The Centre will have the last word on enemy properties that would be returned to legal heirs after they win cases in courts, according to amendments to the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill 2010 cleared by the government.
The Home Ministry has, however, decided to withdraw provisions under the ordinance promulgated on 2 July that reversed all orders to transfer property from the Custodian of Enemy Property.
The original provision in the Ordinance had enabled the Uttar Pradesh government to regain control over properties of legal heirs such as the Raja of Mehmoodabad, who had won the case in the Supreme Court in 2005. The Raja, an Indian citizen, had stayed back in India after his father opted for Pakistani citizenship and left the country.
Many Congress leaders including Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid complained that this was blatantly unfair and had approached Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P Chidambaram.
Government sources said amendments would be moved when the legislation comes up in Lok Sabha that would recognise transfer of properties ordered earlier under the law.
In cases where the property had been returned to the legal heir under a judicial pronouncement, the amendment would allow this decision if the centre was also convinced that the property was being returned to the legal heir.
Sources said this provision was being incorporated due to several instances where the lower courts appeared to have ordered the property to be given to people who did not qualify to receive the enemy property.
In its new form, government sources said the amendment would also define a legal heir under this law.
This provision has been made in light of people claiming enemy property on the strength of backdated gifts through oral or unregistered wills.