Amendments to the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill 2010 have been finalised and it is likely to be taken up for discussion and passage in Lok Sabha shortly, may be even as early as Thursday.
Direct legal heirs and Indian family members of those who migrated to Pakistan at the time of the Partition may be able to go to court to regain possession of the properties, according to the fresh amendments that have been agreed upon.
Muslim MPs, including Union ministers, had opposed the Bill in its original form, which would have prevented Indian citizens from gaining possession of their ancestral property.
“For preventing the ordinance from lapsing, the government needs to bring in an ordinance before the end of the current session of Parliament,” Minorities Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid told HT.
Apprehending possibilities of the matter snowballing into a minority’s issue, the UPA has agreed to the proposed amendments.
After the 2005 Supreme Court order — returning Raja of Mehmoodabad’s properties to his heir Mohammed Amir Mohamed Khan — a rash of claims have been coming in.
In one case filed in the Allahabad High Court, a person has claimed nearly one-third of Agra.
Interestingly, leaders across party lines share more or less similar views on the issue.
Senior RJD leader Raghuvansh Prasad Singh feels the Bill was unlikely to be taken up for passage during the current session, as it will adversely impact the Congress’s prospects in poll-bound Bihar.
Senior Congress leader Mohsina Kidwai also wants the Bill deferred, albeit for a different reason. It will be appropriate, she said, for the government to discuss the fresh amendments with representatives of parties before placing it in the Lok Sabha.
Trinamool Congress leader and Union minister Sultan Ahmed also feels that the modified Bill should first be cleared by the Union Cabinet before being taken up in Parliament.
LJP general secretary Abdul Khalique, on the other hand, said the matter remains confined to a few elitist Muslims and does not concern the community.