The Parliament just passed a long-pending amendment to a 49-year old Act which prevents the successors of those who migrated to Pakistan and China during Partition from claiming properties left behind in India.
The Parliament just passed a long-pending amendment to a 49-year old Act which prevents the successors of those who migrated to Pakistan and China during Partition from claiming properties left behind in India. The Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2016, which amends the Enemy Property Act, 1968, was passed in the Lok Sabha by voice vote. It incorporated the amendments made by the Rajya Sabha earlier. On recommendations of a select committee, certain amendments were introduced in the upper house. The lower house of Parliament then approved those amendments. There is now more clarity on the properties that had already been acquired by the successors of the ‘enemy’ property owners, regarding the nationals of Pakistan and China. The government justified the move to amend the Act and rejected the contention of some MPs where they said that such a thing is against the principle of ‘natural justice’ and could amount to human rights violations. Here are some of the things you should know about the Enemy Property Bill:
1) The bill says that ‘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. It is an office which is instituted under the government at the centre.
2) Following the Indo-Pakistan War of 1965, the Enemy Property Act was enacted in 1968, that regulates these kinds of properties and lists the powers of the Custodian. The ordinance was for the first time promulgated on January 7, 2016. It was passed by Lok Sabha on March 9, 2016, but was subsequently referred to Rajya Sabha Select Committee.
3) The government said that Inheritance law will not be applicable on Enemy Property. This according to home minister Rajnath Singh, will put an end to the long pending issue which should have ideally happened in 2010 when the Bill was first brought. The government added that the law only applies on heirs of enemy property. The tenants of that property will be governed by the Tenancy Act.
4) The government brought the amendment bill after the heirs of Raja Mohammad Amir Mohammad Khan, known as Raja of Mahmudabad, laid claims on his properties spread across Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Currently, the matter is before the Supreme Court.
5) An Ordinance to amend the law was promulgated for the fifth time on December 22 last year and it was due to lapse today. An ordinance lapses after 42 days from the day a session begins unless a bill to replace it is approved by Parliament. Five ordinances were promulgated on the bill. The last one was due to expire earlier.
(with agency inputs)