In a second set of amendments to the enemy property amendment bill to address concerns of BJP leaders, the government on Friday decided to give a protective shield to people living in “enemy properties” against their immediate eviction.
The Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill 2010 was to come up for consideration of the Lok Sabha on Friday afternoon. The Bill will ratify an Ordinance governing properties left by those who had migrated to Pakistan. Government sources said the decision to put off the passage of the bill was taken hours earlier to buy time to make the changes that could help get the BJP on board.
But BJP leaders insist that they will still oppose the amended Bill on Monday. Its Lucknow MP Lalji Tandon will initiate the discussions for the party. Nearly half of the 2,186 enemy properties in the country are in Uttar Pradesh.
“The new amendment says that the Act would not affect any claim made by any person before any court or any other authority against the owner or his lawful heir to whom the property was or may be returned,” a senior government official said, quoting from the proposed amendments.
For instance, this implies that the erstwhile Raja of Mahmudabad, who won back custody of about 800 properties after a 2005 Supreme Court judgment, would get back the title to his properties under this law but not the possession.
“Such claims for possession shall be decided in accordance with law by the court or any other authorities as the case may be,” the official said, citing the fresh amendment.
The first set of amendments cleared earlier at the instance of Muslim MPs who protested the home ministry-driven Ordinance to nullify all verdicts and restored control of enemy properties to the government.
The amendments restored the rights of the lawful heirs of enemy properties if they could come up with evidence that they were Indian citizens.
Home Minister P. Chidambaram met Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj on Friday to seek the party’s support on the proposed legislation.
Swaraj said the party had two issues. One, why was the government overturning its own Ordinance under pressure from Muslim MPs — and thereby “communalizing” legislative process — to benefit the “Raja” of Mahmudabad? Second, what will happen to the tenants who are occupying these properties for decades?
1.Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Ordinance 2010 — Nullified all court verdicts handing back enemy properties to legal heirs, allowed government to take them back.
2.First set of the four amendments allowed properties confiscated under Ordinance to be reverted back to legal heir if Indian citizen.
3.This potentially jeopardised the future of people living in these properties for decades, raising fears that this law would be used to win possession also.
4.Second set of amendments ensure that return of property to “lawful heir” does not influence ongoing court proceedings for possession between owner and tenants or encroachers.