The forest act, 1927 (act no. XVI of 1927)




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THE FOREST ACT, 1927
(ACT NO. XVI OF 1927).

[21st September, 1927]

1 An Act to consolidate the law relating to forests, the transit of forest-produce and the duty leviable on timber and other forest-produce.

WHEREAS it is expedient to consolidate the law relating to forests, the transit of forest-produce and the duty leviable on timber and other forest-produce; It is hereby enacted as follows:-

CHAPTER I
PRELIMINARY

Short title and extent 1. (1) This Act may be called the Forest Act, 1927.


2[ (2) It extends to the whole of Bangladesh.]
(3) [Omitted by the Bangladesh Laws (Revision And Declaration) Act, 1973 (Act No. VIII of 1973), section 3 and 2nd Schedule.]

Interpretation clause

2. In this Act, unless there is anything repugnant in the subject or context,-
(1) "cattle" includes elephants, camels, buffaloes, horses, mares, geldings, ponies, colts, fillies, mules, asses, pigs, rams, ewes, sheep, lambs, goats and kids;
(2) "Forest-officer" means any person whom the Government or any officer empowered by the Government in this behalf, may appoint to carry out all or any of the purposes of this Act or to do anything required by this Act or any rule made thereunder to be done by a Forest-officer;
(3) "forest-offence" means an offence punishable under this Act or under any rule made thereunder;
(4) "forest-produce" includes
(a) the following whether found in, or brought from, a forest or not, that is to say:
timber, charcoal, cuatchouc, catechu, wood-oil, resin, natural varnish, bark, lac, mahua flowers, mahua seeds, kuth and myrabolams, and
(b) the following when found in or brought from, a forest, that is to say:
(i) trees and leaves, flowers and fruits, 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 and skins, tusks, horns, bones, silk, cocoons, honey, and wax, and al other parts of produce of animals, and
(iv) peat, surface, soil, rock and minerals (including limestone, laterite, mineral oils and all products of mines or quarries);
3[ (4A) "owner" includes a Court of Wards in respect of property under the superintendence or charge of such court;]
(5) "river" includes any stream, canal, creek or other channels, natural or artificial;
(6) "timber" includes trees when they have fallen or have been felled, and all wood whether cut up or fashioned or hollowed out for any purpose or not; and
(7) "tree" includes palms, bamboos, stumps, brushwood and canes.

CHAPTER II


OF RESERVED FORESTS

Power to reserve forests

3. The Government may constitute any forest-land or waste-land 4[ or any land suitable for afforestation] which is the property of Government, or over which the Government has proprietary rights, or to the whole or any part of the forest-produce of which the Government is entitled, a reserved forest in the manner hereinafter provided.

Notification by Government

4. (1) Whenever it has been decided to constitute any land reserved forest, the Government shall issue a notification in the official Gazette
(a) declaring that it has been decided to constitute such land a reserved forest;
(b) specifying, as nearly as possible, the situation and limits of such land; and
(c) appointing an officer (hereinafter called "the Forest Settlement-officer") to inquire into and determine the existence, nature and extent of any rights alleged to exist in favour of any person in or very any land comprised within such limits, or in or over any forest-produce, and to deal with the same as provided in this Chapter.
Explanation.-For the purposes of Clause (b), it shall be sufficient to describe the limits of the forest by roads, rivers, ridges or other well-known or readily intelligible boundaries.
(2) The officer appointed under clause (c) of sub-section (1) shall ordinarily be a person not holding any forest-office except that of Forest Settlement-officer.
(3) Nothing in this section shall prevent the Government from appointing any number of officers not exceeding three, not more than one of whom shall be a person holding any forest-office except as aforesaid, to perform the duties of a Forest Settlement-officer under this Act.

Bar of accrual of forest rights

5. After the issue of a notification under section 4, no right shall be acquired in or over the land comprised in such notification, except by succession or under a grant or contract in writing made or entered into by or on behalf of the Government or some person in whom such right was vested when the notification was issued; and no fresh clearings for cultivation or for any other purpose shall be made in such land except in accordance with such rules as may be made by the Government in this behalf.

Proclamation by Forest Settlement officer

6. When a notification has been issued under section 4, the Forest Settlement-officer shall publish in 5[ Bengali] in every town and village in the neighbourhood of the land comprised therein, a proclamation-
(a) Specifying, as nearly as possible, the situation and limits of the proposed forest;
(b) explaining the consequences which, as hereinafter provided, will ensue on the reservation of such forest; and
(c) fixing a period of not less than three months 6[ and not more than four months] from the date of such proclamation, and requiring every person claiming any right mentioned in section 4 or section 5 within such period either to present to the Forest Settlement-officer a written notice specifying or to appear before him and state, the nature of such right and the amount particulars of the compensation (if any) claimed in respect thereof.

