New Delhi: Lok Sabha today passed a bill to amend a 48-year-old law to guard against claims of succession or transfer of properties left by people who migrated to Pakistan and China after the wars.
The Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2016, which amends the Enemy Property Act, 1968, was passed by voice vote amid the government’s assertion that the measure should not be seen from the prism of religion or caste.
A demand by the Opposition for sending it to the Standing Committee of Parliament was also turned down.
Replying to a debate on the bill, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, “It does not pertain to Pakistan alone, but also to those Chinese who left India after the 1962 Sino-India War.
Even their property comes under the ambit of this Bill.”
In the wake of the Indo-Pak war of 1965 and 1971, there was migration of people from India to Pakistan and under the Defence of India Rules framed under the Defence of India Act, the Government of India took over the properties and companies of such persons who had taken Pakistani nationality.
These enemy properties were vested by the Central Government in the Custodian of Enemy Property for India.
The amendments include that 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 new bill also ensures that the law of succession does not apply to enemy property; that there cannot be transfer of any property vested in the Custodian by an enemy or enemy subject or enemy firm and that the Custodian shall preserve the enemy property till it is disposed of in accordance with the provisions of the Act.
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 they do not revert back to the enemy subject or enemy firm.
The Enemy Property Act was enacted in the year 1968 by the Government of India, which provided for the continuous vesting of enemy property in the Custodian.
The Central Government through the Custodian of Enemy Property for India is in possession of enemy properties spread across many states in the country. In addition, there are also movable properties categorized as enemy properties.