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Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Ordinance, 2016

The President of India on 7th January 2016 promulgated the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Ordinance, 2016 to make amendments to the existing Enemy Property Act, 1968, which discusses the course of law pertaining to Custodians and Enemy properties.

Enemy Property Act, 1968
During and after India’s war with Pakistan in 1965, there was a migration of people from India to Pakistan, who later accepted Pakistani citizenship. The property left behind by such people had been confiscated by the Government of India according to the Defence of India Act. The enemy properties were then deemed to be vested with the Custodian of Enemy Property for India. It was then that the Enemy Property Act was enacted by the government, in 1968.

After the 1965 war, India and Pakistan signed the Tashkent Declaration on 10 January 1966. The Tashkent Declaration inter alia included a clause, which said that the two countries 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.

The 2016 Amendment in the Enemy Property Act, 1968
The amendments introduced by the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Ordinance, 2016 deals with the loopholes in the existing Enemy Property Act, 1968, and ensures that enemy properties confiscated by the Custodian will remain vested with the Custodian and not revert to the enemy subject or firm regardless of whether there exists a state of enmity with the opponent party later on, due to death or extinction of the enemy.

The amendments through the Ordinance include that once an enemy property is vested in the Custodian, it shall continue to be vested in him as enemy property irrespective of whether the enemy, enemy subject or enemy firm has ceased to be an enemy due to reasons such as death etc; that law of succession does not apply to enemy property; that there cannot be transfer of any property vested in the Custodian by an enemy or enemy subject or enemy firm and that the Custodian shall preserve the enemy property till it is disposed of in accordance with the provisions of the Act.

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