Artisans lose appeal over sandalwood

 
The full  bench of the Tribunal, headed by Justice Ashok Bhan stayed the State Commission order, following an appeal by the State Forest Department challenging KSDRC order dated April 1, 2010 to supply sandalwood for a period of three years from 2005-06.

The State Forest Department on May 23, 2005 entered into an agreement to supply 10 MT sandalwood a year for a period of three years from 2005-06, following a government decision.

However, the supply was subjected to the availability and the market price of the wood.
With market value fixed at Rs 880 a kg on June 13, 2005, the society was given at a discount of 50 percent for every kg  of sandalwood purchased by it.  The Government of Karnataka after looking at the overall auctioned price increased the price fixed of sandalwood to Rs 1,785 a kg. The society was supposed to pay Rs 892.50 per kg.

But the society, according to the submission of Forest Department counsel G S Kannur deposited Rs 57,77,987 as per the old rate.  

For 2006, the Forest Department, which was supposed to supply 10 MT of sandalwood (five MT from Shimoga depot and 1.1 MT from Dharwad depot). The society deposited a sum of Rs 57,11,656 for five MT from Shimoga depot and Rs 17,13,497 towards 1.1 MT from Dharwad depot.

Non-availability

“The Forest Department, however could only supply three MT from Shimoga depot and 700 kg from Dharwad depot due to non-availability of sandalwood, while the Government of Karnataka in an order dated August 23, 2008 banned supply of sandalwood to any person or society,” explained Kannur.

 The Society filed a complaint before the District Consumer Redressal Forum, Bangalore Urban.  The District Forum in its order dated February 7, 2009 allowed the complaint and directed to refund the cost of 2 MT of sandalwood from Shimoga depot and 400 kg to be released from Dharwad depot along with an interest of 9% per annum. It also awarded a compensation of Rs 50,000 to the Society.

The Forest Department appealed to the Karnataka State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Bangalore (No.1458/2009). The Society also appealed to the Commission seeking the release of sandalwood instead of refund (No. 3656/09).

A writ petition was also filed by the society (No. 27037/09) challenging the demand of Rs 57,00,000 made by the Forest Department. The Society also filed writ petition No 27012/2009 challenging the Government order dated December 23, 2008 banning the sale of wood.

Appeal dismissed

Even when both the writ petitions are still pending before the High Court, the State Commission dismissed the Appeal filed by the Forest Department and allowed the Appeal filed by the Society and directed the Forest Department to supply sandalwood.

Aggrieved by this the Forest Department filed for the revision Nos 2353/2010 and 2354/2010 filed before the NCDRC.

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