Rajya Sabha passes Enemy Property Bill

Rajya Sabha passes Enemy Property Bill

The Rajya Sabha today passed the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2016 with some amendments moved by the government amid the walkout by the opposition. The Bill, moved by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, will replace the ordinance promulgated by the government.

It guards against claims of succession or transfer of properties left by people who migrated to Pakistan and China after wars. The Bill amends the Enemy Property Act, 1968, to vest all rights, titles and interests over enemy property in the Custodian. After the Indo-Pak War of 1965, the Enemy Property Act was enacted in 1968, which regulates such properties and lists the Custodian’s powers. As per the amendments, once an enemy property is vested in the Custodian, it will continue to be vested in him as enemy property irrespective of whether the enemy, enemy subject or enemy firm has ceased to be an enemy due to reasons such as death.

The amendments are aimed at plugging the loopholes in the Act to ensure that the enemy properties that have been vested in the Custodian remain so and do not revert to the enemy subject or enemy firm.

Earlier, the opposition members demanded deferring of the debate on the legislation for a threadbare deliberation next week. However, the government decided to take up the bill itself for passage. Explaining the rationale for urgency to get the bill passed, Finance Minister and Leader of the House Mr Arun Jaitely said the ordinance effecting the amendments in the Act would lapse on 14th of March and this is a security issue also.

Elaborating on the measure, he said it was a principle that government should not allow commercial interests or properties of an enemy country or its citizens. Mr Jaitley said the right of the enemy property should vest in the Government of India and not in the heirs of the citizens of the enemy countries. After the amended bill was passed by by the Rajya Sabha , it was returned to the Lok Sabha for final passage just before it was adjourned for the day.

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