Prez Mukherjee Signs Ordinance On Enemy Property Act

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New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee has signed an Ordinance, or executive order, making amendments to the Enemy Property Act, which plugs the loopholes in the law that guards against claims on properties left by people who migrated to Pakistan and China after the wars of 1962, 1965 and 1971.   Sources said at the time, he also made a few observations about the ordinance being brought thrice — saying he hoped it would be brought as a bill since it was passed by a joint select committee of Parliament.

President Mukherjee has been vocal about Ordinances, or executive acts, brought by the government since the Uttarakhand High court quashed the Presidential order imposing Central rule in the state. At the time, he had to face criticism from a section of Congress, which alleged that the Ordinance was signed without adequate deliberation. Last month, before signing the Ordinance to put NEET or the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test on hold, the President had sought legal advice and asked the health ministry a number of questions.

The Enemy Property Act was put in place in 1968, under which the government vested the property of people who had migrated to China and Pakistan after the wars of 1962 and 1967 in a department called the Custodian of Enemy Property for India. But now, amendments have been suggested to guard against the claims of succession or transfer of properties.

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One of the key changes envisaged is that once an enemy property is vested in the Custodian, it shall continue to be vested in it even if the enemy stops being an enemy due to death, migration, change of nationality etc. Another proposed change says the law of succession will not apply to enemy property even if the enemy’s successor is an Indian national.

It has also been proposed that there cannot be transfer of any property vested in the Custodian by an enemy and that the Custodian shall preserve the enemy property till it is disposed of in accordance with the provisions of the Act.

India is in possession of enemy properties spread across many states. In addition, there are movable properties categorised as enemy properties.