Government passes Enemy Property Bill

The bill will amend a 49-year-old law to invalidate the claims of succession or transfer of property of those who left India. The opposition, including Congress, the Left, SP and JD(U), is against the bill on the grounds that it disadvantages Indian successors. But the government has countered this by pointing out that rights to properties lost by those who went to Pakistan, as is mostly the case, decades ago could not be restored now.

It wa s passed by voice vote in the RS despite the opposition demanding that the passage be deferred to next week, when more MPs would be present. There were very few opposition MPs in the House on Friday afternoon, all of whom walked out after the government insisted on taking up the bill for discussion.

Explaining the urgency to get the bill passed, FM and Leader of the House Arun Jaitley said the ordinance effecting amendments in the Act would lapse on March 14, 2017, and this was also a security issue also. He said it was a principle that the government not allow commercial interests or properties of an enemy country or its citizens.
The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha in March last year. After this, the RS sent it to a select committee, following which the government moved a number of amendments to it. After the amended bill was passed by a voice vote by the RS on Friday, it was returned to the LS for final passage just before the House was adjourned for the day.