Lucknow: Accusing the Custodian of Enemy Properties of conniving with his tenants to deprive him of his properties worth Rs.30,000 crore, Amir Mohammad Khan, the raja of the erstwhile princely state of Mahmudabad, Saturday termed the office a "hotbed of corruption".
Khan, who was threatened with the loss of his properties on account of a single act of the custodian, expressed happiness over the decision of the union cabinet Wednesday to amend the Enemy Property Act, 1968, and said his properties would be restored once parliament passed the bill.
Speaking to media persons at his home here, Khan said: "It was on account of the rampant corruption in the Mumbai-based custodian`s office that an ordinance was manipulated to deprive me of my properties which were released in my favour by an order of the country`s highest court in 2005".
Among the properties claimed by Khan were prime buildings in Lucknow`s downtown Hazratganj as well as in the adjacent Sitapur district, where Mahmudabad is, Nainital (Uttarakhand) and a few other places in the country, with tenants only paying him a rent of a few thousand rupees.
"The manner in which all my properties were taken away from me within 24 hours of the issue of the ordinance reflected the unholy nexus between my tenants, the custodian and local officials", Khan alleged.
Responding to the charge by his tenants that the new amendment to the Enemy Property Act was "tailor-made" to benefit him, Khan dismissed it as "a wild allegation".
While the dropped ordinance had sought to do away with any interference by any court, the new amendment says, "if the enemy property was divested from the custodian by a valid order made under section 18 of the Act 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 him."
According to Khan, who fulfils all the criteria, "the new amendment is in the interest of those Indian citizens who refused to cross over to Pakistan after Partition and yet were deprived of their properties because their parents had migrated to Pakistan".
"I was deprived of my properties simply because my father happened to move to Pakistan while my mother and I stayed back," he said.