A Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by Union Home Minister will monitor the disposal of over 9,400 enemy properties, which the government estimates are worth about Rs 1 lakh crore.
- Two committees headed by senior officials will be set up for the disposal of immovable enemy properties vested in the Custodian of Enemy Property for India under The Enemy Property Act.
- In the wake of the India-Pakistan wars of 1965 and 1971, there was the migration of people from India to Pakistan.
- Under the Defence of India Rules framed under the Defence of India Act, 1962, the Government of India took over the properties and companies of those who took Pakistani nationality.
- These “enemy properties” were vested by the central government in the Custodian of Enemy Property for India.
- The same was done for property left behind by those who went to China after the 1962 Sino-Indian war.
The Tashkent Declaration of January 10, 1966, included a clause that said India and Pakistan would discuss the return of the property and assets taken over by either side in connection with the conflict. However, the Government of Pakistan disposed of all such properties in their country in the year 1971 itself.
How did India deal with the enemy property?
- The Enemy Property Act, enacted in 1968, provided for the continuous vesting of enemy property in the Custodian of Enemy Property for India.
- The central government, through the Custodian, is in possession of enemy properties spread across many states in the country. Some movable properties too, are categorized as enemy properties.
The Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2017
The act amended The Enemy Property Act, 1968, and The Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971.
Salient features of the new act
- Expanded the definition of the term enemy subject and enemy firm: To include
- The legal heir and successor of an enemy, whether a citizen of India or a citizen of a country which is not an enemy and
- The succeeding firm of an enemy firm, irrespective of the nationality of its members or partners.
2. The enemy property continues to vest in the Custodian:
Even if the enemy or enemy subject or enemy firm ceases to be an enemy due to death, extinction, winding up of business or change of nationality, or that the legal heir or successor is a citizen of India or a citizen of a country which is not an enemy.
3. The Custodian may dispose of enemy properties:
With prior approval of the central government, the Custodian may dispose of enemy properties vested in him in accordance with the provisions of the Act, and the government may issue directions to the Custodian for this purpose.
Need for bringing new amendments
- The thrust of the amendments was to guard against claims of succession or transfer of properties left by people who migrated to Pakistan and China after the wars.
- The amendments denied legal heirs any right over the enemy property. The main aim was to negate the effect of a court judgment in this regard.
- Union of India vs. Raja Mohammed Amir Mohammad Khan, 2005: The verdict opened the floodgates for further pleas in courts across the country in which genuine or purported relatives of persons who had migrated to Pakistan produced deeds of gift claiming they were the rightful owners of enemy properties.
Also read: Property Tax System as a source of revenue