Cabinet okays re-promulgation of ordinance to amend Enemy Property Act

NEW DELHI: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday recommended re-promulgating an Ordinance to amend the nearly 50-year-old Enemy Property Act to guard against claims of succession or transfer of properties left by people who migrated to Pakistan and China after the wars.

“We had passed an Enemy Property Ordinance, which was ratified by the Lok Sabha and when it went Rajya Sabha, it was referred to a Select Committee. The duration of this Ordinance is going to expire in the first week of April.

“Therefore that Ordinance has also been repromulgated till the receipt of the report of the Select Committee. We had revalidated till it (the report on the bill) does not come from the Select Committee,” Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters after the Cabinet briefing.

The first ordinance was promulgated in January and a bill to replace the executive order was introduced in Parliament in the Budget session.

Today’s Cabinet was chaired by Home Minister Rajnath Singh as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is away in Brussels.

While it was cleared by the Lok Sabha, the opposition in the Rajya Sabha forced the government to refer it to a Select Committee of the Upper House.

Since there were little chances of the bill replacing the ordinance getting Parliamentary nod soon, the Rajya Sabha was prorogued yesterday to ensure a fresh ordinance could be issued. An ordinance lapses if it is not replaced by an Act of Parliament within six weeks or 42 days of the beginning of a Parliament session.

Home Minister Singh had told the Lok Sabha recently that the measure does not pertain to Pakistan alone, but also to those Chinese who left India after the 1962 Sino-India War.

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 had taken 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 say 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 provisions also ensure 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 do not revert 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.

Credits ET Realty

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