Modi government has earned 700 crore rupees in the first-ever sale of enemy assets. The Modi government allowed the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) to go ahead with the sale shares of enemies in companies in November 2018. Earlier in November 2018, the Modi government decided that the sale of the shares, held by the custodian of the enemy property will form part of disinvestment receipts. Enemy property is any asset held by the people who migrated to enemy countries like China, Pakistan during war.
One such example has been the court judgment that was passed in the case of the erstwhile Raja of Mahmudabad, who owned several large properties in Hazratganj, Sitapur and Nainital. Following partition, the Raja left the country and after The Enemy Property Act was enacted in the year 1968 by the Government of India, the Raja’s estate was declared an enemy property. When the Raja died, his son staked claim to these properties. After a legal battle that lasted over 30 years, an apex court Bench comprising Justice Ashok Bhan and Justice Altamas Kabir on October 21, 2005, ruled in favour of the son. This verdict opened floodgates for similar pleas across the country and eventually, on 2nd July 2010, the President of India had to step in and sign an Ordinance that restrained courts from ordering the government to divest enemy properties from the custodian. The 2005 Supreme Court order was rendered ineffective, and the custodian again took over Raja’s properties.
Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju introduced the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2016. The measure seeks to replace an ordinance promulgated to this effect on 7 January 2016. The bill declares that the transfer of enemy properties will be void. It also applies retrospectively to transfers that have occurred before or after 1968. This bill prevents any civil courts or any other authorities from entertaining disputes relates to enemy properties. Subsequently, the Modi government passed the bill in both the houses in March 2017.
Union home ministry which acts as a custodian of enemy properties has estimated that over 9400 enemy properties worth more than Rs 1 lakh crore were left behind by people who took citizenship of Pakistan and China. These people moved out of the country and took permanent accommodation in the host countries leaving behind the large properties. After the wars of 1962 Indian governments have taken control over these properties as enemy properties.
The Enemy Property Act was enacted by the Government of India after the Chinese aggression of 1962 and was promulgated in 1968 after the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965. It authorized the Central Government of India to appoint a custodian for all enemy properties.
Elsewhere around the world too, several countries have similar acts to manage properties created by war that can no longer be called ‘war loot’ under the Fourth Geneva Convention. And every country defines its own ‘enemies’. Apparently, a lot of properties and companies in India, spreading across many states in the country worth over thousands of crores of rupees in the form of movable (shares or bonds) or immovable (like buildings or land), were owned by people who chose to migrate to Pakistan after partition and post India-Pakistan war of 1965 and 1971, to Bangladesh, which was created after the 1971 Indo-Pakistan conflict and to China post the 1962 China-India War. All such properties come under the ambit of this act.