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Scrutiny
  
Finally, you may forget about it!
After 32 years, the Centre reiterates its irrevocable right over enemies
02/09/2010

This is as unfathomable and confounding as it gets, even by Indian standards of justice. Recently the Centre passed the long awaited (32 years long to be precise!) “enemy property bill”, which is expected to close all possible hue and cry over the issue. For the uninitiated, “enemy property” means the property left by those who left for Pakistan after partition. After the 1965 Indo-Pak war, both the countries promulgated the Enemy Property Act in 1968 and seized properties in the forms of lands, shares, bonds etc. as a matter of right. Pakistan seized assets worth `109 crore of Indians who left Pakistan and India seized assets worth `70.99 crore of those who migrated to Pakistan. Since then, Indian relatives of those who migrated have been claiming the land their relatives left behind.

The debate took an interesting turn when President Pratibha Patil passed an ordinance on July 2, 2010 against Amir Mohamed Khan, Raja of Mehmoodabad, preventing him from possessing properties worth `30,000 crore, which his parents had left when they migrated to Pakistan. After 32 years of courtroom drama, the SC gave him the right of possession. Pratibha Patil’s ordinance came all of sudden when his success led to agitation among several others to claim 20,000 other similar properties. The Centre had been quiet for fear of alienating the Muslim vote-bank but after the growing agitation, the Centre was forced to pass the bill to extend the President’s ordinance with a strict clause – once a property is labelled as “enemy property,” it cannot be claimed by relatives. Even the court cannot transfer ownership rights of such property.

Opposition leaders alleged that Union Ministers P. Chidambaram and Salman Khurshid were against the bill for vote-bank politics. Nevertheless, it is laudable that a decision was finally taken to end all speculation for good. For the Rajah though, this 32-year long exercise in futility will be terribly hard to digest!

By:- Akram Hoque
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