Kerala High Court, on Wednesday, disposed of its oldest case, which was 33 years old. The proceedings in the case, in fact, spanned over more than a century.
The Appeal before the Court had assailed a judgment passed by the District Court, Ernakulam, which had declared that the proposed notified lands could not be declared as reserve forests under the Travancore Forest Act (Act II) of 1068. The notifications related to the proposed Alapra, Valiyakavu and Karikattoor Reserves.
The State had challenged this decision, while the claimants had produced documents supporting their title to the land in question. The ‘Neets’ relied on by the claimants were more than 100 years old and hence, the Court relied on “circumstantial evidence” to conclude that the lands did, in fact, belong to the claimants.
The Court then noted that the proceedings commenced under the 1068 Act would continue and survive under the Kerala Forest Act, 1961. The issue now posed before the Court was whether the notified lands are “lands at the disposal of the Government” as defined under the 1961 Act.
Answering the question in the negative, the Bench comprising Justice V. Chitambaresh and Justice Sathish Ninan confirmed the impugned judgment relating to the proposed Alapra and Valiyakavu Reserve, but set aside the finding with regard to Karikattoor Reserve, observing that it was not the subject matter of the proceedings.