The Enemy Property Act, 1968

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The Enemy Property Act, 1968 was enacted by Indian Parliament in the Nineteenth Year of the Republic of India as Act No. 34 of 1968 Dated 20th August, 1968 with the aim and object for providing vesting in continuation of enemy property vested in the Custodian, of Enemy property for India under the Defence of India Rules, 1962, and for relevant matters. The Act came into force on 10th July, 1968. The extension and application of this Act is whole of India but not at State of Jammu and Kashmir and this Act further speaks of its applicability over all citizens of India outside India and to branches and agencies of companies registered in India situated outside India.

Section 2 of the Act provides for Definition of certain terms used in the Act, including Custodian, Enemy Property, etc. Section 3 of the Act provides for appointment of Custodian, one or more Deputy Custodians or Assistant Custodians of Enemy Property to be appointed by Central Government by Notification in Official Gazette for such local areas as specified in the Notification issued by Central Government.

Further, Section 4 of the Act provides for Inspectors of Enemy Property to be appointed by Central Government either one or more in number for securing compliance with provisions of the Act. Moreover, Section 5 of the Act speaks that such property which was originally vested in Custodian of Enemy property for India as per the Defence of India Rules, 1962 should continued to vest in Custodian on coming into force of this Act. Section 6 of the Act says that if any property vested in Custodian under this Act and has been transferred by enemy and Central Government if deems that such transfer being injurious to the interest of Public or if such transfer was made with a view to hurt vesting of such property with Custodian, as such this transfer be declared as void and also makes such order to remain property vest in the Custodian.

Section 7 of the Act makes provisions as to payment to Custodian of any sums for benefit of an enemy unless opposite ordered by Central Government. Section 8 of the Act empowers Custodian in respect of enemy property vested in him. Same provision provides that Custodian to initiate such measures as he considers necessary for preserving such property and expenditure incurred necessary for the maintenance of Individual enemy or his family in India, if property belongs to such Individual enemy subject. For said purpose Custodian may carry on business of the enemy, he may also take actions for recovering any money due to the enemy, he may enter contract or execute any document in name of or in behalf of such enemy, etc.

All enemy property vested in Custodian under this Act is exempted from attachment, seizure or sale in execution of decree of Civil Court or Orders of any of the Authority as per Section 9 of the Act. Section 10 of the Act says that if Custodian proposes to sell any security i.e. shares, stocks, bonds debentures and debenture stock belonging to enemy, the Company may with consent of such Custodian purchase the securities.

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Section 11 of the Act provides for power of Custodian to summon persons whom he believes to be capable of giving information concerning any enemy property or documents thereof to attend before him and produce such information or documents. Section 15 of the Act is relating to submission of Returns called for by Custodian from persons who have any interest in any enemy property vested in him under this Act. Such returns are mandatory and should be submitted within mandatory period as per sub section (2) of Section 15 of the Act. Under Section 16 of the Act, such submitted returns should be mandatorily recorded under such registers as prescribed under the Act.

Section 17 of the Act makes provisions for levy of fees of Custodian at the rate of two per centum of all transaction amounts and property valuations as the case may be. Section 18 of the Act empowers Central Government as to divesting of enemy property which was vested in him under this Act and returning thereof to the owner thereof. Section 19 makes protective provisions as to actions taken in good faith or intended to be taken under the provisions of this Act by Central Government, Custodian or Inspector of Enemy property, as such no suit or prosecution could be initiated against such authorities. Further Section 20 of the Act makes provisions as to penalty in default or in contravening provisions of the Act. This provision provides for both imprisonment and fine imposition as penal sanctions for defaults. And further provision describes Offences by Companies.

Effect of other laws inconsistent with the Act is given under Section 22 of the Act, where other laws for the time being in force should have no effect. The most important power of Central Government as to the making of Rules is given under Section 23 of the Act where Central Government can make Rules on certain given aspects for widening the scope and carrying on purposes of this Act.

However, in the year 1977 the Act named ‘The Enemy Property (Amendment) Act, 1977 was enacted to amend ‘The Enemy Property Act, 1968 which came into force on 27th September, 1977. The Amending Act amended the Principal Act mostly where there is the word ‘Defence of India Rules, 1962’ is the word ‘Defence of India Rules, 1971 is inserted.

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by Faim Khalilkhan Pathan