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The government Wednesday approved amendments to an over 40-year-old legislation to ensure the protection of interests of those Indian Muslims who have inherited the properties of relatives who migrated to Pakistan in 1947.

The amendments to the Enemy Property Act, 1968, which got the nod by the union cabinet in a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, will have to be cleared by parliament in the upcoming winter session.

“The union cabinet today approved the proposal of the ministry of home affairs to introduce the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Second Bill, 2010, to make amendments to the Enemy Property Act, 1968,” an official statement said.

According to the amendments, the enemy property, as it is legally known, “could be divested only to the owner or his (or her) lawful heir but shall continue to vest in the custodian till it is divested by the government”.

It means that a Muslim citizen of India, who is a legal inheritor of such property, is able to retain ownership even if the deceased had gone to Pakistan after partition, but he will have to legally prove his or her inheritance.

The amendments come in the wake of a series of judgments by various courts that eroded the powers of the custodian of the enemy property.

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