M/s. Godrej that section 2(f)(iii) of the Act of 1975 is not intended to apply to the notices that have passed their shelf life. The issue of stale notices was thus an observation and conclusion to fortify the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s interpretation of the legal provisions in question. It is that interpretation, which enabled the Hon’ble Supreme Court to overrule its earlier view in the case of Chintamani Gajanan Velkar (supra). It is to strengthen and fortify that conclusion and overruling of Chintamani Gajanan Velkar judgmnt Page 120 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc (supra) that the Hon’ble Supreme Court made all these observations and heavily relied upon. No assistance or support can be derived from these observations by the petitioners before us. They have, in their pleadings, made no positive assertions and of the nature made by M/s. Godrej and Boyce. Each of these petitioners have made guarded and, at times, vague statements about the issuance and service of the notices. True it is that the notices have not only to be issued, but served and proof of both, their service and receipt has to be produced. However, it cannot be forgotten that the records on which the State asserts that the erstwhile owners have accepted the Government’s action cannot be ignored and brushed aside at the instance of parties like the petitioners. The parties like the petitioners were nowhere on the scene and as clarified above, from the date of issuance of the notices till the appointed day, namely, 30th August, 1975. The notices have been issued in 1961 in most of the cases. The notices have been also served is the clear assertion of the State Government, based on official documents or contemporaneous record such as communications from the District Collectorate to the Revenue and Forest Department and particularly the communications from the Chief Conservator of Forest. There is a village-wise data arranged and with specific survey numbers. This data reveals that the lands situate and located in the Page 121 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc concerned villages were already identified as private forests. It is only the consequential steps or measures, namely, to mutate or enter the name of the State Government/Forest Department or an entry relating to forest remained to be carried out. That be done expeditiously is the direction from one statutory authority to its subordinate so that these lands are not claimed by those who are out to exploit their commercial potential. These are huge tracts of land. The villages near Pune have become accessible because of development of roads and other infrastructure. Naturally, there is temptation to develop these lands by constructing high rise buildings and sell the units or flats therein and therefore, unscrupulous parties have prepared documents such as power of attorney or agreement for sale or conveyance deeds showing the names not of erstwhile owners, but of those who claim that the erstwhile owners transferred these lands to them and which, in turn, are made over to the petitioners before us. Pertinently, these claimants or persons rely on documents drawn up much after the date of vesting of these lands as private forests in the State Government. Hence, the State Government says and rightly so that all of them had lost their right, title and interest in the lands on the appointed day. Now, a consequential ministerial or administrative act being allegedly not performed earlier, then, after it is performed, it is not open for the petitioners to claim Page 122 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc these lands, much less develop them. Once their status is of a private forest vesting in the State Government, then, none of the petitioners could have ever claimed these lands. Their claim being founded on suspicious and doubtful assertions, that cannot be accepted is the stand of the State Government and we have no hesitation in accepting it.

79. Mere reliance upon the judgment in the case of Godrej and Boyce (supra) will not enable each of these petitioners to reopen the concluded proceedings or nullify the effect of vesting of these private forests in the State Government. A mutation entry in its favour is not the only basis on which the State is asserting that these are private forests. Rather, its argument is that the mutation entry was carried out belatedly and on account of inaction of the Revenue officials., who were from time to time pulled up by their higher officials and the State Government’s Forest Department. That act was not performed for decades together, but came to be performed in the year 2002 does not mean that the State’s assertion about its title is based on only these revenue entries. The assertion is based on public documents and official records, which long precede the consequential revenue entries. It is well settled that a mutation entry or a revenue entry is not a document of title, much less a Page 123 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc conclusive proof thereof. It is the prior or preceding declaration of its title, which would enable the State Government to enter the remark “private forest” in the revenue records in relation to these lands. That valid declaration of State’s title is apparent from the official records, presumption of validity, authenticity and legality is not rebutted by most of the petitioners before us. That is apparent from a reading of the memo of the petitions and the unclear, vague and ambiguous pleas therein. Once the petitioners could not and do not question the preceding lawful acts of the State Government, then, they have no right to challenge the revenue entries. If they are allowed to challenge them belatedly and that too on the basis of some general averments, then, we would be defeating an equally binding order of this court in a PIL. In PIL No. 17 of 2002, an order was passed by this court after hearing both sides on 25th October, 2004 in the following terms:- “1. Application for intervention is allowed. 2. The petitioner has filed this petition in which it is prayed that the work of rectification and/or updating of the land records be commenced in the State of Maharashtra and, specifically, the Record of Rights, in respect of all lands under private forests so as to reflect the acquisition and vesting of such lands in the State Government and completed expeditiously. From the previous orders it is abundantly clear that some directions have been given by the Court and despite the Court’s directions, the process of rectification and updating of the land records has not been completed. We direct the concerned Secretary of the State of Maharashtra to file a comprehensive affidavit dealing with updating of the land records in the State of Maharashtra. Looking to the gravity of the matter, we deem it appropriate to request the Page 124 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc Advocate General for the State to appear in this matter. Notice be sent to the Advocate General requesting him to appear on 8th September, 2004.

