NEW DELHI: A Bill seeking to guard against claims of succession or transfer of properties left by people who migrated to Pakistan and China after the wars, which was passed by Lok Sabha last week, was on Tuesday surprisingly referred to a Rajya Sabha House Committee for detailed scrutiny.
The Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2016, which amends the Enemy Property Act, 1968 was referred to a 23-member Committee headed by BJP member Bhupender Yadav.
The decision to refer the bill to a House Committee was taken at a meeting of leaders of groups, who wanted a detailed discussion on the measure.
The Bill was passed by Lok Sabha on March 9 with the government overruling demands by some opposition parties for sending it to the Standing Committee of Parliament.
In the wake of the Indo-Pak war of 1965 and 1971, there was migration of people from India to Pakistan and 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 New Delhi in the Custodian of Enemy Property for India.
The amendments include that once an enemy property is vested in the custodian, it shall 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 etc.
The new bill also ensures that the law of succession does not apply to enemy property; that there cannot be transfer of any property vested in the Custodian by an enemy or enemy subject or enemy firm and that the Custodian shall preserve the enemy property till it is disposed of in accordance with the provisions of the Act.
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 they do not revert back to the enemy subject or enemy firm.
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.