Decided on September 11,1974



- (1.) A plot of land measuring 1 acre 48 cents was acquired by the State under the Kerala Land Acquisition Act, 1961 (for brevity, the Act). The whole compensation amount was deposited as required by S.33(2) of the Act in the lower court, and a reference was issued under S.32 thereof. The appellants in the first instance filed a statement before the lower court claiming compensation in respect of 16 cents of the acquired land. Subsequently, by an additional statement filed by them on 13-6-1968 and received by the lower court they claimed compensation for another 8 cents of land also. In respect of these 8 cents of land the 13th respondent had already claimed compensation. The lower court declined to decide the appellants' claim relating to the 8 cents of land on merits for the reason that they had not advanced such a claim before the Land Acquisition Officer, and also on the ground that such a dispute has not been referred to the court. This appeal is against that decision.
(2.) The primary function of the Collector under the Act is acquisition of land needed for public purpose, after marking out the same, determining the area thereof, and settling compensation payable therefor. He has for this purpose to make an award of the true area of the land, and of the compensation, which according to him is payable for that land. This award is 'strictly speaking an offer made to the person interested in land notified for acquisition' G. H. Grant v. State, ( 1965 (3) SCR 576 at 584).
(3.) The determination of the 'person (or persons) interested' is only an ancillary or secondary function of the Collector. The expression 'person interested' as defined in S.2(2) of the Act 'includes all persons claiming or entitled to claim an interest in compensation payable on account of the acquisition of land'. Several persons may have different interests in the notified land as a whole or in different portions thereof. There may also be dispute as to the person who is entitled to the compensation amount or part thereof. The person or persons lawfully entitled to the compensation amount, therefore, will have to be determined and / or the said amount apportioned amongst different persons, resolving the inter se disputes, and evaluating the different interests. The Collector will very often find that the resolution of these questions is beyond his competence. The statute, therefore, gives him the option either to proceed to determine the persons entitled and to apportion the amount himself, and to make an award of such apportionment, or, to refer the dispute to the court. If he proceeds to apportion the compensation amount himself, S.11(iii) requires him to apportion the compensation 'among all the persons known or believed to be interested in the land, of whom, or of whose claims, he has information, whether or not they have respectively appeared before him'. A 'person interested', if he does not accept the apportionment of the decision as to the person entitled made by the Collector can, under S.20 of the Act, require him within the time limits prescribed thereunder to refer the matter of apportionment or the question as to who is entitled to the compensation amount or part thereof to the court.;

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