Takeover to be absolute | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Takeover to be absolute

The proposed law on enemy property will empower the government to dispose of properties of Pakistani nationals vested in the Custodian of Enemy Property, reversing the four-decade-old policy to preserve the properties in the hope of an exchange between India and Pakistan.

delhi Updated: Aug 29, 2010 22:56 IST
Aloke Tikku

The proposed law on enemy property will empower the government to dispose of properties of Pakistani nationals vested in the Custodian of Enemy Property, reversing the four-decade-old policy to preserve the properties in the hope of an exchange between India and Pakistan.

The decision to reverse the policy of a government-appointed officer to act as custodian was taken in view of 1985-reports that Islamabad had disposed of properties of Indian nationals taken during the 1965 war.

Government sources said the foreign ministry had given its concurrence for an enabling provision in the law to make the take-over of enemy properties absolute and not temporary.

“It is an enabling provision that can be invoked at some stage to sell enemy properties,” an official said. “This is an important feature of the Enemy Property (Validation and Amendment) Bill — slated to come up for Lok Sabha’s approval on Monday,” he said.

While draconian provisions of the Bill that restored government control over all properties classified as enemy properties have been severely diluted by the home ministry, this provision has survived the axe.

The foreign ministry had earlier been against the custodian selling the immovable assets on grounds that could revive discussions on the Tashkent Agreement clause that required both countries to compensate the other for confiscated properties of its nationals.

A majority of the 2,186 enemy properties vested in the custodian relate to properties of Pakistani nationals. There are, however, nearly 350 properties — largely in West Bengal — originally owned by Bangladeshi nationals. The foreign ministry believes the government should hang on to these as their disposal could impact relations between Delhi and Dhaka.

Bangladesh had conveyed that a decision on Indian nationals’ properties would be taken after settlement of its assets and liability with Pakistan.