Mar 17, 2017 02:11 PM IST | Source:

Sale of 'enemy property' can add over Rs 1 lakh crore to govt coffers

These are properties left behind by people who moved to Pakistan or China during Partition.

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The passing of the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill 2016 by both Houses of Parliament will help the government mop up nearly Rs 1.04 lakh crore by monetising properties left behind by people who moved to Pakistan or China during Partition, according to a report by the ET Intelligence Group.

The erstwhile Enemy Property Act, 1968 granted the custodian rights to only the custody, management and administration of such assets.

Besides selling such properties, the amendment allows the Custodian of Enemy Property (CEP), functioning under the Home Ministry, to evict legal occupants. Being retrospective, it restricts right of transfer of any property. Also, with succession laws not applicable to such properties Civil courts are barred from any rulings on matters relating to them.

Last year, a Parliamentary Select Committee report on a bill listed 9,280 immovable properties owned by Pakistani nationals covering 11,882 acres and another 149 immovable properties belonging to Chinese nationals with custodians in West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Delhi. To go after so far undetected properties, the government is actively pursuing setting up of new custodian offices across the country.

Among movable bequeathed properties, the custodians held shares in 266 listed companies including Wipro, Cipla, ACC, Tata and DCM groups, Bombay Burmah Trading Co., Ballarpur Industries, DLF, Hindustan Unilever, ITC, Bajaj Electricals, India Cement and Aditya Birla Nuvo valued at Rs 2,610 crore. Besides, there were shares in another 318 unlisted companies worth Rs 24 crore, and gold and jewellery worth Rs 40 lakh.

It must be noted that "enemy property" is different from "evacuee property", which covers assets that are a result of India’s conflict with China and Pakistan.

As per recommendations of the select committee, the process of identification of enemy properties is to be done within two years from the date of passing the amendment, and the custodian should dispose of all non-contentious enemy properties without delay.
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