Disposing of enemy properties

Continuing with the spree of taking decisions which normally should have been taken long back in a progressive manner, the Central Government in yet another innovative decision has decided to cause 9400 odd properties classified and identified as ‘Enemy Properties’ to be sold. This is a welcome decision as these assets valuing at over Rs. 1 lakh crore lying unutilised and proving slightly expensive in looking after and maintaining them, needed to be disposed of . The proceeds thereof going into the coffers of the Government could be put to productive use for the benefit of the people. These properties are the ones left behind by those people who preferred to take citizenship of Pakistan and China in 1947 and 1962 respectively and Uttar Pradesh is the State with highest number of such left out properties followed by West Bengal. These properties and assets comprise land, buildings, shares held in companies, jewellery etc. of the citizens of the enemy countries.
Unfortunately, such a climate of political opportunism, of late, has emerged in this country that even naming such properties as “Enemy Property” would have been objected to in the burst of opposing for the sake of opposition but since an Act under the nomenclature of ‘Enemy Property’ was enacted way back in 1968 , opposing it would become untenable and uncalled for . The Act otherwise enables the Government to regulate appropriation of properties in India ‘owned’ by Pakistani nationals and ownership is passed to the Government – Department of Custodian for Enemy Property in India. However, an amendment to the Act was passed by the Parliament in 2017 which besides other things, ‘exempts’ the courts in India from entertaining any disputes arising out of and related to enemies properties as also bar successors of those who migrated to the two enemy countries from any claim over such properties left behind in India. This was necessitated to pre-empt any moves of any so called stake holders or their political advocates and sympathisers in matters of sale and disposal of sale proceeds of these properties leading to courts in intervening in the appropriation of these properties as several judgments were delivered by courts including by the Supreme Court whereby even operation of the Law of Succession to the legal heirs of the enemy subject was granted and awarded . Besides , the powers and the extent of time period of the custodian in matters of managing , control and preservation of enemy property was for ‘limited period’ as well as the purpose, even the enemy could sell the property etc etc. So, legislative remedy under constitutional provisions was resorted to.
The move of the Government in causing such properties to be sold needs to be seen in the light of the need to monetisation of movable properties which were otherwise lying in a state of dormancy for decades together and sale proceeds treated as Government revenue could be spent on the welfare of the people. The move has been pushed ahead after due preparations and necessary spade work having been done in January this year itself by identifying and evaluating such properties which by estimates have been put at over Rs.1 lakh crore and in the process of auction etc could fetch more. To ensure that selling these properties was done in the most transparent and proper form with joint support and coordination, the Government has set up three committees of high level powers and functions , one of which will be headed by the Home Minister himself and it is hoped that the process of disposing of the assets concerned shall be smooth and with better yields.