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Present: De Sampayo -J.
FERNANDO v. SAMARAWICKREMA.
285—C. R. Dandagamuwa, 4,683.
Trees cut from- road- reservation—Sale by Public Works Department—
Is permit, of Forest Officer necessary for removal- ? Action against
Forest Offic-er for da-mages for seizure and detention—Forest.
Ordinance, 1907, s. 24.
Some trees standing on ' a road reservation were mil by theDistrict Engineer and sold to the plaintiff,- who removed the samewithout the permission of the Forest Officer, though with the impliedpermission of the District Engineer and in good faith. The ForestOfficer seized and detained the timber and cart and bulls. Plaintiffbrought an action for damages.
Held, that the removal without a permit of the Forest Officer wasillegal, and that no action for damages lay against him.
T HE facts appear from the judgment.
H. V. Perera, for plaintiff, appellant.
Muthunayagam, for defendant, respondent.
February 1; 1922. De Sampayo J.—
This is a claim for damages for unlawful seizure and detention ofa quantity of firewood belonging to the plaintiff, together with thecart in which the firewood was being carried.' The District Engineerof Dandagamuwa cut down a number of shade trees standing on theroad reservation for the purpose of widening the road, and sold thetimber to the plaintiff, who bought the same for use at a brick kilnwhich he was working. . The plaintiff removed two or three cartloads of the timber, and when another cart load was being removed,the defendant, who is Forest Ranger, seized and detained the timberand the cart and bulls, on the ground that he had obtained no permit.The District Engineer who sold the timber impliedly permitted theplaintiff to remove it, and there is no doubt that the plaintiff actedin good faith, and suffered damage by the seizure and detention of thetimber and the cart. The question, however, is whether the plaintiff
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did not require a permit under the provisions of the Forest Ordinancefor the removal of the timber. The District Engineer purported to actin pursurance of the General Order No. 1,136 which is as follows: —
“ Road reservations, 1 chain in width, from the centre of all publicroads, being required for the protection and future wideningof such road, shall be in charge of public authorities underthe Road Ordinance or the Public Works Department, asthe case may be, and the removal or disposal of all timber’and forest produce therefrom shall be arranged solely bythat authority, ’*
A circular dated April 14, 1916, issued by the Director of PublicWorks with regard to removal of timber from road reservations issupposed to be in conflict with the above general order of Govern-ment. But when the two orders are closely examined, no real con-flict will be found to exist. The relevant portion of the circularis to this effect:—“ If it is desired to cut timber and remove it for useelsewhere, the Provincial Engineer, having first obtained theauthority of this office, should issue the necessary permit. Before thetimber is actually removed, however, the local officer of the ForestDepartment should be requested to stamp it and to endorse thepermit. This pfovides a special and perhaps an unnecessarily' cumbersome procedure, but it conserves the power of the ForestDepartment with regard to permits for the removal of timber. Thequestion really turns upon the effect to be given to a rule made bythe Governor in Council under section 24 (1) of the Forest Ordinance,No. 16 of 1907. That • section empowered the Governor to makeregulations, inter alia, for prohibiting the removal of timber withouta pass from an officer duly authorized to issue the same, and chapterV., rule 2, of the rules made by the Governor provides that “ noforest produce or timber shall be removed, except with a permitfrom the Forest Officer. ” It may be noted in this connection thatsub-section 2 of the above section of the Ordinance declares that inthat section the terms “ forest produce ” and “ timber ” shall,unless the context otherwise requires, include timber cut in anyland, whether the property of the Grown or any private individual.
I think that the plaintiff, though unintentionally and innocently,contravened the above rule in removing the timber in questionwithout a permit from the Forest Officer. There was a suggestionthat the defendant, the Forest Ranger, who knew of the sale by theDistrict Engineer and was shown the receipt, was actuated bypersonal feeling on account of a previous unpleasantness betweenhim and the plaintiff. This may not have been the case. In thecircumstances, however, I think his act was very * officious, but asit was lawful the plaintiff has no legal claim for damages. Thejudgment dismissing the action is therefore right.
The appeal is dismissed, with costs.
FERNANDO v. SAMARAWICKREMA