On Tuesday, the Parliament cleared the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill 2016. The Bill was passed with a voice vote in the Lok Sabha, incorporating the amendments made by the Rajya Sabha
The Bill amends 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 the wars.
Just last week the bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha after the Opposition had walked out from the House over the issue.
The Lok Sabha had passed the bill earlier but certain amendments were introduced to it in the Rajya Sabha, on the recommendations of a Select Committee. Those amendments were approved by the Lower House today.
“The purpose of bill is to clarify the 1968 Act. Inheritance law will not be applicable on Enemy Property… This will put an end to the long pending issue which should have ideally happened in 2010 when the Bill was introduced,” Home Minister Rajnath Singh said while replying to a brief debate on the bill.
Justifying the move to amend the Act, Singh rejected the contention of some MPs that it was against the principle of natural justice and amounted to human rights violations.
“I wonder how it is against the principle of natural justice. Pakistan has seized the properties of Indian citizens… It will be natural justice if their property (of those who migrated to Pakistan) is not returned,” he said.
Singh insisted that the bill was in the nation’s interest and said it would help in saving such properties from the land mafia.
Enemy properties are estimated to be worth over Rs 1 lakh crore and if this legislation is not brought, then it would be lost, he noted.
The amendments that were approved are aimed at ensuring that the enemy properties that have been vested in the Custodian remain so and do not revert to the enemy subject or firm.
According to the Bill, “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 government brought the amendment bill in the wake of a claim laid by the heirs of Raja Mohammad Amir Mohammad Khan, known as Raja of Mahmudabad, on his properties spread across Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. The matter is before the Supreme Court.
Five ordinances were promulgated on the bill. The last one was due to expire today.
(With inputs from PTI)