Govt approves amendments to Enemy Property Act

The amendments will ensure that such property is divested only to the owner or his lawful heir.

Updated: Oct 20, 2010, 14:15 PM IST

New Delhi: The Central government Wednesday approved amendments to the Enemy Property Act to ensure, among
other issues, that such property is divested only to the owner
or his lawful heir and continue to vest in the custodian till
it is divested by the Centre.

A meeting of the Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh, approved the proposal of the Ministry
of Home Affairs to introduce the Enemy Property (Amendment and
Validation) Second Bill, 2010 to make amendments to the Enemy
Property Act, 1968.

An attempt to make amendments to the Act during the
Monsoon Session of Parliament failed due to repeated pleas and
lobbying of cross-party Muslim MPs, including several
ministers, who pleaded to ensure that legal heirs are allowed
to hold the property of their parents or grandparents who had
migrated to Pakistan.

Through an Act in 1968, the government had declared the
properties left behind by people who migrated to Pakistan
during partition as `enemy properties`.

"The fresh amendments that were placed before Parliament,
however, have been incorporated in the new Bill. There is no
change in the content of the Bill," Home Minister P
Chidambaram told reporters here.

The proposal for fresh amendments provide for ensuring
that the enemy property shall continue to vest in the
custodian till it is divested by the Central government and
the enemy property could be divested only to the owner or his
lawful heir.

According to the proposed amendments, if the enemy
property was divested from the custodian before July 2, 2010,
it shall stand transferred to and vest or continue to vest in
the custodian.

If, however, the enemy property was divested from the
custodian by a valid order made under Section 18 prior to July
2, 2010 or where the property had been returned to the owner
or his lawful heir by an order of the court; and if the lawful
heir is a citizen of India by birth, such enemy property will
continue to remain with such person.

Other proposed amendments include that transfer of any
enemy property shall not include any transfer or any claim of
transfer made through oral will or oral gift or if it has been
done without the permission of the competent authority and no
court shall order divestment from the custodian or direct the
Central government to divest enemy property.

The Central government is authorised to direct the
custodian to sell or dispose of enemy properties in such
manner as may be prescribed, to amend the Public Premises
(Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971 to declare the
Custodian, Deputy Custodian and Assistant Custodian of Enemy
Properties as Estate Officer in respect of the enemy
properties are other features of the proposed amendments.

The amendments will have retrospective effect.

PTI