Enemy Property Bill passed in Rajya Sabha in Oppn’s absence

RSTV Bureau
New Delhi: Congress leader Jairam Ramesh in the Rajya Sabha on the second day of the second part of the Budget Session of Parliament in New Delhi on Friday. PTI Photo / TV GRAB

New Delhi: Congress leader Jairam Ramesh in the Rajya Sabha on the second day of the second part of the Budget Session of Parliament in New Delhi on Friday. PTI Photo / TV GRAB

The Upper House passed The Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill 2016 in the Upper House on Friday after the Opposition staged a walkout over the issue.

The Bill passed will amend the nearly 50-year-old Enemy Property Act which guards against claims of succession or transfer of properties left by people who migrated to Pakistan and China after wars.
While raising objections to the Bill, the Opposition argued that the bill is being passed in haste.

“There is no urgency….this can be passed later on as well,” said Samajwadi Party’s Javed Ali

Congress MPs along with TMC members walked out in a huff.

Leader of the House Arun Jaitley explained the backgrounder behind the urgency of passing this bill saying it is closely linked to national security.

“The object is that enemy must not hold property in my territory…whatever political signals people want to send, this is an issue of national security….so let’s not create a situation for political purpose which allows enemy get back the property,” said Arun Jaitley, the Leader of House in Rajya Sabha.

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.
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.

With no member present on the opposition benches , the statutory resolution was negated and the bill passed in the Upper house.

The Bill, now passed by Parliament, will replace the ordinance promulgated by the government after it failed to amend the Enemy Property Act

The Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Fifth Ordinance, 2016 was promulgated on December 22, 2016. It was promulgated four times in the past.

“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.

The Enemy Property ordinance was for the first time promulgated on January 7, 2016. It was passed by Lok Sabha on March 9 that year but was subsequently referred to Select Committee of Rajya Sabha.

It was re-promulgated for the second time on April 2, 2016 and a third time incorporating the amendments suggested by the Rajya Sabha Select Committee on May 31, 2016.

Since its validity was to expire on August 28, 2016, the President promulgated the fourth ordinance on the subject a day before that.

(With inputs from PTI)