List this matter on 8th September, 2004.”

80. Pursuant to this order, the Government of Maharashtra issued a comprehensive circular on 16th December, 2004, which reads as under:-

“Violation of Section 2 of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, following the order passed by Collectors under Section 6 & 22A of Maharashtra Private Forests (Acquisition) Act, 1975, and approval from Government of India prior to issue of such order, by Collectors.

GOVERNMENT OF INDIA Circular No. FLD/1000/CR 243/F-3, Revenue & Forests Department, Mantralaya, Mumbai-400 032.
Dated the 16th December 2004 CIRCULAR Attention of all Collectors is invited to the Government of Maharashtra’s Letter No. FLD/1000/CR 243/F-3 dated 29- 8-2000 and Letter No. S-30/2001/CR-180/F-3 dated 1-11-2001 circulated earlier on the subject above. It has been found that in spite of all these communications, the Collectors/Deputy Collectors have been issuing certificates under Sections 6 and 22A under the provisions of Maharashtra Private Forests (Acquisition Act, 1975.

2. It is emphasised for the information of all concerned that the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, Section 2 provides that –

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 –
Page 125 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc (i) that any reserved forest (within the meaning of the expression “reserved forest” in any law for the time being in force in that State) or any portion thereof, shall cease to be reserved;

(ii) that any forest land or any portion thereof may be used for any non-forest purpose;

(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 organisation not owned, managed or controlled by Government;

(iv) that any forest land or any portion thrre of may be cleared of trees which have grown naturally in that land or portion, for the purpose of using it for reafforestation.

This being the Act of parliament, its provisions would override the provisions of Maharashtra Private Forests (Acquisition) Act, 1975. In view of this, it is clarified that no certificate should be issued under Section 6 of 22A of Maharashtra Private Forests (Acquisition) Act, 1975 unless approval from the Government of India is obtained under section 2 of Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980. This provision should be followed scrupulously. Violation, if any, in future should be dealt with strictly by initiating the departmental action against the concerned officer.

3. The Hon’ble Supreme Court in its judgment on 12-12- 1996 in the Writ Petition No. 202/95 & 171/96 T. N. Godavarman versus Union of India and others has removed all the ambiguity regarding the Section 2 of Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980. The Hon’ble Supreme Court made it clear that –

The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, was enacted with a view to check further deforestation which ultimately results in ecological imbalance; and, therefore, the provisions made therein for the conservation of forests and for matters connected therewith, must apply to all forests irrespective of the nature of ownership or classification thereof. The word “forest” must be understood according to its dictionary meaning. This description covers all statutorily recognised forests, whether designated as reserved, protected or otherwise for the purpose of …..
Page 126 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc 4. Hon’ble High Court of Bombay in its order on 10-10- 2001 in Writ Petition No. 2801/2001 has ordered that the Collector of the districts are directed not to issue any certificate under Section 6 of Maharashtra Private Forests (Acquisition) Act, 1975, without obtaining prior approval from Government of India under Section 2 of Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980. They shall also initiate proceedings for the recall/cancellation of all such certificates that they may have been issued in breach of Section 2 of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, after the same came into force. In view of this all the orders that have been passed under Section 6 of Maharashtra Private Forests (Acquisition) Act, 1975, will need revision and may be issued only after getting the approval from Government of India under Section 2 of Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980. This action should be taken in a time-bound manner.

5. Procedure for issuing this certificate under Section 6 and 22A of the Maharashtra Private Forests (Acquisition) Act, 1975, is prescribed as below:

(a) The Collector shall prepare the proposal and submit to the Government of India for seeking approval under Section 2 of Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, as per the procedure laid down under Rule 4 of Forest (Conservation) Rules, 1981.

