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Ordinance to amend Enemy Property Act to be ‘re-promulgated’

Rajya Sabha

New Delhi: The government is learnt to have on Tuesday recommended re-promulgating an ordinance to amend the Enemy Property Act to allow custodians to continue to hold sway over such properties. Sources said the ordinance was not on the regular agenda of the Union Cabinet which met this afternoon but was added at the last moment. “Yes, it has been cleared,” said a senior functionary.

A bill to replace the ordinance is pending with the Rajya Sabha which had referred it to a Select Committee. The Committee had recently tabled its report in the House recommending a few changes. Following the end of the Budget session, the ordinance had lapsed. The first ordinance was issued on January 1, while the second one was issued on April 2. Once signed by the President — who is in China on a state visit — the ordinance will be issued for the third time before Rajya Sabha takes a call on it in the Monsoon Session which usually begins in the last week of July.

The earlier ordinances amended the provisions of the Act declaring that all “enemy property” vested in the ‘custodian’ would continue to vest in the custodian irrespective of the death or extinction of the enemy. The custodian of enemy property in the country is an Indian government department that is empowered to appropriate property in India owned by Pakistani nationals. After the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, the Enemy Property Act was enacted in 1968.

The Narendra Modi government, following the footsteps of the previous UPA government, has been keen to amend the Enemy Property Act. A new section was inserted in the previous ordinance to say that “the Custodian, may, after making such inquiry as he deems necessary, by order, declare that the property of the enemy or the enemy subject or the enemy firm described in the order, vests in him under this Act and issue a certificate to this effect and such certificate shall be the evidence of the facts stated therein”.

The President had yesterday signed an ordinance to keep state boards out of the ambit of uniform medical and dental college exams for one year.

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