UPSC GS 2 Notes: Enemy Property

Enemy property is the property left behind in India by people who took Pakistani and Chinese citizenship. The Enemy Property Act was enacted in 1968 after the 1965 war with Pakistan to regulate such properties. The ownership of these properties was passed on to a government department known as the Custodian for Enemy Property in India.

Enemy Property Act 2017

This Enemy Property Act was amended in 2017. As per the amended act, enemy property refers to any property belonging to, held or managed on behalf of an enemy, an enemy subject or an enemy firm. The new act ensures that the heirs of the people who migrated to China and Pakistan during partition and later on, will have no claim over the properties left behind in India by their ancestors. The law of succession does not apply to enemy property.

The Indian government has started the process of selling through auctions these properties in India which are more than 9400 in number and worth more than Rs. 1 lakh crore. It is noteworthy that our neighbour Pakistan has already disposed off such properties in their country, way back in 1971.

Details of Enemy Property in India

Properties left behind by Pakistani nationals: 9280 Properties left behind by Chinese nationals: 126
Location of such properties
4991 – Uttar Pradesh 57 – Meghalaya
2735 – West Bengal 29 – West Bengal
487 – Delhi 7 – Assam

Enemy Property Background

When war broke out in 1962 (with China) and in 1965 and 1971 (with Pakistan), the Government of India took over the properties of the citizens of China and Pakistan under the provisions of the Defence of India Acts. These legislations defined an ‘enemy’ as any country that committed acts of aggression against India and her citizens. Their properties were categorised as ‘enemy properties’. The properties include buildings, land, gold and jewellery and shares held in companies.

As per the Tashkent Declaration, signed in January 1966 after the end of hostilities during the 1965 war with Pakistan, both the countries were to discuss the return of properties taken over by either side during the war. However, Pakistan sold off all their enemy properties in 1971 itself.

Enemy property is a concept in law and polity and needs to be understood for the UPSC exam. This was also recently in the news as the law was amended in 2017 and the government has started auctioning off such properties.

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