Badri Prasad v. State of Madhya Pradesh & Anr.
1969 SCR (2) 380
The appellant (A) entered into a contract in respect of certain forests and became entitled to cut teak trees with some specifications.After a legislation vesting the estate in the State, A was prohibited from cutting timber in exercise of his rights under the contract. On Feb, 1, the State said that A’s claim to cut trees would be considered only if he gave up his claim to a sum of Rs. 17,000 which he had already paid under the contract and was willing to pay a further sum of Rs. 17,000 to the state. On February 5, 1955, A expressed his willingness to pay the additional sum but reserved his right to claim a refund of the first sum. The State rejected A’s right to cut trees. A then filed a Suit claiming specific performance of the contract.
ISSUE: Whether the property was vested in the state by the Act or transferred to the Appellant?
- The forest and trees did not vest in the State under the Act
- Even if they vested, the standing timber, having been sold to A, did .not vest in the State
- In any event a new contract was completed on February 5, 1955, and the appellant was entitled to its specific performance.
Trial Court: Favoured the Appellant, A
High Court (MP): Allowed the appeal of the State and dismissed the suit brought by A.
SUPREME COURT (SIKRI, J.) (favoured the State)
- The forest and trees vested in the State under the Act.
- Under the contract A had not become the owner of the trees as goods. The property in the timber could pass to A only when the trees are felled, but before they were felled, the trees had vested in the State.
- Under the terms of the contract, there was no sale of the whole of the trees, and, it had to be ascertained which trees fell within the description of trees which the appellant was entitled to cut. Till that was done they were not ‘ascertained goods’ within s. 19 of the Sale of Goods Act 1930.
- Even if the letter of Feb 1 could be treated as an offer, there was no unconditional acceptance of the offer, because, there was a reservation by the appellant of his right to claim refund in his letter dated 5th Feb and hence there was no concluded contract.