Inquiry by Forest Settlement officer

7. The forest settlement-officer shall take down in writing all statements made under section 6, and shall at some convenient place inquire into all claims duly preferred under that section, and the existence of any rights mentioned in section 4 or section 5 and not claimed under section 6 so far as the same may be as certainable from the records of Government and the evidence of any persons likely to be acquainted with the same.

Powers of Forest Settlement-officer

8. For the purpose of such inquiry, the Forest Settlement officer may exercise the following powers, that is to say:-
(a) power to enter, by himself or any officer authorized by him for the purpose, upon any land, and to survey, demarcate and make a map of the same; and
(b) the powers of a Civil Court in the trail of suit.

Extinction of rights

9. Rights in respect of which no claim has been preferred under section 6, and of the existence of which no knowledge has been acquired by inquiry under section 7, shall be extinguished, unless, before the notification under section 20 is published, the person claiming them satisfies the Forest Settlement-officer that he had sufficient cause for not preferring such claim within the period fixed under section 6.

Treatment of claims relating to practice of shifting cultivation

10. (1) In the case of a claim relating to the practice of shifting cultivation, the Forest Settlement-officer shall record a statement setting forth the particulars of the claim and of any local rule or order under which the practice is allowed or regulated, and submit the statement to the Government, together with his opinion as to whether the practice would be permitted or prohibited wholly or in part.
(2) On receipt of the statement and opinion, the Government may make and order permitting or prohibiting the practice wholly or in part.
(3) If such practice is permitted wholly or in part, the Forest Settlement-officer may arrange for its exercise
(a) by altering the limits of the land under settlement so as to exclude land of sufficient extent, of a suitable kind, and in a locality reasonably convenient for the purposes of the claimants, or
(b) by causing certain portions of the land under settlement to be separately demarcated, and giving permission to the claimants to practice shifting cultivation therein under such conditions as he may prescribe.
(4) All arrangements made under sub-section (3) shall be subject to the previous sanction of the Government.
(5) The practice of shifting cultivation shall in all cases be deemed a privilege subject to control, restriction and abolition by the Government.

Power to acquire land over which right is claimed

11. (1) In the case of a claim to a right in or over any land other than a right-of-way or right of pasture, or a right to forest-produce or a water-course, the Forest Settlement-officer shall pass an order admitting or rejecting the same in whole or in part.
(2) If such claim is admitted in whole or in part, the Forest Settlement-officer shall either-
(i) exclude such land from the limits of the proposed forest; or
(ii) come to an agreement with the owner thereof for the surrender of his rights; or
(iii) proceed to acquire such land in the manner provided by the 7[ Acquisition and Requisition of Immovable Property Ordinance, 1982 (II of 1982)].
(3) For the purpose of so acquiring such land
(a) the Forest Settlement-officer shall be deemed to be a Collector proceeding under the 8[ Acquisition and Requisition of Immovable Property Ordinance, 1982 (II of 1982)].
(b) the claimant shall be deemed to be a person interested and appearing before him in pursuance of a notice given under section 9 of that Act;
(c) the provisions of the preceding sections of that Act shall be deemed to have been complied with; and
(d) the Collector, with the consent of the claimant, or the Court, with the consent of both parties, may award compensation in land, or partly in land and partly in money 9[ , or wholly in money].

Order on claims to rights of pasture or to forest-produce

12. In the case of a claim to rights of a pasture or to forest-produce, the Forest Settlement-officer shall pass an order admitting or rejecting the same in whole or in part.

Record to be made by Forest Settlement-officer

13. The Forest Settlement-officer, when passing any order under section 12, shall record, so far as may be practicable,-
(a) the name, father's name, caste, residence and occupation of the person claiming the right; and
(b) the designation, position and area of all fields or groups of fields (if any), and the designation and position of all buildings (if any) in respect of which the exercise of such rights is claimed.

Record where the admits claim

14. If the Forest Settlement-officer admits in whole or in part any claim under section 12, he shall also record the extent to which the claim is so admitted, specifying the number and description of the cattle which the claimant is from time to time entitled to graze in the forest, the season during which such pasture is permitted, the quantity of timber and other forest-produce which he is from time to time authorized to take or receive, and such other particulars as the case may require. He shall also record whether the timber or other forest-produce obtained by the exercise of the rights claimed may be sold or bartered.

