Fresh Enemy Property Bill soon: Chidambaram

Against the backdrop of sharp political divide, govt said it will bring a "fresh bill" to amend a law governing properties left behind by those who went to Pakistan.

Last Updated: Aug 30, 2010, 18:44 PM IST

New Delhi: Against the backdrop of sharp
political divide, government today said it will bring a "fresh
bill" to amend a law governing properties left behind by those
who went to Pakistan during partition, in effect withdrawing
the draft legislation introduced in the Lok Sabha.

The government`s move came after uproar by Samajwadi Party
and RJD which termed the Enemy Property (Amendment and
Validation) Bill as "anti-Muslim" and wanted changes which
were strongly opposed by the BJP and the Shiv Sena.

Home Minister P Chidambaram said after extensive
discussions, members had sought more time to study the
amendments along with the Ordinance that was issued on July 2.

"It is a reasonable request... We will bring a fresh bill
incorporating the amendments in the Winter Session of
Parliament," he said.

This prompted the BJP to question the "intention" of the
government behind the move.
Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj said the BJP was
prepared to support the Bill in its original form but not with
the amendments arguing that in such a case, the Bill should be
referred to a Parliamentary Standing Committee.

"The BJP will oppose if the Bill is brought along with the
amendments. You will have to send it to the Standing Committee
where a better discussion can take place. In that case we are
with you," she said.

The Bill ran into trouble when the government moved
certain official amendments after consultations with the
Samajwadi Party and the RJD which left the BJP fuming.

The draft legislation makes it clear that courts would
have no jurisdiction over occupation of properties which have
been left behind by those who went to Pakistan at the time of
partition. There are about 2,000 such properties in India.
Swaraj said the BJP suspects that the government would
allow the ordinance to lapse and bring in a new one
incorporating the amendments.

Senior BJP leader L K Advani said it seems the government
wanted the ordinance to lapse which would happen if this bill
is not passed in Parliament. "It seems that you don`t want to
take it (bill) to the Standing Committee," he said.

The amendments proposed now would undo the ordinance
practically, Advani said adding that it was perhaps for the
first time a bill to replace an ordinance has not been moved.

"I do not want to answer hypothetical questions... You are
looking for ghosts where none reside. Amendments were proposed
after extensive consultations and some parties required more
time to study. What is unusual about it? This is nothing new
or surreptitious," Chidambaram said.

He said there was no reason to harbour any ill-will and
the government would bring a fresh draft legislation to
Parliament.

PTI