Legal Blog: Government introduces another version of Enemy Property Amendment Bill in Lok Sabha

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Government introduces another version of Enemy Property Amendment Bill in Lok Sabha

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The Government today introduced in the Lok Sabha yet another version of Enemy Property amendment Bill that provides all enemy properties will vest in the custodian till they are divested by the Centre, and such property could be divested only to the owner or his or her lawful heir.

If, however, the enemy property had been divested from the Custodian by a valid order made under section 18 before July 2, 2010 or where the property had been returned to the owner or his lawful heir, such enemy property would continue to remain with such persons. 

The amended version of the four-decade-old law proposes to allow Indian legal heirs to inherit the properties of their relatives who migrated to Pakistan after Partition. 

The Bill, entitled The Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Second Bill, 2010 was introduced by Home Minister P Chidambaram amidst pandemonium in the House created by the Opposition over its demand for a JPC probe into the alleged corruption in the allotment of 2G spectrum. 

The Bill also provides that nothing contained in the Act shall affect the claim made by any person before any court of law or other authority against the owner or his lawful heir to whom the property was or may be returned under this Act and such claim shall be decided in accordance with law by the court or any other authority. The Bill also says 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 have jurisdiction to order divestment from the custodian or direct the central government to divest enemy property. 

However, the court will have jurisdiction to adjudicate whether the property claimed to be vested in the custodian was an enemy property or not. 

Before introducing the new Bill today, the Government withdrew the old amendment Bill, which had faced strong BJP Opposition in the House in the last session of Parliament. 

The Bill seeks to replace the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Ordinance, promulgated by the President on July 2. 

The government had enacted a law in 1968 by which it declared the properties left behind by those who migrated to Pakistan during partition as enemy properties. 

Introducing the Bill, Mr Chidambaram said that the 1968 Act was brought in to provide for continued vesting of enemy property vested in the Custodian of Enemy Property for India under the Defence of India Rules, 1962 and other connected matter. 

‘Of late, there have been a number of judgements by various courts that have adversely affected the powers of the Custodian and the Government of India as provided under the Enemy Property Act 1968. In view of such interpretation by the courts, the custodian has been finding it difficult to sustain his action under the Act,’ he said.


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