A bill to amendment a four-decade-old law, which proposes to allow Indian legal heirs to inherit the properties of relatives who migrated to Pakistan after Partition, was on Monday introduced in the Lok Sabha.
Home Minister P Chidambaram introduced The Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Second Bill, 2010, which grants legal sanction to only those transactions effected before July 2 this year.
An attempt to get the amendments passed by Parliament during the Monsoon session had come a cropper due to repeated pleas and lobbying by MPs from various parties, including several ministers, who pleaded to ensure that legal heirs are allowed to hold the property of their parents or grandparents who had migrated to Pakistan.
The biggest beneficiary of the amendment could be the Raja of Mahmoodabad M A Mohammad Khan, who may get control over his father's properties spread across Uttar Pradesh once the amendments are passed by Parliament.
According to the amendments, "If the enemy property was divested from the Custodian before 2nd July, 2010, it shall stand transferred to and vest or continue to vest in the custodian."
"If, however, the enemy property was divested from the custodian by a valid order made under section 18 prior to 2nd July, 2010 or where the property had been returned to the owner or his lawful heir by an order of the court; and if the lawful heir is a citizen of India by birth, such enemy property will continue to remain with such person," state the amendments approved by the Union Cabinet on October 20.
Through an Act in 1968, the government had declared the properties left behind by people who migrated to Pakistan during partition as 'enemy properties'.
The proposal for fresh amendments provide for ensuring that the enemy property shall continue to vest in the custodian till it is divested by the Central government and the enemy property could be divested only to the owner or his lawful heir.
As per the proposed amendments, 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 order divestment from the custodian or direct the Central government to divest enemy property.
The Central government is authorised to direct the custodian to sell or dispose of enemy properties in such a manner as may be prescribed, to amend the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971 to declare the Custodian, Deputy Custodian and Assistant Custodian of Enemy Properties as Estate Officer in respect of the enemy properties, according to the proposed amendments.