Lok Sabha passes amended enemy property bill

New Delhi: The Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed a bill to amend a 49-year-old law to guard against claims of succession or transfer by heirs of property left behind by those who migrated to Pakistan and China.

The Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2016, which was passed by the Rajya Sabha on March 10 at a time when the opposition benches were almost vacant, was passed by the Lower House with voice vote.

The bill had earlier been passed by the Lok Sabha in March last year. It had to be taken up by the House again to approve the amendments made to the bill by the Rajya Sabha.

The bill amends the Enemy Property Act, 1968, to vest all rights, titles and interests over enemy property in the custodian and declares transfer of property by the enemy as void.

This applies retrospectively to all transfers that have occurred after the Act was passed.

One of the controversial provisions of the bill is that it amends the definition of “enemy” and “enemy subject” to include the legal heir(s) or successor(s) of the enemy, even if the latter is a citizen of India or a non-enemy country.

According to the new bill, the law of succession will not apply to the legal heir(s) or successor(s) of the enemy.

The bill also prohibits civil courts and other authorities from entertaining disputes related to enemy property.