Syed Shah Mohammed Quadri, J.
1. The petitioner belongs to a scheduled tribe. He resides in Sankada, Gudem Kothaveedhi Mandal, Visakhapatnam District. He claims that he is an agriculturist and owns twenty acres of land wherein there are tamarind trees. The produce of the tamarind trees is stated to be about 5,000 kgs. per year. On 31st July, 1989, the Forest Range Officer, Narsipatnam, the second respondent herein, with his staff, broke open the lock of the door of the house which was used by the petitioner as godown for storing tamarind and seized 90 bags of tamarind containing 4,345 kgs. of seeded tamarind and 1,184 kgs. of deseeded tamarind. The seizure was under panchanama dated 31-7-1989. The validity of the said seizure is questioned in this writ petition as being illegal and without jurisdiction.
2. The first respondent filed counter-affidavit stating inter alia that there is no proof that the petitioner has 93 tamarind trees in Sankada village. It is stated that, on information from the Thanadar of Yetigavarammapeta Forest Thana, on 31-7-1989, at about 2-30 AM, the Forest Range Officer, Narsipatnam, and his staff proceeded to enquire about the illegal transport of tamarind. The tamarind was said to be unloaded and kept in the house of one Shri Golusu Joga Rao which was locked. It is stated that the Forest Range Officer did not break open the lock. It is stated that Shri V. Appa Rao, Forester, recorded the statement. It is, however, submitted that under Section 14 of the Andhra Pradesh Minor Forest Produce (Regulation of Trade) Act, 1971, (for short 'the Act of 1971') the Forest Range Officer is empowered to seize the tamarind stored illegally and, therefore, the action is valid in law. It is denied that the tamarind was sold by the writ petitioner to the Girijan Corporation. It is added that the petitioner has admitted the offence in his statement dated 9-8-1989 and gave bank guarantee of rupees twenty thousand towards the payment of the compounding fees of Rs. 40,278/- worked out under the Rules. In the circumstances of the case, it is prayed that the writ petition be dismissed.
3. In the reply-affidavit filed by the petitioner, it is stated, inter alia, that in view of the provisions of Regulation 6 of the Andhra Pradesh Scheduled Areas Minor Forest Produce (Regulation of Trade) Regulations, 1979 (for short 'the Regulations of 1979'), Section 14 of the Act of 1971 has no application to the scheduled areas. Therefore, the seizure is unauthorised. The first respondent filed an additional counter-affidavit stating that the petitioner has no land and no tamarind trees and so, in the circumstances, it is concluded that the petitioner illegally collected and stored the tamarind which is included in the forest produce as per Section 68 read with Clause (9) (12) (1) of Section 2 of the Andhra Pradesh Forest Act, 1967 (for short 'the Act') and prayed that the writ petition be dismissed.
4. Shri A. Venkataramana, the learned senior counsel, contends that the power sought to be invoked under Section 14 of the Act of 1971 is not available to the respondents in view of Regulation 6 of the Regulations of 1979 and therefore the impugned action has to be declared as illegal and consequentially a direction for release of the tamarind may be given. The learned Government Pleader concedes that the provisions of the Act of 1971 are excluded by Regulation 6 of the Regulations of 1979 but contends that in view of the Andhra Pradesh Forest Act, 1967, tamarind falls within the meaning of 'forest produce' and, therefore, the authorities have the power to seize; he further contends that the seized goods do not belong to the petitioner and therefore, the authority was justified in seizing the same.
5. It is not disputed that Section 14 of the Act of 1971 empowers a forest officer, or a police officer, not below the rank of a Sub-Inspector, to seize minor forest produce and other property under Clause 3 of Sub-section (1) of that Section in the event of composition of offence in the prescribed manner. It is also not disputed that the seizure was effected in a scheduled area. We shall read Regulation 6 of the Regulations of 1979 which excludes the provisions of Act of 1971 to the scheduled areas.
"Act 4 of 1971 not to apply to the scheduled areas:-Nothing in the Andhra Pradesh Minor Forest Produce (Regulation of Trade) Act, 1971, shall apply to minor forest produce in the scheduled areas in respect of which the provisions of this Regulation apply."
6. From a perusal of the provisions extracted above, it is clear that Section 14 of the Act of 1971 will not apply to 'minor forest produce' within the meaning of that Act. It follows that the impugned seizure of tamarind purported to be under Section 14 of the Act of 1971 cannot but be declared to be without jurisdiction.
7. The next question is: Whether tamarind falls within the meaning of 'forest produce' under Section 2 (g) of the Andhra Pradesh Forest Act, 1967 ? It reads as follows:
'"Forest Produce' includes-
(1) The following whether found in, or brought from a forest or not, that is to say timber, bamboos, charcoal, rubber, cacutchour, catechu, wood oil, resin, natural varnish bark, lac, mahua flowers, mahua seeds, myrobalans, tumki leaves, rousa grass, rouwalfia serpentina, adda leaves:
(2)The following when found in, or brought from a forest, that is to say-
(i) trees, such leaves, flowers and fruits as may be prescribed and all other parts or produce not hereinbefore mentioned of trees;
(ii) plants not being trees (including grass, creepers, reeds and moss) and all parts or produce of such plants;
(iii) wild animals, wild birds, skins, tusks, horns, bones, silk cocoons, honey, wax, and all other parts or produce of animals and birds;
(iv) peat, surface soil, rock and minerals (including limestone and laterite) mineral oil and all products of mines or quarries; and
(3) Such other produce as may be prescribed,"
From a perusal of the above definition, it is clear that it is an inclusive one and that it takes in its fold the prescribed fruits only when they are found in or brought from a forest. Even accepting to the submission of the learned Government Pleader, for purposes of this case, that tamarind is within the prescribed fruits, from the facts in this case it is clear that the seized tamarind was not found in the forest nor was it brought from the forest. Therefore, tamarind does not fall within the meaning of 'forest produce' under Section 2 (g) and the seizure can not be justified under the Andhra Pradesh Forest Act, 1967.
8. In view of the fact that the case of the respondents in the panchanama as well as in the counter-affidavit is that the seized tamarind belongs to the petitioner, 1 cannot accept the contention of the learned Government Pleader that the petitioner is not the owner of the tamarind.
9. In these circumstances, the impugned seizure of the tamarind under the panachanama dated 31-7-1989 is declared illegal. As the goods have already been released on furnishing bank guarantee, the respondents are directed to return the bank guarantee furnished by the petitioner which shall stand discharged.
10. The writ petition is allowed with costs. Advocate's fee Rs. 300/-.