Exercise of rights admitted

15. (1) After making such record the Forest Settlement-officer shall, to the best of his ability, and having due regard to the maintenance of the reserved forest in respect of which the claim is made, pass such orders as will ensure the continued exercise of the rights so admitted.
(2) For this purpose the Forest Settlement-officer may
(a) set out some other forest-tract of sufficient extent, and in a locality reasonably convenient, for the purposes of such claimants, and record an order conferring upon them a right of pasture or to forest-produce (as the case may be) to the extent so admitted; or
(b) so alter the limits of the proposed forest as to exclude forest-land of sufficient extent, and in a locality reasonably convenient, for the purposes of the claimants; or
(c) record an order, continuing to such claimants a right of pasture or to forest-produce, as the case may be, to the extent so admitted, as such seasons, within such portions of the proposed forest, and under such rules, as may be made in this behalf by the Government.

Commutation of rights

16. In case the Forest Settlement-officer finds it impossible, having due regard to the maintenance of the reserved forest, to make such settlement under section 15 as shall ensure the continued exercise of the said rights to the extent so admitted, he shall, subject to such rules as the Government may make in this behalf, commute such rights, by the payment to such persons of a sum of money in lieu thereof, or by the grant of land, or in such other manner as he thinks fit.

Time limit for resolution of claims

10[ 16A. (1) Within 12 months after the period fixed under section 6 has elapsed, or within 12 months after the enactment of this section, whichever is later, the Forest Settlement Officer shall do one of the following:-
(i) dispose of all claims made under sections 6 and 9; or
(ii) obtain an extension of this 12 months deadline under sub-section (2).
(2) Upon application of a Forest Settlement Officer, the Deputy Commissioner may grant a single 2 months extension of the deadline in sub-section (1), making the deadline 14 months, and if that extended deadline threatens to be missed, the Commissioner may grant additional 4 months extensions.]

Appeal from order passed under section 11, section 12, section 15 or section 16

11[ 17. Any person who has made a claim under this Act, or any Forest-officer or other person generally or specially empowered by the Government in this behalf, may, within three months from the date of the order passed on such claim by the Forest Settlement-officer under section 11, section 12, section 15 or section 16, present an appeal from such order to the Divisional Commissioner concerned.

Appeal under section 17

18.(1) [Omitted by section 3 of the Forest (Amendment) Act, 2000 (Act No. X of 2000).]
12[ (2)(a) An appeal shall be heard by the Divisional Commissioner in the manner prescribed for the time being for the hearing of appeals in matters relating to land-development tax and the appeal shall be disposed of within 6 months from the date of presenting it under section 17.
(b) The Divisional Commissioner shall report to the Government the particulars of the cases which could not be disposed by him within the time prescribed in clause (a), where upon the Government may extend time as deemed necessary.]
(3) The order passed on the appeal by the Divisional Commissioner shall, subject only to revision by the Government, be final.]

Pleaders

19. The Government, or any person who has made a claim under this Act, may appoint any person to appear, plead and act
on its or his behalf before the Forest Settlement-officer, or 13[ the Divisional Commissioner], in the course of any inquiry or appeal under this Act.

Notification declaring forest reserved

20. (1) When the following events have occurred, namely:-
(a) the period fixed under section 6 for preferring claims has elapsed, and all claims, if any, made under that section or section 9 have been disposed of by the Forest Settlement-officer;
(b) if any such claims have been made, the period limited by section 17 for appealing from the orders passed on such claims has elapsed, and all appeals (if any) presented within such period have been disposed of by the 14[ Divisional Commissioner]; and
(c) all lands (if any) to be included in the proposed forest, which the Forest Settlement-officer has, under section 11, elected to acquire under the 15[ Acquisition and Requisition of Immovable Property Ordinance, 1982 (II of 1982), have become vested in the Government under section 11 of that Ordinance],
the Government shall publish a notification in the official Gazette, specifying definitely, according to boundary-marks erected or otherwise, the limits of the forest which is to be reserved, and declaring the same to be reserved from a date fixed by the notification.
(2) From the date so fixed such forest shall be deemed to be a reserved forest.

Publication of translation of such notification in neighbourhood of forest

21. The Forest-officer shall, before the date fixed by such notification, 16[ cause it] to be published in every town and village in the neighbourhood of the forest.

Power to revise arrangement made under section 15 or section 18

22. The Government may, within five years from the publication of any notification under section 20, revise any arrangement made under section 15 or section 18, and may for this purpose rescind or modify any order made under section 15 or section 18, and direct that any one of the proceedings specified in section 15 be taken in lieu of any other of such proceedings, or that the rights admitted under section 12 be commuted under section 16.

No right acquired over reserved forest, except as here provided

23. No right of any description shall be acquired in or over a reserved forest except by succession or under a grant or contract in writing made by or on behalf of the Government or some person in whom such right was vested when the notification under section 20 was issued.

