Government approves mechanism for sale of enemy shares worth Rs 3,000 crore

New Delhi: On Thursday, the government approved a mechanism for sale of enemy shares which at the current price is estimated at around Rs 3,000 crore.

This move by the government comes as it is casting around for funds to support welfare programs in the final months before the election in the summer of 2019. It is also struggling to meet its target of raising a record Rs 1 trillion ($14.25 billion) from the sale of state assets in the current fiscal year ending in March 2019.

Enemy property

According to Enemy Property Act, 1968, “Enemy property” refers to any property belonging to, held or managed on behalf of an enemy, an enemy subject or an enemy firm. A recent amendment to the 49-year-old Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Act ensures the heirs of those who migrated to Pakistan and China during Partition and afterwards will have no claim over the properties left behind in India.

The decision, taken by the Union Cabinet, will lead to monetisation of movable enemy property lying dormant for decades and the proceeds will be used for development and social welfare programmes, an official statement said.

Sales and proceeds

“Sale proceeds are to be deposited as disinvestment proceeds in the government account maintained by the Ministry of Finance,” said the official statement, adding the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management has been authorised to sell the shares.

The government said the proceeds from the sale of stocks held under enemy assets would be treated as part of the divestment proceeds.

A total number of 6,50,75,877 shares in 996 companies of 20,323 shareholders are under the custody of Custodian of Enemy Property of India (CEPI).

Total shares, known as “enemy shares numbering 6,50,75,877 worth Rs 3,000 crore, are lying unutilised because enemy property act includes movable and immovable property, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said after the Cabinet meeting.

Of these companies, 588 are functional/ active companies, 139 of these are listed with remaining being unlisted.

“The process for selling these shares is to be approved by the alternative mechanism under the chairmanship of the finance minister and comprising minister of road transport and highways and Home Minister,” it said.

The mechanism will be supported by a high-level committee of officers co-chaired by the secretary in the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management, Home Affairs secretary (with representatives from DEA, DLA, Corporate Affairs and CEPI) that would give its recommendations with regard to quantum, price/price-band, principles/ mechanisms for sale of shares.

“In principle approval has been accorded for sale of enemy shares under the Custody of Ministry of Home Affairs/CEPI,” it added.

It said before initiation of sale of any enemy shares, the CEPI would certify that the sale of the shares is not in contravention of any judgment, decree or order of any court, tribunal or other authority or any law for the time being in force and can be disposed off by the government.

(With inputs from Agencies)