What is “enemy property”?
- In the wake of the India-Pakistan wars of 1965 and 1971, there was migration of people from India to Pakistan. Under the Defence of India Rules framed under The Defence of India Act, 1962, the Government of India took over the properties and companies of those who took Pakistani nationality.
- Some movable properties too, are categorised as enemy properties.
- These “enemy properties” were vested by the central government in the Custodian of Enemy Property for India. The same was done for property left behind by those who went to China after the 1962 Sino-Indian war.
- The Tashkent Declaration of January 10, 1966 included a clause that said India and Pakistan 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.
How did India deal with enemy property?
- The Enemy Property Act, enacted in 1968, 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.
- In 2017, Parliament passed The Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2017, which expanded the definition of the term “enemy subject”, and “enemy firm” to include the legal heir and successor of an enemy and the succeeding firm of an enemy firm.
- The thrust of the amendments was to guard against claims of succession or transfer of properties left by people who migrated to Pakistan and China after the wars. The amendments denied legal heirs any right over enemy property.
- The Custodian, with prior approval of the central government, may dispose of enemy properties vested in him in accordance with the provisions of the Act, and the government may issue directions to the Custodian for this purpose.
Why in News?
- Nilesh Shah, a part-time member of the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister, said that India should look at selling enemy properties valued at over ₹1 lakh crore to take care of the current expenditure which will drive growth.
- He said the assets were valued at ₹1 lakh crore three years ago and added that this is the best time to remove encroachments and clear title deficiencies to sell such properties.
- Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC-PM) is a non-constitutional, non-permanent and independent body constituted to give advice on economic and related issues to the Government of India, specifically to the Prime Minister.
- The Terms of Reference of EAC-PM include analyzing any issue, economic or otherwise, referred to it by the Prime Minister and advising him thereon, addressing issues of macroeconomic importance and presenting views thereon to the Prime Minister.
- These could be either suo-motu or on reference from the Prime Minister or anyone else.
- The chairman is appointed from time to time when the body is constituted.