Ker HC | Land categorized by LAO can’t be included in another category by Reference Court to re-determine compensation

Kerala High Court: P.B. Suresh Kumar, J. while allowing a land acquisition appeal, set aside the impugned award and restored the Collector’s award.

Respondent’s land had been acquired for laying down of railway line pursuant to a notification issued in 1991 under Section 4(1) of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. Respondent received compensation on the basis of land value fixed by the Land Acquisition Officer. Later, in a reference under Section 18 of the Act, the reference court enhanced the land value of another land covered by the same notification, but categorized differently. The respondent preferred an application for redetermination of the compensation granted to him in tune with the award of reference court. The Collector redetermined the compensation payable to respondent based on the land value fixed by the reference court. Nevertheless, the first respondent sought a reference under Section 28-A(3) of the Act as, according to him, the Collector ought to have granted the land value granted by reference court. The reference court enhanced and refixed the land value of the acquired land as prayed for by the first respondent. Aggrieved by the said order, the instant appeal was filed by the State.

The Court observed that the the Land Acquisition Officer had categorized lands notified for acquisition for the purpose of fixing land value; and the land held by the respondent was covered under a different category than the one in respect of which the reference court had passed an order. It was for the said reason that the Collector had made a proportionate reduction while awarding compensation to the respondent.

Thus, the Court upheld the Collector’s proportionate reduction in redetermining the compensation payable to the first respondent while setting aside the reference court’s modification of the Collector’s award. It was opined that the reference court cannot treat a land included by the Land Acquisition Officer in one category as one included in another category and redetermine the compensation on that basis as done in the instant case, as such powers, though available to Court under Section 18 of the Act, are not available to the Court in a reference under Section 28-A(3) of the Act.

While setting aside the impugned award and restoring the Collector’s award, the Court also observed that the object of Section 28-A(3) of the Act is to enable those who could not avail the remedy under Section 18 of the Act to obtain compensation for the lands acquired from them also.[Karunakaran Nair v. State of Kerala, LA App. No. 229 of 2016, decided on 20-03-2019]

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