(b) After receiving the approval from Government of India the Collector shall issue order under Section 6 and 22A of Maharashtra Private Forests (Acquisition) Act, 1975. By order and in the name of the Governor of Maharashtra, (Ashok Khot) Additional Chief Secretary (Forests)”

81. Since there was no compliance with this circular, another direction was issued in writing on 22 nd February, 2005 inviting the attention of all concerned that immediate entries be made in relation to the forest land in matters which are not pending and particularly in relation to those where there are no legal Page 127 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc proceedings pending, the name of the Forest Department be forthwith entered in the revenue records. There are further directions in order to effectively implement this court’s directions in PIL No. 17 of 2002. Then, on 22 nd June, 2005, this court passed a further order on this PIL. All mutation entries and subject matter of these petitions have thus been made much before filing of these petitions and pursuant to the binding orders and directions of this Court. They have a statutory backing and support as well. Nothing preceding or succeeding these entries is challenged by the owners of these lands.

82. It is thus apparent that this is not a collusion, as found in the case of Godrej and Boyce (supra). The Bombay Environment Action Group, the PIL petitioner alleged that there was a collusion between Godrej and the State Government to defeat the purpose of the Act. However, the Hon’ble Supreme Court in paras 70 and 71 of the judgment in the case of Godrej and Boyce (supra) found that this allegation was unfair to Godrej as for decades, this issue was never raised and there was no material in that behalf. However, before us, we have material to hold that the present petitions are nothing but an attempt to defeat and frustrate the Act of 1975. That all the erstwhile owners of these lands, which were identified as private forests, but vesting in the State Page 128 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc pursuant to the Act of 1975, accepted the genuineness, correctness and authenticity of the public documents and official record produced before us. There was never any challenge unlike M/s. Godrej and other cases, raised by them. These persons never proclaimed that there was no notice issued under section 35(3) of the Act of 1927 nor was it ever served on them. These persons never proclaimed that they had developed the lands and they are not forests at all. They accepted that there was a natural growth of trees and shrubs and these lands could safely assume the status or character of a forest. However, these were private forests and that is why the vesting of the same in the State Government was not possible until the Act of 1975 intervened. Merely because it intervened, it could have been invoked and applied to these private forests and the owners unless the statutory pre-requisites were complied with. To enable the State Government to acquire and vest the private forests in it, the Act of 1975 was invoked and the pre-requisite for the vesting was whether any steps or measures in relation to these lands were taken under the Central law, namely, the Act of 1927. Once there is proof of such steps being taken, as is evident in this case, by issuance of Gazette Notification and produced on record, there being no doubt about its existence, then, we have no hesitation in concluding that the vesting is final and complete. Every person’s Page 129 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc title to these forest lands was extinguished and by a process known to law and in compliance therewith.

83. Hence, it is as a afterthought that these petitions are brought by those having commercial interest and at their behest, it would be highly unsafe to reopen the matters. Our order should not result in total defeat and frustration of the comprehensive directions issued in the PIL. The anxiety of this court is to maintain the forest cover in the State. The anxiety of the PIL petitioners was found to be genuine and of substance. Their complaint was that the authorities are not implementing the binding orders and directions issued under valid powers conferred in them by the Act of 1975. Their inaction, utter neglect and at times collusion would totally deplete the forest cover in the State and we would witness total destruction of the greens and forests in the State. It is with that aim in mind, this court stepped in and issued these directions so as to effectively monitor and supervise the implementation of the law. We cannot by our orders contravene these comprehensive directions, based on which the Revenue entries have been made. It would be improper to rely upon the one sided version of the petitioners, some of whom are but builders and developers and negate binding directions of this court or enable the defeat and frustration Page 130 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc thereof. We are in agreement with Mr. Seervai that these petitions are not bona fide.

84. There is a writ petition being Writ Petition (O. S.) No. 853 of 2017 and the petitioners therein, unlike others, have specifically stated that the petition covers the following piece and parcels of land:-

“2. The petitioners are the absolute owners of several pieces of land situate at village Sai, Taluka Borivali, District Mumbai Suburban, including lands bearing:

(a) Survey No. 5, admeasuring 14 acres 8 gunthas;

(b) Survey No. 6 admeasuring 3 acres and 1¾ gunthas;

