Delhi HC curbs Enemy Property Act ordinance enforcement | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Delhi HC curbs Enemy Property Act ordinance enforcement

The Delhi High Court has restrained the centre from creating any third party rights in properties it has already seized or will take over using the Enemy Property Act ordinance.

delhi Updated: Aug 15, 2010 17:12 IST
Harish V Nair

The Delhi High Court has restrained the centre from creating any third party rights in properties it has already seized or will take over using the Enemy Property Act ordinance.

These properties are the ones left behind by persons who migrated to Pakistan after the partition. Barring their kin or children from inheriting the property, the centre is proposing to bring a new law the thwart a 2005 pro-owner Supreme Court order.

The Delhi High Court, giving hope to owners of around 20,000 such properties across the country has decided to examine the issue. The President had promulgated an order on July 2, 2010 bringing to effect certain amendments as per which even courts were not entitled to alter the status of any property that was once declared 'enemy property’.

A Bill which was to be placed in the parliament in this regard has reportedly been kept in abeyance following stiff protests from Muslim MPs But the ordinance is still in force. But a Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra asked Jatan Singh, counsel for Centre, to make its stand clear by September 14.

Significantly the court also made it clear to Singh that there will be no third party right in any property taken over using the ordinance and an inventory must be prepared regarding all properties seized in presence of the present owner of the property or his authorized representative.

Court order came on a plea by “Raja” Amir Mohammad Khan. After a 32 year legal battle, Supreme Court restored him properties worth crores in Lucknow which he belonged to his parents who had migrated to Pakistan. Khan contended the center was trying to circumvent the SC order. He moved court after UP Government, armed with the ordinance was in a hurry to take over possession of various buildings, whose possession was handed over to the Raja in pursuance of the apex court order. It included bungalows of the district magistrate, superintendent of police and chief medical officer in Sitapur.

Apex Court order in favour of Khan had created major problems for the government as owners of similar properties across the country sought restoration of their confiscated properties on the same plea. Most prominent of these was Mohammad Ali Jinnah's house in Malabar Hill, Mumbai.

The Genesis

1947: “Enemy Property” referred to property left behind by those who opted for Pakistan after partition. Indian Government seized them as a matter of right.

2005: After a 32 year legal battle, Supreme Court restores crores worth of property to “Raja” Amir Mohammad Khan which he belonged to his parents and ancestors who migrated to Pakistan.

2006:Owners of similar properties across the country start seeking restoration of their confiscated properties citing Khan’s case. Many move court

July 2010: President promulgates ordinance bringing into force an amendment which says even courts were not entitled to alter the status of any property that was once declared 'enemy property’.

August 5, 2010: Khan challenges the ordinance before the Delhi High Court saying it was an illegal attempt to circumvent the SC order

August 6, 2010: HC seeks Centre’s explanation. Refuses to stay ordinance. But says there shall be no third party interest in seized properties.