Rights not to be alienated without sanction

24. (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in section 23, no right continued under clause (c) of sub-section (2) of section 15 shall be alienated by way of grant, sale, lease, mortgage or otherwise, without the sanction of the Government:
Provided that, when any such right is appendant to any land or house, it may be sold or otherwise alienated with such land or house.
(2) No timber or other forest-produce obtained in exercise of any such right shall be sold or bartered except to such extent as may have been admitted in the order recorded under section 14.

Power to stop ways and water-courses in reserved forests

25. The Forest-officer may, with the previous sanction of the Government or of any officer duly authorized by it in this behalf, stop any public or private way or water-course in a reserved forest, provided that a substitute for the way or water-course so stopped, which the Government deems to be reasonably convenient, already exists, or has been provided or constructed by the Forest-officer in lieu thereof.

Acts prohibited in such forests

26. 17[ (1) Any person who, in a reserved forest-
(a) kindles, keeps or carries any fire except at such seasons as the Forest-Officer may notify in this behalf.
(b) trespasses or pastures cattle, or permits cattle to trespass;
(c) causes any damage by negligence in felling any tree or cutting or dragging any timber;
(d) quarries stone, burns lime or charcoal, or collects, subjects to any manufacturing process, or removes, any forest produce other than timber;
or who enters a reserved forest with fire arms without prior permission from the Divisional Forest Officer concerned, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months and shall also be liable to fine which may extend to two thousand Taka, in addition to such compensation for damage done to the forest as the convicting Court may direct to be paid.
(1A) Any person who
(a) makes any fresh clearing prohibited by section 5; or
(b) removes any timber from a reserved forest; or
(c) sets fire to a reserved forest, or, in contravention of any rules made by the Government in this behalf, kindles any fire, or leaves any fire burning, in such manner as to endanger such a forest;
or who, in a reserved forest
(d) fells, girdles, lops, taps or burns any tree or strips off the bark or leaves from or otherwise damages, the same;
(e) clears or breaks up any land for cultivation or any other purpose 18[ or cultivates or attempts to cultivate any land in any other manner];
(f) in contravention of any rules made in this behalf by the Government, hunts, shoots, fishes, poisons water or sets traps or snares; or
(g) establishes saw-pits or saw-benches or converts trees into timber without lawful authority,
shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years and shall not be less than six months, and shall also be liable to fine which may extend to fifty thousand Taka and shall not be less than five thousand Taka, in addition to such compensation for damage done to the forest as the convicting Court may direct to be paid.]
(2) Nothing in this section shall be deemed to prohibit
(a) any act done by permission in writing of the Forest-officer, or under any rule made by the Government; or
(b) the exercise of any right continued under clause (c) of sub-section (2) of section 15, or created by grant or contract in writing made by or on behalf of the Government under section 23.
(3) Whenever fire is caused wilfully or by gross negligence in a reserved forest, the Government may (notwithstanding that any penalty has been inflicted under this section) direct that in such forest or any portion thereof the exercise of all rights of pasture or to forest-produce shall be suspended for such period as it thinks fit.

Power to declare forest no longer reserved

27. (1) The Government may, by notification in the official Gazette, direct that, from a date fixed by such notification, any forest or any portion thereof reserved under this Act shall cease to be a reserved forest.
(2) From the date so fixed, such forest or portion shall cease to be reserved; but the rights (if any) which have been extinguished therein shall not revive in consequence of such cessation.

CHAPTER III


19 OF VILLAGE-FORESTS AND SOCIAL FORESTRY

Formation of village forests 28. (1) The Government may assign to any village community the rights of Government to or over any land which has been constituted a reserved forest, and may cancel such assignment. All forests so assigned shall be called village forests.


(2) The Government may make rules for regulating the management of village-forests, prescribing the conditions under which the community to which any such assignment is made may be provided with timber or other forest-produce or pasture, and their duties for the protection and improvement of such forest.
(3) All the provisions of this Act relating to reserved forests shall (so far as they are not inconsistent with the rules so made) apply to village-forests.

Social Forestry

20[ 28A. (1) On any land which is the property of the Government or over which the Government has proprietory rights, and on any other land assigned to the Government by voluntary written agreement of the owner for the purpose of afforestation, conservation or management through social forestry, the Government may establish a social forestry programme under sub-section (2).
(2) A social Forestry programme is established when the Government by one or more written agreements assigns rights to forest-produce or rights to use the land, for the purposes of social forestry, to person assisting the Government in management of the land.
(3) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, agreements under sub-section (2) concerning Government-owned lands need not be registered in the local records of right to lands, and no party to such an unregistered agreement
may be divested of rights solely by execution of a subsequent assignment of rights by the Government to another person.
(4) The Government may make rules to set out standards for social forestry agreements and programme, and such standards shall at a minimum
(i) require agreements to include or make reference to an agreed-upon management plant for the social forestry programme;

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