(c) Survey No. 10 admeasuring 2 acres and 19½ gunthas; and (d) Survey No. 11 admeasuring 1 acre and 13 gunthas 85. It is claimed that these are part of a larger parcel of land situated at village Sai, Taluka Borivali, district Mumbai Suburban, used by the petitioners and their ancestors for various agricultural operations from the past 80 years. The petitioners claim to have cultivated the lands also. At any rate, they are claiming that the ancestor of the petitioners was Dr.Eruchshaw Hakim. He acquired these lands under a deed of conveyance dated 23rd October, 1924. That is a registered deed of conveyance. Since that time till date, the lands have been in possession of the petitioners. Their title also was never in dispute and it is stated, Page 131 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc with reference to Exhibit “A-1” to Exhibit “A-4”, which are copies of the 7X12 extracts in relation to these lands, that one Dhanjishah Jehangir, the husband of the first petitioner and the father of the second petitioner, who expired, are reflected therein. It is only in the year 2014, the petitioners noticed Mutation Entry No. 25 recorded in respect of the subject lands. The said mutation entry referred to the following orders, communications, circulars and show cause notices:-

“(i) Letter dated 22 February 2006 addressed by Deputy Conservator, Forest, Forest Department, Thane;

(ii) Circular dated 14 July 2005 issued by Revenue and Forest Department, State of Maharashtra;

(iii) Decision dated 9 July 2002 issued by Revenue and Forest Division;

(iv) Circular dated 19 July 2002 issued by Revenue and Forest Division;

(v) Circular dated 28 January 2003 of Commissioner, Konkan Division;

(vi) Order dated 24 May 2006 issued by Tahsildar, Borivali;

(vii) An alleged Order u/s 22A of the Private Forest Act, 1975 allegedly passed prior to 25 October 1980;

(viii) Four alleged Show Cause Notices presumably alleged to have been issued u/s 35(3) of the Forest Act, 1927 bearing WT/621 dated 23 April 1957; WT/622 dated 13 April 1957; WT/626 dated 24 April 1957; and WT/627 dated 24 April 1957.”

86. The petitioners say that there is nothing to show that in relation to these lands any notice under section 35(3) of the Act of 1927 was ever issued and/or served. It is stated that the
Page 132 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc petitioners’ name appear throughout and continues to appear as owners of these lands. Mutation Entry No. 25 dated 4 th May, 2006 is referred in para 10 and its copy is annexed as Exhibit “B- 1”. It is stated that several communications were addressed under the RTI, but they have not met with any response. The following are the details with regard to the communications/applications made from time to time by the petitioners:-

“(i) Application dated 2 June 2014 made by Navin Bhatia, Advocate to Tahsildar, Borivali;

(ii) RTI Application dated 16 June 2014 made to the Office of learned Tahsildar, Borivali;

(iii) RTI Application dated 16 June 2014 made to the office of learned Collector, Mumbai Suburban District, Bandra (East);

(iv) First Appeal dated 16 July 2014 under Section 19(1) of the Right to Information Act, 2005 made to the office of learned Tahsildar, Borivali;

(v) Application dated 23 may 2014 made to the Office of the Deputy Conservator of Forest;

(vi) First Appeal dated 8 August 2014 under Section 19(1) of the Right to Information Act, 2005 made to the Office of the Deputy Conservator of Forest.”

87. The reply to these communications was that relevant information is not available and/or not traceable. It is in these circumstances that the petitioners assert that the most relevant document, namely, copy of the show cause notice under section 35(3) of the Act of 1927 and the alleged order under section 22-A Page 133 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc of the Act of 1975 are not available in the records. Once these details are not provided, then, the argument is that with reference to a Register and its extract, the respondents cannot assert that the notices referred in this Register are those addressed to the petitioners/owners without indicating the proof of its service. It is claimed that the only communication is dated 20th January, 2017 (Exhibit ‘I’ to the petition), by which, the petitioners are informed that there is a report of Talithi, Sajja- Goregaon dated 12th January, 2017, which makes a reference to a Government Circular dated 14th July, 2005. It also makes a reference to the Judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Godrej and Boyce (supra). It is thus claimed that the benefit of this judgment would not be available to the petitioners and therefore, that mutation entry cannot be deleted. It is aggrieved by such actions that the instant petition has been filed. 88. An affidavit in reply has been placed on record, in which, respondent nos. 1 and 2 have categorically admitted that various files and records pertaining to action under the Act of 1975 are not traceable. That record is of 1959. Hence, that could not be traced and relied upon. However, in this affidavit, the deponents make the following positive statements:-

