PROPERTY LAWS IN PAKISTAN

It is a famous proverb “when there is chaos all around, buy property”. Apart from this infamous dialogue from the movie, property has been the cause of fundamental disputes that develops rift within families. Property issues are one of the substantial rights that have a long history and struggle. The right to own private property was not always possible, it is also said to be one of the perks of “Capitalism”.

In 21st century, real estate property is deemed to be most profitable investment one ever does and the trend is not limited to one country or continent. The right to private property was not always possible. In slavery, the first benchmark was the slaves did not have the right to sale/ purchase private property. To own private property is one of the basic pillars of the contemporary capitalist world. Private property is different from public property as the former is the exclusive right of an individual against all others. Previously, property was a communal thing that one could use but not own against all others. 

This shift to own the title of private property owner is global. This is acknowledged in Article-17 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) as one of the basic human rights. Property disputes are common in all households, at least this can be said for Pakistan. Despite its relevance to each individual, there is much confusion on the subject. One comes across the complexity of property laws at the time of inheritance when the share of different heirs is decided. This includes the descendants (children) as well as the ascendants (parents). To satisfy all the shareholders could be a tricky job and only an expert can do the job well. 

Real estate is the fastest growing business in the world. Even during the global pandemic, real estate business kept booming. In Pakistan our state religion Islam also acknowledges the title for private property. Since the constitution of Pakistan 1973 is based on the basic principles of Islam; therefore, having private property is mentioned under the fundamental rights of the citizens in Article-23. 

Following are the relevant legislations, amongst others, which deal with property related matters:

  • Married Women’s Property Act, 1874 – In this Act, the right of private property and ownership of the title of movable or immovable property are mentioned. 
  • Transfer of Property Act, 1882- This is the main law that deals with all the property related matters i.e. sale of property, transfer of property, purchase of property, registry etc. 
  • Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939-Under this, the property rights and liabilities generated out of wedlock is mentioned. 
  • Muslim Family Laws Ordinance, 1961- This Ordinance also discusses the familial ties that can be part of the inherited property. 
  • West Pakistan Muslim Personal Law Shariat Application Act, 1962

The story does not end here. Even in the same country within the same religion, inheritance and property laws are different for various sects. In Pakistan, the main difference is observed between Sunni Law and Shia Law. There have been many instances when people change their sect only to get a bigger share of the cake (property). Also, the share of women in inheritance is also a major human rights issue in Pakistan. Despite the state legislation and religious regulations, the ratio of women getting their due share is very low. There is a general formula devised for determining the shares under the Islamic inheritance law depend on the closeness of relation to the deceased. Again, this varies based on the sect (Shia or Sunni) one belongs to:

 Individual Women Inheritance Right

  As Mother

  1/6th of X

  As wife

  • 1/8th of X if she has any children
  • 1/4th of X if she does not have any children

  As Daughter

  • ½ of brother’s share, if she has brothers
  • women having sisters
    • Sunni/Hanafi – 2/3rd of X is divided equally among themselves
    • Shia….total inheritance is equally divided among themselves
  • Women having no siblings
    • Sunni/Hanafi – 1/2 of X
    • Shia- All property (X)

At AJS & Associates, we have a panel of expert lawyers on Property Laws. We offer consultation, litigation, filing, and arbitration services to our valued clients. Having a legacy of more than three decades in the property laws it has become our benchmark. Over the years, our team has been assisting people in matters related to registry, transfer of property, sale, and purchase, deed drafting, preparation of property documents, and any other relevant field. This makes us one of the most trusted law firms in Pakistan for property laws. 

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