The President of India has promulgated the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Ordinance, 2016 on January 07, 2016 to make amendments to the Enemy Property Act, 1968.
The amendments through the Ordinance 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; that 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 above amendments to the Enemy Property Act, 1968 will plug 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.
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 However, this bill was withdrawn and another bill with modified provisions was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 15th November, 2010.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 1965 war, India and Pakistan signed the Tashkent Declaration on 10.01.1966. 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.