The government on Wednesday revived the amendments to the Enemy Property Act that would bar transfer of enemy property by oral will and oral gift, months after an earlier controversial attempt was aborted because of conflicting demands from political parties.
The draft legislation, cleared by the Union cabinet at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, would be introduced during the winter session of Parliament.
But the legislative proposal — expected to be referred to Parliament's standing committee — could come up for passage only next year.
The government had quietly promulgated an ordinance in July, introducing stringent provisions that overturned every judicial verdict that went against the government, and vested the properties back to the Custodian of Enemy Property.
A high-pitched campaign against the ordinance that focused on the erstwhile Raja of Mehmoodabad — who stood to again lose nearly 900 properties worth thousands of crores — however, isolated the home ministry.
The government found it difficult to explain why an Indian citizen Amir Mohammad Khan — who had stayed back —should not be able to inherit properties from his father, who opted for Pakistani citizenship in 1956.
The attempt to tighten the norms, however, fell through when the government made changes to make them acceptable to Muslim leaders. The BJP, however, refused to support the diluted version.
In its fresh form, the amendments enable the enemy property, as it is legally called, to be divested only to the owner or his (or her) lawful heir. Also, it not only bars courts from divesting the property from the government but also reverses any transfer claimed to have been made by an oral gift or oral will.
"The Central Government is authorised to direct the Custodian to sell or dispose of enemy properties in such manner as may be prescribed," the bill cleared by the cabinet said.