“4. ….. Although application of clause (iii) of Section 2(f) is not essential for acquisition, it is submitted, the notice under Page 134 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc Section 35(3) of Indian Forest Act, 1927 No. WT-621, dated 13.04.1957 for land admeasuring 14-08 Acre in Survey Number 5, WT-622, dtd. 13.04.1957 for land admeasuring 3- 01-0 Acre in Survey Number 6, No. WT-626, dated 24.04.1957 for land admeasuring 01-19-4 Acre in Survey Number 10 and WT-627, dtd. 24.04.1957 for land admeasuring 1-13-0 Acre in Survey Number 11 were issued to the then owner Shri Baimanije J. Ardesar Doctor. The copies of the relevant pages of the Register having entries of issuing notices for Survey No.5 and 6 Gazette Notifications for Survey No. 10 and 11 are annexed and marked as Exhibit-1 to 3. Notice shows that these Survey numbers are surrounded by Reserved Forest, hence, it is forest as per section 2(c-i) of Maharashtra Private Forests (Acquisition) Act, 1975.”

89. Thus, consistent with the above averments, it is claimed that the writ petition be dismissed. Exhibit-‘1’ to this affidavit in reply is claimed to be an extract of the register and it is stated that this denotes, together with Exhibit-‘2’ that the notice was duly issued and published in the Official Gazette as well. In the rejoinder affidavit, the petitioners have reiterated the factual position and stated that though these Exhibits ‘1’ and ‘2’ are referring to a copy of an alleged notice WT/626 dated 24 th April, 1957, the details are that this was served on one Baimanije J. Ardesar Doctor. It is stated that if this notice has been served purportedly on Mr. Baimanije at the address C/o. Francis Manvel, at post Marol via Andheri, that does not mean that it has been served on Baimanije. It is claimed that in terms of the judgment in the case of M/s. Godrej and Boyce (supra), reliance is placed only on the notice WT/627 in respect of Survey Nos. 10 and 11. The petitioners admit that Manijeh Ardeshir Doctor is the Page 135 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc maternal grandmother of petitioner no. 2, who was, at the material time, owner, inter alia, of Survey Nos. 10 and 11, but the notices themselves show that they were not issued to Manjieh Ardeshir Doctor, but to the C/o. Framcis Manvel. It is claimed that record is available to establish that Francis Manvel was a trespasser, who had no interest whatsoever in any of the lands, including land bearing Survey Nos. 10 and 11. However, there is no proof that the owner Manijeh Ardeshir Doctor received the alleged notices. In any event, there have been no steps taken in pursuance of these notices and that is how the law laid down in terms of Godrej and Boyce (supra) would squarely apply. In any event, it is stated that the lands bearing Survey Nos. 5 and 6 are forest and private forests. Thus, out of the lands involved in the petition, details of which are to be found in para 2, there is no record in relation to Survey Nos. 5 and 6 at all. The panchanana, copy of which is at Exhibit-‘5’ to the affidavit in reply would not establish the compliance with the pre-conditions stipulated by law. Hence, it is submitted that the writ petition be allowed. 90. We have heard petitioner no. 2 in-person and consistent with the pleadings, he has argued that petitioner no. 1-Siloo Mistri was born in 1926 and she has categorically averred that no notice under section 35(3) of the Act of 1927 has been served Page 136 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc ever on the petitioners or any member of their family. At material times i.e. 1924 till date, the petitioners and their family members have been in absolute possession of the lands covered by the deed of conveyance dated 23rd October, 1924. In any event, no steps have been taken by the Government, even if the Government seeks to rely upon the notices purportedly served and evidenced by Exhibits ‘1’ and ‘2’ of the affidavit in reply. These notices have never been followed up with a notification under section 35(1) of the Act of 1927. If the Government’s affidavit is to be relied upon, it is only in respect of two pieces i.e. Survey Nos. 10 and 11. A notice has been purportedly issued, but there is nothing in the affidavit in reply or the exhibits thereto, which would establish and prove that the notices were served on the owner of the land. The address mentioned on the notice itself is of a C/o. address and not that of Baimanije. It is in these circumstances that for more than 49 years, the Conservator of Forest has failed to act upon the notices in relation to Survey Nos. 10 and 11. With regard to other lands, there is absolutely no action taken at all. 91. We are of the view on a perusal of these pleadings and hearing the counsel of both sides, this is a peculiar case, where the petitioners are not claiming through some others styled as owners. In the other petitions, the owners have never complained Page 137 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc and lost right, title and interest in relation to the lands long before those subsequently stepping in. This is a case where both, the title and possession is claimed and it is stated that the subject lands are not forests. To our mind, this is a fit case to invoke section 6 of the Act of 1975, which reads as under:- “6. Where any question arises as to whether or not any forest is a private forest, or whether or not any private forest or portion thereof has vested in the State Government or whether or not any dwelling house constructed in a forest stands acquired under this Act, the Collector shall decide the question, and the decision of the Collector shall, subject to the decision of the tribunal in appeal which may be preferred to the tribunal within sixty days from the date of the decision of the Collector, or the order of the State Government under section 18, be final.”

