Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Ordinance promulgated to amend the Enemy Property Act, 1968

The Enemy Property (Amendment and
Validation) Ordinance, 2016 was promulgated on January 7, 2016.

 The Ordinance amends the Enemy Property Act, 1968 and the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants)
Act, 1971.
After the India-Pakistan wars of 1965 and 1971, the central government took over the properties (called ‘enemy properties’) of those who migrated from India and became citizens of Pakistan (i.e., ‘enemy’). These properties were vested in the office of the ‘custodian of enemy property’, instituted under the central government.
 The 1968 Act regulates rights over these enemy properties, and the powers of their custodian.
In July 2010, an Ordinance was introduced to amend the Act (subsequently lapsed).

 This Ordinance clarified that the office of the custodian will retain its power over enemy properties, even after the enemy dies, or if the legal heir is an Indian citizen, or the enemy changes his nationality, etc.
The 2016 Ordinance also provides for the same.

In addition, it amends the Act to broaden the definition of enemies. For instance, the Act provided that a citizen of India cannot be considered an enemy. Under the 2016
Ordinance, legal heirs of enemies (even if they are Indian citizens) will be considered enemies.

This will mean they will not be able to inherit enemy properties, or enjoy any benefits arising from them.

The 2016 Ordinance also modifies powers of the custodian of enemy property. For example, it adds the power to fix and collect rent, and evict unauthorised occupants from such properties.

For the purpose of allowing regulation of
unauthorised occupants in case of enemy
properties, the Ordinance also makes some
amendments to the 1971 Act.

The 2016 Ordinance has retrospective effect
from the date of commencement of the 1968 Act. This is to ensure that transfers of enemy property that had taken place before its promulgation are deemed ineffective if they violate its provision. All such properties will continue to vest with the custodian.
For a comparison of the two Ordinances, please see here

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