Union home ministry has tasked Living Tired Custodian of Enemy Property (CEP) of India to prepare a complete status list of enemy properties. The Centre plans to act and take possession of all such properties.
A top government source said there are 9547 enemy properties, having an estimated worth of more than Rs. 1.1 lakh crore, scattered in important cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Bhopal, Hyderabad, and Lucknow, etc.
“Court cases are pending against 1215 properties. Most of the other properties are under illegal possession and occupation at prime locations in key cities. They can be used to serve government needs that are falling short of space in premium locations.”
Enemy properties are those abandoned properties that the government took over when their owners chose to leave India and move to Pakistan and China after Partition and the 1965 and 1971 wars.
“It is better if the government takes possession of all such enemy properties before they also get mired in court cases that linger on for years,” said the source. Recently, the government has taken possession of 31 such properties and decided to give their possession to the central reserve police force (CRPF) and border security force (BSF) facing a space crunch for their offices.
The Government of India had created the office of CEP under the Enemy Property Act, 1968, soon after the 1965 war, to tackle the growing list of abandoned buildings and their encroachment.
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The new move comes after the government failed to pass an amendment in the law governing the enemy property. The amended act says once the custodian’s office becomes responsible for a property, it shall continue to remain enemy property even if the original owner ceases to the country’s foe. Besides, the law of succession will not apply to enemy property and cannot be transferred as well.
The bill failed to pass in the Rajya Sabha because of protests by the opposition parties, following which an ordinance was promulgated to keep the amendment in force.