The Centre has for the fourth time promulgated an ordinance to amend nearly 50-year-old Enemy Property law to guard against claims of succession or transfer of properties left by people who migrated to Pakistan and China after wars.
‘Enemy property’ refers to any property belonging to, held or managed on behalf of an enemy, an enemy subject or an enemy firm.
The government has vested these properties in the Custodian of Enemy Property for India, an office instituted under the central government. After the Indo-Pakistan War of 1965, the Enemy Property Act was enacted in 1968, which regulates such properties and lists the Custodian’s powers.
President Pranab Mukherjee has approved ‘The Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Fourth Ordinance, 2016’ and it has been notified yesterday, according to an official notification.
The first ordinance was issued on January 1, and another one was issued on April 2. The third ordinance was promulgated by the President on May 31 and it lapsed on Sunday.
The promulgation of the ordinance for the fourth time was necessitated as ‘The Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2016’, to replace the ordinance, is pending in the Rajya Sabha and to give continuity to the third executive order issued in May.
The bill was passed by Lok Sabha on March 9. However, it could not get Rajya Sabha nod from where it was referred to select committee. The committee has submitted its report in May but the bill could not be taken up in the Upper House.
The ordinance has been promulgated again as “Parliament is not in session and the President is satisfied that circumstances exist which render it necessary for him to take immediate action”.
An ordinance lapses after 42 days from the day a session begins unless a bill to replace it is approved by Parliament.
As per the proposed amendments, once an enemy property is vested in the Custodian, it shall continue to be vested in him as enemy property irrespective of whether the enemy, enemy subject or enemy firm has ceased to be an enemy due to reasons such as death, etc.
The amendments are aimed at plugging the loopholes in the Act to ensure that the enemy properties that have been vested in the Custodian remain so and do not revert to the enemy subject or enemy firm.
Enemy properties are spread across many states in the country.