Modi govt passes long-pending Enemy Property Bill in both the houses

Parliament house

New Delhi: Both the houses of Parliament recently passed the long-pending Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2016, which provides power to the government to seize properties left behind by those who migrated to Pakistan or China after wars.
The Lok Sabha on Tuesday (March 14) passed the long-pending bill through a voice vote after amendments passed by the Rajya Sabha earlier were incorporated. The upper house had passed the bill on Friday (March 10).
Five ordinances on the bill have been promulgated in past years. The last of these ordinances would have expired on Tuesday.
Amir Mohammed Khan, the heir of an erstwhile Raja of Mehmoodabad – who is contesting a case in the Supreme Court for ownership of 900 properties in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand –could turn out to be the biggest loser.
Actor Sharmila Tagore and her children, including Saif Ali Khan, may also get affected by the legislation, as someone in the family of her late husband Mansoor Ali Khan was said to have settled in Pakistan four decades ago.
“The purpose of the bill is to clarify the 1968 Act. Inheritance law will not be applicable on enemy properties.This will put an end to the long pending issue which should have ideally happened in 2010, when the bill was introduced,” said home minister Rajnath Singh in his reply to a debate on the bill.
Meanwhile, rejecting the contention of N K Premchandran of the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) and other Opposition members that the bill violated the principles of “natural justice” and amounted to “human rights violations”, the home minister said: “Pakistan has seized the properties of Indian citizens. It will be natural justice if their properties (of those who migrated to Pakistan) are not returned”.
I may be noted that the measure was passed by the Lok Sabha in March last year, and later the Rajya Sabha had sent it to a select committee, following whose recommendations, the government had moved a number of amendments to it. After the amended bill was passed by a voice vote by the Rajya Sabha on Friday, it was returned to the Lok Sabha for final passage just before it was adjourned for the day.

Bill to hit 1,519 properties in UP

The enemy property bill will affect 1,519 properties in UP. The Raja of Mahmudabad, who holds 936 properties across UP and Uttarakhand, will be the most affected.
After the bill turns into an Act, the custodian appointed by the Central government will take control of all the properties identified as ‘enemy property’, seizing the heir’s right to ancestral property.
As many as 622 of the 1519 properties in UP are already vested with the ‘custodian’ and 897 are in the process.
Retrospective amendment to the Enemy Property (EP) Act of 1968 will cause maximum impact to Raja of Mahmudabad. Some of his properties were given back to him after an SC order in 2005, which followed a long drawn legal battle, only to be re-vested in the government custodian on promulgation of the EP Ordinance of 2010.
As the Raja went against the same in the SC, his matter has since then been sub-judice. The Raja had also challenged the ordinance promulgated in January 2016 calling it “wholly arbitrary and violative” of his fundamental rights under Articles 14 and 21 of the Indian constitution.
Reacting to the passage of the bill, he said: “The government was in a rush to get this bill passed, motivated primarily to appease a limited section of a community with specific Hindutva views that are not upheld by its majority.
In 1965, after hostilities between India and Pakistan broke out, the Enemy Property (Custody and Registration) Order, 1962 was issued.
It was in 1973, when his father died in London, that Raja Mahmudabad inherited the properties under Oudh Estate Act, 1869 and as a citizen of India himself, contested to be handed over the properties.

(With Agency Inputs)

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