New Delhi: An ordinance for amendments in the 47-year-old Enemy Property Act was promulgated today under which custodians of "enemy property" will continue to hold these assets of persons who took Pakistani nationality after 1965 and 1971 wars and will not be able to transfer them.
Amendments through the Ordinance which was approved by President Pranab Mukherjee "include that once an enemy property is vested in the Custodian, it shall continue to be vested in him as enemy property irrespective of whether the enemy, enemy subject or enemy firm has ceased to be an enemy due to reasons such as death etc.," an official statement said.
In the wake of the Indo-Pak wars of 1965 and 1971, there was migration of people from India to Pakistan. Under the Defence of India Rules framed under the Defence of India Act, the government took over the properties and companies of such persons who had taken Pakistani nationality.
The Enemy Property Act was enacted in the year 1968 by the Government, which provided for the continuous vesting of enemy property in the custodian. The law of succession does not apply to enemy property.
There cannot be transfer of any property vested in the custodian by an enemy or enemy subject or enemy firm and that the Custodian shall preserve the enemy property till it is disposed of in accordance with the provisions of the Act, it said. "The amendments to the Enemy Property Act, 1968 will plug the loopholes in the Act to ensure that the enemy properties that have been vested in the Custodian remain so and they do not revert back to the enemy subject or enemy firm," it said.
The central government through the Custodian of Enemy Property for India is in possession of enemy properties spread across many states in the country. In addition, there are also movable properties categorized as enemy properties. After the 1965 war, India and Pakistan signed the Tashkent Declaration which included a clause saying that the two countries would discuss the return of the property and assets taken over by either side in connection with the conflict.
However, Pakistan government disposed of all such properties in their country in the year 1971 itself. To ensure that the enemy property continues to vest in the Custodian, appropriate amendments were brought in by way of an Ordinance in the Enemy Property Act, 1968 by the previous UPA regime in 2010.
However, the bill introduced in Parliament could not be passed due to various issues, including differences within the government itself. Since assuming charge in May 2014, the NDA government has taken the ordinance route at least a dozen times, with the first nine ordinances being promulgated in the first eight months of the government.