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Enemy properties

Topics Covered: Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.

Enemy properties:

Why in News?

Members of the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister have asked the government to consider selling enemy properties valued at over₹1 lakh crore to take care of the current expenditure which will drive growth.

What are enemy properties?

Properties that were left behind by the people who took citizenship of Pakistan and China.

  • There are more than 9000 such properties left behind by Pakistani nationals and 126 by Chinese nationals.
  • Of the total properties left behind by those who took Pakistani citizenship, 4,991 are located in Uttar Pradesh, the highest in the country. West Bengal has 2,735 such estates and Delhi 487.
  • The highest number of properties left by Chinese nationals is in Meghalaya (57).West Bengal has 29 such properties and Assam seven.

Who oversees these properties?

Under the Defence of India Rules framed under The Defence of India Act, 1962, the Government of India took over the properties and companies of those who took Pakistani nationality.

  • These “enemy properties” were vested by the central government in the Custodian of Enemy Property for India. The same was done for property left behind by those who went to China after the 1962 Sino-Indian war.
  • The Tashkent Declaration of January 10, 1966 included a clause that said India and Pakistan would discuss the return of the property and assets taken over by either side in connection with the conflict.

However, the Government of Pakistan disposed of all such properties in their country in the year 1971 itself.

How did India deal with enemy property?

The Enemy Property Act, enacted in 1968, provided for the continuous vesting of enemy property in the Custodian of Enemy Property for India. Some movable properties too, are categorised as enemy properties.

The Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2017:

The act amended The Enemy Property Act, 1968, and The Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971.

Salient features of the new act:

Expanded the definition of the term enemy subject and enemy firm: To include

  1. The legal heir and successor of an enemy, whether a citizen of India or a citizen of a country which is not an enemy and
  2. The succeeding firm of an enemy firm, irrespective of the nationality of its members or partners.

The enemy property continues to vest in the Custodian:

Even if the enemy or enemy subject or enemy firm ceases to be an enemy due to death, extinction, winding up of business or change of nationality, or that the legal heir or successor is a citizen of India or a citizen of a country which is not an enemy.

Power to dispose these properties:

The Custodian may dispose of enemy properties:

With prior approval of the central government, the Custodian may dispose of enemy properties vested in him in accordance with the provisions of the Act, and the government may issue directions to the Custodian for this purpose.


Prelims Link:

  1. What are enemy properties?
  2. Which state has highest number of these properties in India?
  3. Who oversees them?
  4. Who has powers to sell them?
  5. Changes introduced by Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2017.

Mains Link:

What are enemy properties? How are they classified? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.