Govt drops plans on Ordinance on Enemy Property

Last Updated: Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - 22:18

New Delhi: Taking into account the differing
views of various political parties, government today dropped
plans for a fresh Ordinance on the fate of properties left
behind by those who went to Pakistan during partition and
decided to bring a new bill in the next session of Parliament.

The Cabinet, at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh here, noted that there was no urgency to bring
an ordinance on Enemy Property to replace the one that has
expired with the completion of the Monsoon session of
Parliament on August 31.

During the Monsoon Session, the government was forced to
withdraw the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill,
2010 after the opposition by various parties.

The bill, brought in the backdrop of various court
rulings, made it clear that judiciary would have no
jurisdiction over occupation of such properties and the
decision would solely be taken by the government.

At the Cabinet meeting, Home Minister P Chidambaram noted
that several political parties had spoken in favour or against
the bill and therefore it would be appropriate to take
everyone on board on the issue, sources said.

Some ministers recalled that leaders from various parties
had either met Leader of the Lok Sabha and Finance Minister
Pranab Mukherjee or the Prime Minister to oppose the
Ordinance.

Keeping these aspects in view, the Cabinet decided
against bringing an Ordinance and instead opt for legislative
route.

"The Cabinet decided to bring a bill on Enemy Property in
the Winter Session of Parliament incorporating the original
Ordinance as well as the official amendments," an official
spokesman said.

With the government deciding against the fresh Ordinance,
the Supreme Court judgement that such properties be given to
the legal heirs would be applicable till a new law is enacted.
On July two, the government had promulgated an Ordinance
which barred courts to restore enemy property to heirs.

A month later, the government introduced in the Lok Sabha
Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2010 that made
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.

The Bill sought to replace an Act of 1968, was moved in
view of a number of court judgements that "adversely affected
the powers" of the custodians and the government of India as
provided under the said law.

Enemy properties are those left behind by people who went
to Pakistan during partition. There are about 2,000 such
properties in the country.

The promulgation of the Ordinance and the subsequent
moves to bring a Bill faced opposition both from within the
government and also from some political parties.

With SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav and RJD chief Lalu
Prasad dubbing the Bill as "anti-Muslim" the government
offered to bring in some amendments, a move which saw the
principal Opposition BJP up in arms.

Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj attacked the
government for offering to introduce the amendments to favour
a particular person and said that the BJP would oppose any
such move.

She had also demanded that the Bill be referred to a
Parliamentary Standing Committee, a idea which did not find
much favour with the government.

Sensing the mood of the Lok Sabha, Chidambaram had
offered to bring a fresh Bill incorporating the official
amendments in the next session.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - 22:18

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