An ordinance to amend a nearly 50-year-old law to guard against claims of succession or transfer of properties left by people who migrated to Pakistan and China after wars is likely to be re-promulgated for the fifth time as the Union Cabinet today approved a proposal to this effect.
Once promulgated, it will be for the fifth time the Enemy Property (Amendment) Ordinance will be re-issued. The ordinance will now be sent to the President for his assent.
Sources said after the Cabinet meeting that the ordinance needs to be re-promulgated as a bill to amend the law could not be passed in Parliament due to repeated adjournments over the demonetisation issue.
“The bill was referred to the select committee of the Rajya Sabha as the Congress had pressed for it. We agreed and incorporated recommendations of the committee, still the bill was not allowed to pass,” a senior government functionary said.
The move is being taken to amend the nearly five-decade old Enemy Property Act to guard against claims of succession or transfer of properties left by people who migrated to Pakistan and China after wars.
“Enemy property” refers to any property belonging to, held or managed on behalf of an enemy, an enemy subject or an enemy firm.
The government has vested these properties in the Custodian of Enemy Property for India, an office instituted under the central government.
After the Indo-Pakistan War of 1965, the Enemy Property Act was enacted in 1968, which regulates such properties and lists the Custodian’s powers.
The Ordinance was for the first time promulgated on January 7 this year. It was passed by the Lok Sabha on March 9 but was subsequently referred to Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha.
It was re-promulgated for the second time on April 2 and a third time incorporating the amendments suggested by the Rajya Sabha Select Committee on May 31.
Since its validity expired on August 28, the President promulgated the fourth Ordinance on the subject a day before.
An ordinance is promulgated again as Parliament is not in session and a bill to replace it is not passed. An ordinance lapses after 42 days from the day a session begins unless a bill to replace it is approved by Parliament.
As per the proposed amendments, 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 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.
Enemy properties are spread across many states in the country.