The President of India has promulgated the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Fifth Ordinance, 2016 (8 of 2016) on 22nd December, 2016.
After the Indo-China aggression in 1962, specific properties of Chinese nationals in India were vested in the Custodian in terms of Defence of India Rules, 1962. Subsequently, after the Indo-Pak conflict in 1965 & 1971, the movable / immovable properties of Pakistani nationals automatically got vested in the Custodian of Enemy Property for India and their vesting was continued in the Custodian by the Enemy Property Act, 1968.
Reasons behind promulgation of the Enemy Property ordinance
Actually, 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.
The Government of Pakistan has disposed of all the properties of Indians impounded by them in Pakistan, including in erstwhile East Pakistan.
There are 16,547 enemy properties worth Rs 1 lakh crore across India which enemy nationals can put their claims on, hence the need to promulgate the Enemy Property ordinance was felt by the government.
But taking advantage of the interpretations of various judgments passed by the courts, claims are being made to regain these properties by the legal heirs and successors of the enemy nationals.
To prevent the vested properties, the Ordinance for the first time was promulgated on 7th January, 2016. It was passed by Lok Sabha on 9th March, 2016. Subsequently it was referred to a Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha. While it was being considered by the Select Committee, the Ordinance was promulgated for the second time on 2nd April, 2016. Select Committee submitted its report to the House on 6th May, 2016. The Ordinance was then issued for the third time on 31st May, 2016 incorporating the amendments recommended by the Select Committee. As the Bill could not be considered in Rajya Sabha, the said Ordinance was promulgated for the fourth time on 28th August, 2016.
The amendments are aimed at plugging the loopholes in the principal Act to ensure that the enemy properties worth thousands of crores of rupees vested in the Custodian do not revert to the enemy, enemy subject or enemy firm.
Thus, in the larger public interest and to safeguard the interest of Central Government, the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Fifth Ordinance, 2016 (8 of 2016) has been promulgated.
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