M A I N   N E W S

Enemy Property Ordinance dropped
Anita Katyal & Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 7
The Cabinet today dropped the proposal to bring in a fresh ordinance ensuring the continuation of vesting of “Enemy Property” with the Custodian of India. The original ordinance to this effect was brought in a little before the Monsoon Session of Parliament and then a Bill introduced to enact a law on the same lines.

That ordinance was imposed to prevent the Raja of Mehmoodabad, to reclaim his properties worth several hundred crores, spread all over UP and beyond from custodian restored to him by the Supreme Court.

In effect, it took the Enemy Property out of the purview of courts, preventing anyone from approaching the courts against custodian’s decision to acquire his or her property as the Enemy Property.

Soon after Home Minister P Chidambarm introduced the Bill in Parliament in the last Monsoon Session, Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khursheed lobbied hard to prevent its passage, arguing that it would hurt the interests of a cross-section of Muslims and would be unjust to the raja.

On the other hand, the BJP insisted on retaining the Bill in the form of the original ordinance. Chidambram addressed the concerns of the Muslims by restoring the court’s jurisdiction and addressing the BJP concerns by ensuring that the occupants would not be thrown out summarily.

Yet the Bill had to be dropped because it failed to convince either secular leaders like Lalu Prasad and Mulayam Singh Yadav or BJP leader Sushma Swaraj.

Chidambram brought in before the Cabinet today an ordinance on the lines of the amended Bill he was pushing. But Salman Khursheed as Minority Affairs Minister opposed it. He mentioned how neither the Congress leadership nor party workers were happy with the Bill.

Chidambarm said there were 50 properties owned at some point of time by Chinese, which were now with the custodian as Enemy properties. Similarly, there were also some properties belonging to Germans, which were acquired at the time of World War, and if a new law was not brought, fresh claimants for all these properties would be encouraged to go to courts to make frivolous claims.

Salman was reportedly supported by several ministers, including Jairam Ramesh and in turn Chidambram found in Kapil Sibal a good advocate for his cause.

But the overwhelming view, according to sources, was that while the proposed ordinance had addressed the concerns of both Muslims and the BJP, there was no hurry to push it as it would be seen as cocking a snook at the Supreme Court.





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