President Pranab Mukherjee Friday signed an ordinance amending the Enemy Property Act, 1968 to allow custodians to continue to hold possession over such properties.
The ordinance is aimed at amending the provisions of the Act declaring that all enemy property vested in the 'custodian' of enemy property would continue to vest in the custodian irrespective of the death or extinction of the enemy.
The Enemy Property Act was enacted in the year 1968 by the Government of India, which provided for the continuous vesting of enemy property in the Custodian. The Central Government through the Custodian of Enemy Property for India is in possession of enemy properties spread across many states in the country. In addition, there are also movable properties categorized as enemy properties.
To ensure that the enemy property continues to vest in the Custodian, appropriate amendments were brought in by way of an Ordinance in the Enemy Property Act, 1968 by the then Government in 2010.
This Ordinance, however lapsed on 6th September, 2010 and a bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on July 22, 2010. However, this bill was withdrawn and another bill with modified provisions was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 15th November, 2010.
This bill was thereafter referred to the Standing Committee. However, the said bill could not be passed during the 15th term of the Lok Sabha and it lapsed.
In the wake of the Indo-Pak war of 1965 and 1971, there was migration of people from India to Pakistan. Under the Defence of India Rules framed under the Defence of India Act, the Government of India took over the properties and companies of such persons who had taken Pakistani nationality. These enemy properties were vested by the Central Government in the Custodian of Enemy Property for India.
After the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, India and Pakistan signed the Tashkent Declaration on January 1966. The Tashkent Declaration inter alia included a clause, which said that the two countries would discuss the return of the property and assets taken over by either side in connection with the conflict. However, the Government of Pakistan disposed of all such properties in their country in the year 1971 itself.