Amid the rising tension between India and China on the border issue, there is constant deterrant that is stopping China from waging war on India. In case of a war, India could confiscate the properties and investments of the Chinese companies under the Enemy Property Act, and to sell old properties left by nationals from these countries. China and Pakistan have been designated as enemy countries as they have fought wars against India, and therefore, properties and investment by companies and citizens of these countries can be confiscated under the Enemy Property Act, 1968.
Congress Rajya Sabha MP and eminent lawyer Vivek Tankha wrote a letter to the union government on Tuesday and argued that “China and Pakistan are two enemy states” as per the website of Custodian of Enemy Property.
“I have written a letter to the Government of India and said that China was always an enemy state. There are thousands of cases still pending post-1962. It has been protecting and supporting Pakistan, ISI in its terrorist activities against India. China is not a friendly state and we hence, should not do trade with enemies,” said Tankha.
In January this year, former Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir told Lok Sabha that as of 2018, a total of 9,280 enemy properties had been left behind by Pakistani nationals and 126 by Chinese. The total value of these properties is approximately 1 lakh crore rupees.
In April last year, Custodian of Enemy Property of India (CEPI), the arm of the Home Ministry that was tasked with the selling of enemy property shares, earned around 1800 crore rupees by selling enemy property and shares. 1,100 crore rupees was earned by selling enemy shares in Wipro alone, and the rest from various other properties.
“The custodian (CEPI) has far-reaching powers under section 5A of the Act, to conduct inquiry and declare vesting of enemy property in him and to deal with it under section 8 of the Act,” said Tankha, arguing that Chinese investment should be declared as enemy property. “Chinese investments are deep-rooted in the Indian economy with an estimated $ 6.2 billion across myriad sectors. The value of Chinese investment holding in listed Indian companies stood at Rs 3,257 crore in March 2020,” he added.
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.
The act was updated and sharpened by Modi government through 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.
China has a lot of stake in India as Chinese companies like Xiaomi run their operations here.
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 war and to China post the 1962 China-India War. All such properties come under the ambit of this act.