The Select Committee of Rajya Sabha on the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2016 will hold its first meeting on Monday during which Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi will give a presentation.
The Select Committee, headed by BJP member Bhupender Yadav, has been asked to carry out a detailed scrutiny of the measure that seeks to guard against claims of succession or transfer of properties left by people who migrated to Pakistan and China after the wars and amend the Enemy Property Act, 1968.
The panel has been tasked to scrutinise the bill and submit its report in the opening week of the second part of the Budget Session.
Since it is the maiden meeting of the committee, which was set up on March 15, besides holding preliminary discussion on the bill it will discuss and finalize its sittings.
The panel will hear the presentation by the Home Secretary during the meeting where members are expected to seek clarifications regarding some provisions, which have raised eyebrows.
The Upper House had on March 15 adopted a motion for referring the Bill, which seeks to amend the Enemy Property Act, 1968, and the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971, as passed by Lok Sabha.
The panel was asked to submit the report by the last day of the first week of the second part of the Budget session.
The first part of the session, which began on February 23, concluded on March 16 while its second part will commence on April 25 and wrap up on May 13.
All parliamentary committees to which such Bills have been referred are expected to speedily scrutinise the bills during this recess period and submit them to Parliament when the second part of the session commences.
The Bill was passed by Lok Sabha on March 9 with the government overruling demands by some opposition parties that it be sent to the Standing Committee.
In the wake of the Indo-Pak wars of 1965 and 1971, there was migration of people from India to Pakistan and, under the Defence of India Rules framed under the Defence of India Act, the government took over the properties and companies of such persons as had taken Pakistani nationality.
These 'enemy properties' were vested with the Custodian of Enemy Property for India.
The amendments say 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.
The new Bill also ensures that the 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.
The amendments are aimed at plugging the loopholes in the Act to ensure that enemy properties that have been vested in the Custodian continue that way and do not revert to the enemy subject or enemy firm.
The Enemy Property Act was enacted in 1968 and provided for the continuous vesting of enemy property with the Custodian.
The Centre, through the Custodian, is in possession of enemy properties spread across the country. In addition, there are also movable properties categorised as enemy property.