The Federal Constitution guarantees one’s right to ownership of property where private property cannot be compulsory acquired unless there is such law that allows the acquisition, accompanied with adequate compensation being paid to the deprived owner. By this, we should take note that our constitutional rights of ownership are not absolute.
With the implementation of Land Acquisition Act 1960, it is important for landowners to understand their rights so that they are protected and adequately compensated in a compulsory land acquisition.
Land acquisition is the compulsory taking of the entire alienated land by the State Authority authorized under the Land Acquisition Act (LAA) 1960. As provided in the Constitution, State land is vested under the authority of State Authority; any private land can be acquired only for:
- public purpose;
- any purpose which is beneficial to the economic development; and
- purpose of mining, residential, agriculture, commercial, industrial, recreation or any combination of such purposes.
To secure the rights of landowners, the State Authority and Land Administrator must comply with the process and requirements of land acquisition stated under LAA and make sure that landowners are adequately compensated in return.
The procedures of compulsory land acquisition can be divided into 3 stages: pre-acquisition stage, acquisition stage and post-acquisition stage.
In the pre-acquisition stage, private persons can make an application in writing to the State Authority in acquiring a private land. The acquisition of private land is only applicable for the 3 purposes as mentioned above. As shown below in Table 1 is the process and main focus of pre-acquisition stage.
|Notification on the acquisition of land is published in the Government Gazette
|Public notice by Land Administrator on the notification published
|Notice by State Director to authorize any persons to enter and survey the land
|Preparation and submission of plan and list of lands to be acquired
|Declaration of Intended Acquisition on the scheduled land
|Mark out areas affected by the acquisition and make a note
During the acquisition stage, the Land Administrator is obliged to submit the applicable forms in acquiring the scheduled land as shown below in Table 2.
|Notice of enquiry to person interested
|Notice to person interested to provide evidence in writing of the information
|Full enquiry of value of land and compensation before the Land Administrator
|Written Award of Compensation prepared by Land Administrator
|Service of Written Award of Compensation to person interested
|Notice to take possession in urgent cases before payment of compensation award by issuing “Certificate of Urgency”
|Notice to vacate the building of the acquired land
|Notice of formal possession on the acquired land
|Notice of demand to deliver documents of titles to Land Administrator
Lastly, post-acquisition stage is the final stage where landowners are able to make objection on the award of compensation by the Land Administrator. Table 3 as shown below has stipulated the process of application.
|Person interested have 6 weeks from the date of Land Administrator’s Award to consider whether to object the compensation awarded
|Land Administrator make a reference to the Court for determination
|Application of objection on compensation award by person interested to Land Administrator and refer it to Court
|Land Administrator refer the objection received to the High Court