Union Ministry of Home Affairs has initiated the process of evicting and selling enemy properties – immovable assets left behind by individuals who have taken citizenship in Pakistan and China. The move comes as part of the Indian government’s effort to monetize the estimated Rs 1 lakh crore worth of enemy properties in the country.
There are a total of 12,611 establishments called enemy property in India that are vested with the Custodian of Enemy Property for India (CEPI), an authority created under the Enemy Property Act. However, none of these immovable properties have been monetized so far by the government.
To expedite the process, the Home Ministry has changed the guidelines for disposal of enemy properties. As per the new guidelines, the process for eviction of enemy properties shall be initiated with the help of the District Magistrate or Deputy Commissioner concerned before the sale of properties. For enemy properties valued below Rs 1 crore, the custodian shall offer to sell to the occupant first, and if the offer of purchase is refused, then the property will be disposed of according to the guidelines.
For those enemy properties valued between Rs one crore and below Rs 100 crore, the CEPI shall dispose of them through e-auction or any other means as decided by the central government. The e-auction platform of public enterprise, the Metal Scrap Trade Corporation Limited, will be used by the CEPI for e-auction of enemy properties.
The government has earned over Rs 3,400 crore from the disposal of enemy properties, mostly movable assets like shares and gold, according to officials. The highest number of enemy properties were found in Uttar Pradesh, followed by West Bengal, Delhi, Goa, Maharashtra, Telangana, Gujarat, Tripura, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Haryana.
The Home Ministry has already launched a national survey of enemy properties, spread across 20 states and three Union Territories, to identify and subsequently monetize all such properties. The first-of-its-kind national survey by the Directorate General of Defence Estates (DGDE) will assess the present condition and value of the enemy properties identified by the CEPI.
The government formed a Group of Ministers (GoM), headed by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, in 2020 to supervise monetization of enemy properties. Out of the 12,611 properties vested with the CEPI, a total of 12,485 were related to Pakistani nationals and 126 to Chinese citizens.
It is important to note that “enemy property” refers to any property belonging to, held, or managed on behalf of an enemy, an enemy subject, or an enemy firm. This law was first enacted in India in 1968, following the India-Pakistan War of 1965. The Enemy Property Act allows the Indian government to seize enemy properties and vested them with the CEPI. The properties are then either disposed of or sold to Indian nationals, with the revenue going to the Indian government.