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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Enemy property in India ~ who owns Jinnah House

The other day at Sriperumpudur, the birth place of Acharyar Swami Ramanujar, saw this old building which is more than 150 years old !

The petitioner in IPL spot-fixing case AdityaVerma has termed outgoing BCCI president ShashankManohar as a "power hungry backstabber", who has failed to keep his promise of cleaning up the game.A peeved Verma went to the extent of saying that atleast former president and Tamil Nadu strongman N Srinivasan was a man who would "fight manfully against his foes in an honest manner." .. .. ‘enemy’ ?

Enemy is a 2013 Canadian-Spanish psychological thriller film directed by Denis Villeneuve, loosely adapted by Javier Gullón fromJosé Saramago's 2002 novel The Double. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal as two men who are physically identical, but different in terms of personality.  Away, the legal definition of “enemy” and “enemy subject” shall include the legal heir and successor of an enemy, whether a citizen of India or a citizen of a country which is not an enemy, and also include the succeeding firm of an enemy firm in the definition of “enemy firm” irrespective of the nationality of its members or partners.

The Custodian of Enemy Property is an institution that handles property claims created by war. In wartime, civilian property may be left behind or taken by the occupying state. In ancient times, such property was considered war loot, and the legal right of the winner. In the Fourth Geneva Convention Article 147, such action is defined as war crime. 

Wazir Mansion or official Quaid-i-Azam Birthplace Museum is a former family home in the Kharadar district of Karachi, Sindh,Pakistan which is considered the birthplace of the country's founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah.The house now serves as a museum and national archive and is  a protected national monument by the Government of Pakistan.  Back home, in India, there is a building associated with Jinnah.  Jinnah House was the residence of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan; in Mumbai, was named South Court and was built in 1936 at a then exorbitant price of 200,000 rupees when Jinnah returned to Mumbai from England to take charge of the Muslim League. Now worth around $60 million the house is the subject of a dispute between India, the government of Pakistan and Jinnah's daughter Dina Jinnah. The bungalow is located in the upmarket Malabar Hill area of South Mumbai. The historic building was also the venue for the watershed talks on the Partition of India in September 1944 between Jinnah and MK Gandhi.

Jinnah was extremely attached to his house and reportedly requested to Nehru, to allot his house to any foreign consulate, preferably European, as he wished it to be given to a European family who would appreciate the architecture !As a personal favour to Jinnah, Nehru did not declare the property as Enemy Property. In 1955, in a Cabinet speech he suggested it be given to the Government of Pakistan, but could not gain the sanction of the Cabinet.  Wikipedia reports that recently Dina Jinnah has been involved in litigation regarding Jinnah House claiming that Hindu Law is applicable to Jinnah as he was a Khoja, Shia.

The Custodian of Enemy Property for India is an Indian government department that is empowered to appropriate property in India owned by Pakistani nationals. After theIndo-Pakistani War of 1965, the Enemy Property Act was promulgated in 1968. The act authorised the Central Government of India to appoint a custodian for enemy property for India and one or more deputy/assistant custodians as assistances. The Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2016 was introduced by Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Rajnath Singh, in LokSabha on March 8, 2016.  The Bill seeks to amend the Enemy Property Act, 1968 and the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971.  It will replace the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Ordinance, 2016.

Now read this report in today’s Indian Express, Chennai edition, titled ‘ Pakistanis own 'enemy property' worth Rs 1,375.22 crore in Kerala’  Pakistani nationals owning parcels of land in God’s Own Country? Sounds weird and forbidding? Yes, it is a reality but not menacing as one might think, and that’s ‘Enemy Property’ for you.

At a time when people scramble for a piece of land in the state, as many as 60 Pakistan nationals own immovable properties worth Rs 1,375.22 crore in Kerala. Though these “Enemy Property” are vested with the Custodian of Enemy Property (CEP) under the Union Home Ministry, their legal heirs are enjoying the benefits.Kerala has the fifth highest valued landholdings owned by Pakistanis in the country next only to Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, according to Ministry of Home Affairs.The State Revenue Dept records show Malappuram with the highest number of Pakistani-owned landholdings (45) followed by Kozhikode (9), Kannur (5), Palakkad (1) and Thrissur (1).

“The Pakistani citizens do not have any right over the land in the state as they belong to the Centre,” said Assistant Commissioner (Land Assignment).  The survey was conducted to identify movable and immovable assets of Pakistan and Chinese nationals.Intelligence officers said the respective district revenue offices have been directed to be alert that there were no encroachments on these land-holdings.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
11th May 2o16.


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