The government has agreed to amend the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill 2010 to restore interests of genuine legal heirs who have inherited properties taken over by the state under the Enemy Property Act of 1968.
Home Minister P. Chidambaram spelt out the broad contours of the concessions he was prepared to make when he moves Parliament for passage of the proposed law when a delegation led by Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid met him on Friday.
Government sources said the home ministry intended to seek parliamentary approval for the legislation — to replace last month’s ordinance — in the ongoing session.
If the ordinance had not been promulgated, immovable enemy properties worth hundreds of crores of rupees would have fallen into the hands of persons who do not have any legitimate claim, Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Maken told the Lok Sabha.
Khurshid said it had been decided to make modifications to the draft bill. “The draft is being prepared”.
“We want the court to decide on who will inherit the enemy property and who should be given succession certificate,” Khurshid, accompanied by Union ministers Farooq Abdullah and E. Ahamed and MP Sultan Ahmed, said.
Suggesting that he and the home minister were on the same page, Khurshid said Chidambaram had been accommodative on their concerns and “we also have accepted the government’s concerns”.
The home ministry was agreeable to exempting those with proof that they were direct legal heir or successors to lay their claim to properties vested in the Custodian of Enemy Property. This would help the Raja of Mehmoodabad; he had stayed back in India when his father migrated to Pakistan in 1956.
But the home minister has made it clear that a large number of properties had been encroached. In many cases, people had produced forged documents, fought court cases for possession with other claimants and got orders in their favour.