Explained: What is enemy property in India, and how has the government dealt with it?

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News : Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by Union Home Minister will monitor the disposal of over 9,400 enemy properties which the government estimates is worth about Rs 1 lakh crore.

Facts:

About Enemy property:

  • When wars broke out between India and China in 1962 and India and Pakistan in 1965 and 1971,the central government took over properties of citizens of China and Pakistan in India under the Defence of India Acts. 
  • These Acts define an enemy as a country that committed an act of aggression against India and its citizens.The properties of enemies in India were classified as enemy property.

How did India deal with enemy property?

  • Parliament of India enacted the Enemy Property Act in 1968.It provided for the continuous vesting of enemy property in the Custodian of Enemy Property for India. 
  • The central government through the Custodian is in possession of enemy properties spread across many states in the country.

About Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill,2016:

  • In 2017,Parliament passed The Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill,2016.
  • The bill amended The Enemy Property Act,1968 and The Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971.

Key features of the bill:

  • It makes the Custodian the owner of enemy property retrospectively from 1968.
  • It voids the legal sales undertaken by enemies of enemy properties since 1968.This means that a person who may have bought an enemy property in good faith when such sale and purchase was legal, now stands to lose the property.
  • It prohibits Indian citizens who are legal heirs of enemies from inheriting enemy property, and brings them within the definition of ‘enemy’.
  • It also prohibits civil courts and other authorities from hearing certain disputes relating to enemy property.