K.T.Sangameswaran

CHENNAI: As held by the Supreme Court, the term ‘crop’ will mean only product of soil grown and raised yearly and gathered during single season, the Madras High Court has said.

The controversy in a case before the High Court revolved round the interpretation of the term ‘crop’ found in the Tamil Nadu Forest Act and rules and whether it will include trees in a reserve forest. The question was if the term ‘crop’ included trees, whether a person who had encroached on reserve forest land had a vested right to cut and remove them. Petitioner V.Govindasamy was occupying seven acres in T.Edayar village in Villupuram district, classified as ‘Malattar Poromboke,’ which was notified by the State government in November 1979 as forest land. Subsequently, by a notification in 1985, it was declared as reserve forest. He prayed the court to call for the records relating to an order of the District Forest Officer, Villupuram district, of August last year and quash the same.

Dismissing the petition, Justice K.Chandru said if the petitioner’s contention was accepted, it meant that a trespasser, who deliberately and wrongfully entered a reserve forest (which itself was an offence), could also get reward by removing the trees on the said land.

If the petitioner was allowed to cut all the casuarina trees on the four acres of land in the reserve forest, it would defeat the very purpose of having a green cover in that area. The petition was misconceived and lacked merits, he said.

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