92. We, therefore, direct the Collector, Mumbai Suburban District to decide two questions in terms of this provision, firstly, “whether any forest is a private forest or whether or not any private forest or portion thereof has vested in the State Government”. Secondly, the decision of the Collector shall abide by the further remedy stipulated in section 6 itself. We clarify that we have expressed no opinion on the rival contentions. This is a dispute distinct from others and is, therefore, fit to be decided by the Collector himself. There are several factual aspects involved and it is not possible in our limited jurisdiction to pronounce either way. In these circumstances, by clarifying that this order is passed in the peculiar facts and circumstances and restricted to Writ Petition (O. S.) No. 853 of 2017, we direct the
Page 138 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc Collector to conclude the inquiry as expeditiously as possible and in any event, within a period of six months from the date of the appearance of the petitioners before him. All contentions of both parties are kept open.

93. Finally, what remains to be considered is the reliance by almost all counsel on certain orders passed by this court. Dr.Sathe laid heavy emphasis on these orders. He would submit that in Writ Petition (O.S.) No. 2084 of 2013, decided on 26 th November, 2014 (Satelite Developers Limited and Anr. vs. State of Maharasthra and Ors.), this court upheld almost identical contentions of the petitioners. We do not think so. That writ petition was filed by Satelite Developers Limited and another against the State and seeking an appropriate writ, order or direction to the effect that the Act of 1975 has no application to their lands and for other consequential reliefs. This court, in para 4, noted that notices under section 35(3) of the Act of 1927 were issued sometime in 1956 in respect of the lands covered by that petition. However, after issuance of notices, no steps were taken for giving hearing to the owners of the lands and final notification under section 35(1) was never issued. Pursuant to the order passed by this court in a PIL, directions were given by the Government to alter revenue entries mentioning that the lands Page 139 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc were forest lands. It is in these circumstances, after noticing the law laid down in the case of Chintamani Gajanan Velkar (supra) and Godrej and Boyce (supra), this court held that the State Government filed an affidavit, but made no reference to the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Godrej and Boyce (supra). Further, there was an interim order in the writ petition. It is then claimed that the issue raised in the petition stands fully covered in terms of the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court for mere entries in the revenue records, based on directions of this court, would not indicate compliance with the pre-requisites. A proof of compliance of the pre-requisite steps or pre-conditions has to be produced. Mere reliance on issuance of a notice issued in the year 1956, therefore, would not suffice. Hence, the question was decided in the peculiar factual backdrop by following the judgment in the case of Godrej and Boyce (supra). Hence, this order is of no assistance to the petitioners before us. 94. In Writ Petition (L) No. 922 of 2015 filed on the Original Side of this court and decided on 18th June, 2018 (Ozone Land Agro Private Limited vs. State of Maharashtra and Ors. ), once again, the lands covered by this petition were sought to be acquired by relying on the Act of 1975. However, following the earlier order in the case of Satelite Developers Limited (supra) and holding that Page 140 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc mere entries in the register indicating issuance of a show cause notice would not establish and prove that the Act of 1975 is applicable, this writ petition was allowed. Thus, this case turns on its peculiar facts, which were undisputed. 95. Then, reliance is placed on several orders passed by a Bench presided over by the Hon’ble Mr. Justice A. S. Oka. For instance, in the case of Sinhagad Technical Education Society vs Deputy Conservator of Forest and Ors., decided on 3rd February, 2015 (Writ Petition No. 7235 of 2013). There, the court found that there were certain non-forest activities commenced and when action was sought to be taken against the petitioners, that writ petition was filed. In the affidavit in reply, it was stated that a notice under section 35(3) of the Act of 1927 was issued to the owner on 5th November, 1958 in relation to certain survey numbers. Hence, the claim was that these lands, which are private forests, are now covered by the Act of 1975. Therefore, reference was made to the proceedings against the petitioner. This court found from a perusal of the record and consideration of the rival contentions that the judgment and order in the case of Godrej and Boyce (supra) would apply. In para 22 of this judgment, it is clarified that the Bench has examined the issue raised only in the context of the contents of the impugned notice Page 141 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc dated 19th June, 2013 that the lands constitute private forest under the Act of 1975. That assertion was based on issuance of a notice dated 5th November, 1958 under section 35(3) of the Act of 1927. However, this court immediately clarified that it has not examined the question of applicability of the provisions of the Act of 1927 and the Act of 1980 on any other ground. The court made no adjudication on the status of the land except the issue whether the same are private forests in accordance with sub-clause (iii) of clause (f) of section 2 of the Act of 1927. It is stated that though reliance is placed on the issuance of notice to the owner, but no notification is issued under sub-section (1) of section 35 of the Act of 1927 in relation to the land. Apart therefrom, it is stated that reliance is placed only on the notice dated 5 th November, 1958, which does not relate to the land bearing Gat No. 310 at all and it relates to Gat No. 311 and Gat Nos. 313 and 314, with which the Bench was not concerned. Further, the Bench observed that no case is made out of the notice having been served on the predecessor in title of the petitioner. In the absence of proof of service of notice, the Act of 1975 would not be applicable to the land bearing Gat No. 311. Hence, this land cannot be said to be private forest. On the strength of the notice dated 5 th November, 1958, this land will not vest in the State Government under the Act of 1975. It is in these circumstances that the writ petition Page 142 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc was allowed. Once again, these are peculiar facts, but while allowing the writ petition, this court issued the following clarifications:-

