Enemy Properties Will Now Be Open For Public Use
The Centre on March 11 allowed state governments to put to public use some enemy properties. The Centre has been trying to sell over 9,400 enemy properties, worth over Rs 1 lakh crore, and Rs 3,000 crore worth of enemy shares. The guidelines for disposal of the Enemy Property Order, 2018, has been amended to facilitate "usages of enemy property by the state government exclusively for public use".
The Lok Sabha in March 2017 passed the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2016. Earlier, the Rajya Sabha has given its approval to the Bill. The Bill denies inheritance rights to heirs of individuals, who left the country for Pakistan and China at the time of partition.
Where are these properties?
There are 9,280 such properties left behind by Pakistani nationals and 126 by Chinese nationals. Of the total properties left behind by those who took Pakistani citizenship, 4,991 are located in Uttar Pradesh, the highest in the country. West Bengal has 2,735 such estates and Delhi 487. The highest number of properties left by Chinese nationals is in Meghalaya (57).West Bengal has 29 such properties and Assam seven.
The estimated value of all enemy properties is approximately Rs 1 lakh crore.
Last month, the Centre had constituted a high-level committee to recommend the quantum and price or price band for sale of enemy shares, worth Rs 3,000 crore. A total 65,075,877 shares in 996 companies of 20,323 shareholders are under the custody of the Custodian of Enemy Property for India. Of these, 588 companies are functional. Of these, only 139 are listed companies.
What's the law?
After to the 1962 China-India War and the India-Pakistan wars of 1965 and 1971, many people moved to those countries and became nationals there. The Indian government took over the properties left behind by such people — often referred to as “enemy properties” — under the Defence of India Rules, framed under the Defence of India Act.
In the past, there have been several disputes by the legal heirs and successors claiming enemy property. Now, the latest proposed amendment will make the Centre the final custodian of such properties. The new draft Bill clarifies that even after the death of the “enemy” or even when the person ceases to be an “enemy”, his property will remain an 'enemy property'. The Act restrains the applicability of law of succession to such properties and also restricts their transfer, unless in accordance with the Act.