The Supreme Court on Monday refused to interfere with the NDA government’s decision to re-promulgate the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation Act), 2016 ordinance, saying it was a sensitive topic that did not require judicial intervention at this juncture.
Under the ordinance all movable and immovable assets of “enemies” and their legal heirs from hostile countries such as Pakistan and China vest with the Centre.
A bench of Chief Justice JS Khehar and Justice NV Ramana told the petitioner, Congress Rajya Sabha MP Hussain Dalwai, that enemy’s property must come to the country. “Government is free to promulgate the ordinance to take over such property,” the bench told his counsel verbally.
“An enemy’s property must come to the country. What happens when a person who is an enemy and is dead? His property must come to the country,” the bench said when Dalwai’s lawyer, senior advocate Anand Grover called the December 23, 2016 ordinance “unconstitutional” and “drastic.”
Grover said the Parliament was not taken into confidence by the government while issuing the ordinance.
Rejecting his contention, the bench said: “It depends upon the issue. If the issue is very serious, or affects national interests, they are free to do it (Govt). You are an MP. You must also be sensitive. It should be debated in Parliament. Should we interfere at this stage? You can always raise the issue in Parliament.” Grover then withdrew the petition.
The ordinance was re-promulgated by the Centre to amend the original “Enemy Property Act, 1968” and the “Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorized Occupants) Act 1971.”
The impugned ordinance, first brought in January last and re-promulgated in December, says the properties will continue to vest with the custodian not only on the enemy’s death but even if he/she has a legal heir who is an Indian, or the enemy changes his nationality to that of another country.