President Pranab Mukherjee is believed to have raised questions on the Centre’s move to push another ordinance to allow a department to continue to hold sway over “enemy” properties in the country. However, Mukherjee has cleared the ordinance for the fifth time.
The legislation related to the ordinance could not be passed for at least three years, prompting the Centre to go the ordinance route to maintain a status quo. Sources told HT that the President questioned why the government was unable to pass the bill and was pushing ordinances one after another.
WHAT IS THE ENEMY PROPERTY ACT? The 1968 law empowered the Custodian of Enemy Property to hold properties of Pakistani and Chinese nationals after the wars in 1962, 1965 and 1971. Many of these were properties left behind during PartitionWHAT IS THE NEW ORDINANCE? The 2016 ordinance nullifies all deals to transfer properties since 1968 and stipulates that once an enemy property is vested in the Custodian, it won’t matter if the legal heir is an Indian citizen or not
According to the Custodian of Enemy Property, the current estimated number of such estates is 16,000
ENEMY PROPERTIES IN INDIA
MUMBAI: Kishori Court, Moti Talkies. BHOPAL: Flatstaff House. LUCKNOW: Butler Palace, Lawrie Building
The law provides that all properties belonging to persons who had left the country and gone to Pakistan or China — the two countries that had waged war against India — were by definition ‘enemy properties’ and had to be taken over by the government.
The custodian of enemy property for India is an Indian government department that is empowered to appropriate such property in India. After the India-Pakistan war of 1965, the Enemy Property Act was promulgated in 1968.
Both the erstwhile UPA government and the NDA has struggled to pass the bill in Parliament.
In the recently-concluded winter session, the government could not get the bill passed as the Opposition resorted to disruptions to protest against demonetisation.
“The last time, when an ordinance was proposed on the legislation, the President was unhappy and wanted to know why it was not passed for such a long time,” said a source.
The source added that Mukherjee maintains that ordinances should be used only in rare cases and Parliament should debate and clear bills.