No Lucknow properties will go to Pakistani heirs of the Raja of Mahmudabad, Enemy Property Bill ensures

The retrospective effect clause of the bill had been contentious, besides the provision that no enemy properties could pass onto the heirs of those who had migrated to Pakistan or China.

Published: 14th March 2017 09:06 PM  |   Last Updated: 14th March 2017 09:06 PM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Close on the heels of the historical Uttar Pradesh poll victory, the NDA government at the Centre on Tuesday sealed the fate of the heirs of the Raja of Mahmudabad who had owned several properties in Hazaratganj and various other parts of the state by finally getting the Parliamentary nod to “The Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2016.

The retrospective effect clause of the bill had been contentious, besides the provision that no enemy properties could pass onto the heirs of those who had migrated to Pakistan or China.

The final Parliamentary nod came on a day when the fifth Ordinance was set to lapse on Tuesday. The Lok Sabha passed the Bill as amended by the Rajya Sabha after the report of the Select Committee of the House.

The bill seeks to replace the 49 years old law, which had vested the ownership over the enemy properties to the custodian appointed by the government. However, a lower court verdict in favour of the heirs of the Raja of Mahmudabad had opened demands to amend the law to ensure that the assets claimed to be over Rs 1 lakh crore across the country don’t pass onto the sons and daughters of those who had migrated.

But now heirs of such people cannot claim ownership nor any lower court can intervene in such matters, as the whole right would be vested with the custodians.

But the Hazratganj area in Lucknow, which is dotted with the properties of the Raja who went to Pakistan, is now full of tenants who eke out their livelihoods. The Union Minister for Home Affairs Rajnath Singh, while replying to the discussion on the Bill, stated that the tenants would not be affected by the changes. But, he added, the tenancy laws of the states would apply on tenants occupying the enemy properties.

Incidentally, the enemy property is defined as any property, which belongs to or is being held and managed on behalf of an enemy, an enemy subject or a firm. The custodian is an office created by the Central government to manage such properties.

However, a few of the MPs claimed that the Bill is against the natural justice, which was countered by the minister, who stated that Pakistan had already seized the properties of people who migrated to India after the partition and the 1965 Indo-Pak war. 

While stating that the enemy properties are worth thousands of crores, Singh said that the process of identification of such assets would continue as part of the ongoing exercise.

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