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Prince profits as enemy property Act put on hold.

THEY were eager to seize the properties of the erstwhile king of Mahmudabad, Mohammad Amir Mohammad Khan.

Armed with a July 2 central government ordinance, the district administrations of Sitapur and Lucknow went about confiscating the ' enemy properties'. In Sitapur, work had already begun to convert three bungalows of the former king into the official residence of the district magistrate, superintendent of police and chief medical officer.

In Lucknow, Lakhimpur Kheri and Barabanki, the local administrations had started the process to take possession of over 100 buildings and 367 hectares of land belonging to Mohammad Amir.

But in their haste they forgot an important aspect of the Constitution which says that an ordinance can run its course beyond the mandatory six- week period only if it's tabled in Parliament.

But with the Centre deciding not to table the Enemy Property ( Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2010 in Lok Sabha for the moment following opposition from Muslim leaders, authorities in UP have been forced to eat crow.

Mohammad Amir's troubles started in the late 1960s. His father, the former king of Mahmudabad, Amir Ahmad Khan, had left for Pakistan in 1957. But his wife Begum Kaneez Abdi and son remained in India.

But their pleas of being Indian citizens went unheard when their assets were seized under the Enemy Property Act, 1968, since the owner had become a Pakistani citizen.

After repeated requests, the ministry of commerce decided to return 25 per cent of his father's properties to him in 1981.

Not happy with the decision, Mohammad Amir challenged it and in 2005 the Supreme Court declared him the sole heir and ordered the government to hand him the entire property, which according to an estimate, is currently worth ` 5,000 crore.

But the July 2 ordinance once again put Amir in limbo before the Centre decided to put the legislation on hold.

For this, he must thank the group of Muslim leaders who took up the matter with the Prime Minister on Thursday.

The home ministry had moved the Enemy Property ( Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2010, in Parliament on Monday and it was to be taken up on Thursday.

Had the bill gone through, it would have prevented family members of those who had migrated to Pakistan during Partition Partition from staking claim to the assets of their forefathers seized as ' enemy property'. Unhappy with the development, the Muslim leaders approached PM Manmohan Singh.

Sources said Singh consulted finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, home minister P. Chidambaram and parliamentary affairs minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, before deciding to keep the proposed legislation in abeyance.

Minister of state for tourism Sultan Ahmed, who was among those who met the PM, said, " The proposed law is detrimental to the interests of Muslims." The move is going to benefit thousands of those whose forefathers had moved to Pakistan during Partition. It would have also meant a number of legal battles that the government would have found itself over property disputes.

( With Mail Today inputs)

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Aug 7, 2010
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