Lok Sabha Wednsday 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, 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. It will replace the ordinance issued in January this year.
Replying to a debate on the bill, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, the legislation 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, 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. Mr Singh said, 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.
The new bill also ensures that the law of succession will not apply to enemy property and there cannot be transfer of any property vested in the Custodian. 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. The Custodian will have powers to evict unauthorised occupants from the enemy property.