Law in Service of Illegal Ousting of the Largest Religious Minority in Bangladesh

In: Asia-Pacific Journal on Human Rights and the Law

The exodus of the largest religious minority, the Hindus, from Bangladesh into neighbouring India over seven decades since the 1950s is owed, in no small part, to the enactment of the former Enemy Property Act and the subsequent Vested Properties Act. The article explores the trajectory of these Acts from examining the political and legal context of its origin, to tracing the various changes made in them through subsequent legislation and executive orders perpetuating an illegality, until the eventual passing of the return of vested property acts. A review of key cases on the issue of vested property acts shows the vacillating role of the judiciary in response to the use of legal tools of legislation and executive orders to oust Hindus from their lands and properties. The article assesses the potential for success of the project of returning vested properties given the realities of the state of the properties and procedural challenges.