From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Enemy Property, Butler Palace
Mains level : Not Much
- Lucknow’s iconic Butler Palace, an Enemy Property on the banks of the Gomti River, is set to undergo a remarkable transformation after decades of abandonment and obscurity.
About Butler Palace
- Official Residence: Butler Palace was originally commissioned in 1915 as the official residence of the Avadh Commissioner, Harcourt Butler.
- Ownership by the Raja: It later came under the ownership of the rajas of Mahmudabad, a family with roots tracing back to the 13th century and a history of allegiance to the Mughals.
- Partition and Dispute: After India’s partition, Raja Mohammed Amir Ahmad Khan migrated to Pakistan, while his son, Mohammad Amir Mohammad Khan, stayed in India. Legal disputes over properties, including Butler Palace, ensued.
Genesis of Enemy Property
- Post-War Migration: The origins of enemy property can be traced back to the aftermath of the India-Pakistan wars in 1965 and 1971, which led to the migration of people from India to Pakistan.
- Defence of India Rules: Framed under The Defence of India Act, 1962, these rules empowered the Indian government to assume control of properties and companies owned by individuals opting for Pakistani nationality.
- Custodian of Enemy Property: The central government vested these “enemy properties” in the Custodian of Enemy Property for India (CEPI).
- Similar Instances: A parallel situation emerged concerning property left behind by individuals who relocated to China after the 1962 Sino-Indian war.
- Tashkent Declaration: A pivotal development occurred with the Tashkent Declaration in 1966, where India and Pakistan agreed to discuss the return of properties and assets seized by either side during the conflicts.
- Pakistan’s Disposition: Notably, the Government of Pakistan disposed of all such properties within its territory in 1971.
Legal Framework for Handling Enemy Property
- Enemy Property Act, 1968: Enacted in 1968, this legislation established the continuous vesting of enemy property in the Custodian of Enemy Property for India (CEPI) under the Home Ministry.
- Scope of Properties: The CEPI, acting on behalf of the central government, oversees a range of enemy properties spread across multiple states. This includes both immovable and movable assets, such as shares and gold.
- Amendment in 2017: Parliament passed The Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2016, which introduced amendments to The Enemy Property Act, 1968, and The Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971.
Scale and Geographic Distribution
- Vast Inventory: India currently hosts a significant inventory of 12,611 enemy properties, collectively estimated to be worth over ₹1 lakh crore.
- Revenue Generation: The government has generated revenue exceeding ₹3,400 crore by disposing of enemy properties, predominantly involving movable assets like shares and gold.
- Immovable Properties: Interestingly, no immovable enemy properties have been sold to date.
- Origin Breakdown: Out of the 12,611 properties under CEPI’s purview, 12,485 were associated with Pakistani nationals, while 126 were linked to Chinese citizens.
- Regional Distribution: Uttar Pradesh leads with the highest number of enemy properties (6,255), followed by states like West Bengal, Delhi, Goa, Maharashtra, and others. Notably, several states across India have a share of enemy properties, underscoring the broad geographical scope.