“22. We must make it clear that we have examined the issues raised only in the context of the contention in the impugned notice dated 19th June, 2013 that the said lands constituted private forests under the said Act of 1975 on the basis of the notice dated 5th November, 1958 under sub- section (3) of section 35 of the said Act of 1927. We make it clear that we have not examined the question of applicability of the provisions of the said Act of 1927 and the said Act of 1980 on any other ground. We have made no adjudication on the status of the said lands except the issue whether the same are private forests in accordance with Sub-Clause (iii) of Clause (f) of Section 2 of the said Act of 1927. The finding recorded in this Judgment is only to the extent that the said lands bearing Gat Nos. 310 and 311 are not “private forests” within the meaning of Sub-Clause (iii) of Clause (f) of Section 2 of the said Act of 1975 and not vest in the State Government under section 3 of the said Act of 1975.”

96. The Bench presided over by Hon’ble Mr. Justice A. S. Oka, in its subsequent orders passed in Writ Petition No. 9969 of 2013 (Dr. Arjun Sitaram Nitanwar vs. The Tahsildar, District Thane and Ors.) as well found the factual position to be identical. There, the mutation entry in relation to the lands involved, showed the name of the Government of India in “possession” column through Investment Provident Company. The name of one Shri. G. G. Pradhan as the Manager of the said company also appeared in the “possession” column. The name of one Ashwin Chunilal Dalal appeared along with four others in column “other rights” and “cultivation” column. It is in these circumstances that the Page 143 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc another Mutation Entry No. 616 was made on 23 rd May, 2006 in relation to the said lands and that refers to a notice under section 35 of the Act of 1927. At the same time, it is stated that an enquiry under the Act of 1975 was pending. It is in these circumstances that the name of the State of Maharashtra was entered in the “possession” column in the place of Government of India and an entry as “reserved forest” was also made in the possession column. There is reliance placed by the petitioners on the letter dated 30th August, 2007 issued by the Assistant Conservator of Forest-cum-Public Information Officer of Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Borivali stating that the lands have not been transferred to the Forest Department. In the affidavit in reply, reliance is placed upon a circular dated 22nd February, 2005 and no proof of the notice dated 13th April, 1957 referable to section 35(3) of the Act of 1927 being served on the original owner, the controversy stands covered by the judgment in the case of Godrej and Boyce (supra). Yet, in the operative order, this court clarified that it has not made any adjudication on the question whether the Act of 1927 and the provisions of the Forest (Acquisition) Act, 1980 are otherwise applicable to the said land and that issue is expressly kept open. That is how the mutation entry challenged in the petition was directed to be deleted. Page 144 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc 97. Once again, in Writ Petition No. 10338 of 2014, decided on 7th January, 2016 (Nana Govind Gavate (since deceased) through legal heirs A to J and Ors. vs. State of Maharashtra and Ors. ), the issue was that notices had been issued, but there was no proof of service of the said notice. In that backdrop, this court negatived the contention of the Government, firstly that there is an alternate equally efficacious remedy available to the petitioners and secondly that the lands are private forests covered by the Act of 1975. In fact, there was enough evidence to the contrary and this court referred to the arguments of the petitioners therein that the lands were under cultivation, which fact is acknowledged by the revenue authorities. Thus, this is also an order passed on facts and therefore, clearly distinguishable from the present cases.

98. In Writ Petition No. 9537 of 2014, decided on 12 th January, 2016 (Lalit A. Sangtani vs. State of Maharashtra and Ors ), once again the Bench presided over by Hon’ble Mr. Justice A. S. Oka relied upon the peculiar factual position of non-production of proof relating to service of the notice under section 35(3) of the Act of 1927. Another peculiar aspect was that the copy of the notice produced before this court was undated and stated to be of the year 1975. That was issued to one Babu Jadhav. In these Page 145 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc circumstances, with similar clarification as above, that writ petition was disposed of.

99. Then, in other batch of petitions, above orders of Division Benches presided over by Hon’ble Mr. Justice V. M. Kanade and the Hon’ble Mr. Justice A. S. Oka followed, but there has been no principle of law discussed. There is nothing, which would enable us to hold that these judgments take a view that the law laid down in the judgment of Godrej and Boyce (supra) would apply irrespective of the stand taken before us by the respondents and noted above. In these circumstances, none of these orders are of any assistance to the petitioners before us.

100. The reliance on a Full Bench judgment of this court in the case of Janu Chandra Waghmare and Ors. vs. The State of Maharashtra and Ors.4 and several paragraphs thereof would indicate that this court upheld the constitutional validity of the law and did not in any manner go beyond such of the issues, as were raised concerning the validity and legality of its provisions. We do not think that this judgment can be of any assistance to the petitioners. More so, when it is also referred in the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Godrej and Boyce (supra).

4 AIR 1978 Bombay 119
Page 146 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc 101. Dr. Sathe sought to place reliance on a judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court rendered in the case of Government of NCT of Delhi vs. Manav Dharam Trust and Anr.5. We do not see how this judgment has any application to the facts of the present case. There, the controversy was whether a transferee of the land, after publication of preliminary notification can maintain a writ petition challenging the acquisition for all of them have a interest in the property/land sought to be acquired. Therefore, mere repeal of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 does not mean that subsequent purchasers cannot claim compensation on such acquisition being complete and valid. The subsequent purchasers can claim compensation, being “persons interested” despite having no locus standi to challenge the acquisition proceedings. We do not see any similarity in the issue decided by the Hon’ble Supreme Court to the issue before us.

102. Mr. Chagla relied upon the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of M/s. Mahalakshmi Oil Mills versus State of Andhra Pradesh6. This judgment is also on the point as to how the statutory definitions employing the words “means” and “includes” have to be interpreted. Pertinently, these words, when appearing in a definition section, the principle would be as set out 5 (2017) 6 SCC 751
6 (1989) 1 SCC 164
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J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc in this judgment and the judgments following it and that it may afford an exhaustive explanation of the meaning, which, for the purpose of the Act, must invariably attach to these words or expressions. The attempt of Mr. Chagla was to reinforce his argument that outside the Act of 1975 and particularly section 2(f), there is nothing like a private forest and that private forest for being covered by the Act of 1975, must comply with the sub- clauses of this clause (f) of section 2 of the Act of 1975. While the section, which is a definition section may contain these expressions “means” and “includes”, but we are, therefore not called upon to construe and interpret the definition. We are only called upon to decide as to whether the assertion of the petitioners that the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Godrej and Boyce (supra) would cover the controversy. We have held above that the petitioners before us, save and except two or three cases, cannot derive any benefit from the judgment in the case of Godrej and Boyce (supra). Beyond that, we have not rendered any positive declaration. Not all the petitioners can rely on the judgment in the case of Godrej and Boyce (supra). 103. For the reasons recorded hereinabove, we are of the view that in all these writ petitions, the following order should be passed:-

Page 148 of 149
J.V.Salunke,PA Final Judgment-WP.4814.2016+.doc (i) Rule in Appellate Side Writ Petition Nos. 12542 of 2015, 11382 of 2016 and Original Side Writ Petition No.853 of 2017 is made partly absolute in terms of the above discussion and ultimate direction.

(ii) Rule in all other writ petitions is discharged. 104. All the writ petitions are disposed of. There would be no order as to costs.

105. In the light of the disposal of the writ petitions, all the pending civil applications stand disposed of. Digitally signed by Jayant
Jayant Vishwanath
Vishwanath Salunke
Salunke Date: 2018.09.28 13:45:32 +0530 (P. D. NAIK, J.) (S. C. DHARMADHIKARI, J.) Page 149 of 149 J.V.Salunke,PA

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