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Property Law in Pakistan

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What is Property Law in Pakistan? How to acquire property and land?

Property Law in Pakistan

According to property law, the property belongs to the person who owns it. There are several properties on earth, and without defining who owned them, it will create chaos. Additionally, as time passed, people became familiar with the importance of owning property and its value. In the same way, we say that it pertains to “a set of rules that individual countries or communities recognize as governing the actions of their citizens”. The government may enforce this set of rules by imposing penalties.

What Does Land Mean?

The land is an immovable property. Furthermore, we interchangeably use the terms property and land. A Pakistani law defines rules and regulations regarding how the land can be used, and how it can be owned. In addition, a simple definition of immovable property is as follows;

Immovable property Law:

“The term ‘immovable property’ refers to land and buildings, as well as the benefits that may arise from the land and things attached to it. “It is just a broad term for everything attached to the earth.”

Moveable property Law:

The moveable property represents a different kind of property, and we also define it differently.

“All property except immovable property falls under the heading of movable property. Hence, the movable property includes standing timber, growing crops, and fruit on trees.”

Who can own land in Pakistan?

In Pakistan, land and property are provincial subjects. Likewise, each province has its own set of laws about property ownership. The law allows all citizens, including foreigners, to own property if they meet the necessary requirements. According to article 23 of the constitution,

“Every citizen shall have the right to acquire, hold, and dispose of the property in part of Pakistan.”

Furthermore, in accordance with article 172 of the constitution;

The government of a province has the right to possess any property that no owner is entitled to possess if it is located in the province. And in every other case, in the Federal Government.”

What Is a Land Record?

Land records refer to land registers. Furthermore, it discusses the Record of Rights (RoRs). Additionally, it explains the boundaries of the property’s ownership and how it appears. Also, the land record is necessary for taxation purposes and other legal issues. Using the land records, we can find out how much land each person owns in the village. 

Moreover, according to UN-Habitat;

Following the establishment of the rights of the land, a comprehensive document known as Misal-e-Haqiat is created, accompanied by the Jamabandi (done every four years) and the Mutations Register (Intaqalaat).

How Do Property Rights Get Transferred?

The 1882 Transfer of Property Act provides that:

“The sale of a property is the exchange of its own for a price or a promise of a price.”

Similarly, it is among the fundamental rights of every citizen in Pakistan to be able to acquire property. In addition, the law states,

The lawful owner of an asset has the right to sell, give, mortgage, gift, etc., his or her rights. Such rights are regarded as a part or incidence of ownership. Devolution of inheritance also results in the transfer of property rights along with sales, gifts, etc.”

In terms of transfer procedures, the following laws apply;

  1. Land Revenue Act of 1967. This act is provincial and all provinces have adopted it with some minor changes. This law is the primary one governing rights records. Also, it governs the transfer of rights through mutations;
  2. The Transfer of Property Act 1882 serves as a general law regulating and describing property transfers (sale, lease, mortgage, etc.);
  3. Detailed procedures for registering documents in accordance with the Registration Act of 1908. The law applies to the registration, including the registration of transfer deeds and sales deeds; 
  4. Local and special laws, i.e., laws adopted by private housing societies, cooperatives, and mutual societies. Cantonal boards etc.”

LEGALITIES GOVERNING TRANSFER OF PROPERTY IN PAKISTAN

The two most common cases pertaining to property transfers in Pakistan are listed below.

  1. An immovable property was given to someone as a gift
  2. Property inherited after the death

Let’s discuss these scenarios in detail.

1. An immovable property given to someone as a gift

A “gift” is an act of transferring property before the owners’ death. In the case of gifting property, the transfer of ownership occurs immediately and is completed upon receiving the “gift.” Immovable property is often offered as a gift without considering its market value and price. A Pakistani citizen of sound mind has the right to dispose of their property by gift, according to the law. Under no circumstances is it an immovable property to be gifted under undue influence, dominance, deceit, and coercion. 

Here is an overview of some of the main points about the validity of the property transfer in Pakistan as a gift.

  • The immediate divestment of the donor from ownership of a particular property
  • Donor’s declaration of the gifted property
  • Gift acceptance by the donee.
  • Possession of gifted property by the recipient is delivered by the donor

You will need the following documents to transfer your own property to your friend, acquaintance, or family member as a gift:

  • Original Allotment Letter
  • Property Tax Clearance Certificate
  • Photocopies of CNIC (attested ones)
  • Statement recorded before the concerned Deputy Director along with his official seal
  • NOC from Building Control Authority
  • Bank Draft of PKR 3000 or PKR 5000 (depending on the case)

2. Property inherited after the death

Property rights in Pakistan are automatically transferred to the legal heirs upon the death of the owner. Let’s examine some of the key highlights of Pakistan’s inheritance law that governs the phenomenon of change of ownership of properties.

Because there is no concept of a Will in the Transfer of Property Act or Islamic law, irrespective of sect, all shares are distributed to legal heirs during succession.

A devisee’s share is distributed based on their relationship with the deceased. For instance, blood relatives usually have the closest relationship with the deceased. Considering this phenomenon has many facets and angles varying from case to case, it may not be possible to summarize all possible scenarios for the distribution of shares here.

The owner of any property can donate it during their lifetime. It could be given as a gift, donated to a charity, or given as a donation to an individual, welfare trust, or humanitarian organization. Even after the death of the donor, no one is allowed to challenge the decision to donate the property.

When and how can the state acquire land?

The state of Pakistan is allowed to acquire land in any part of the country. There are, however, certain restrictions and specifications. Considering this, the constitution article 23 of 1973 is very clear to read. 

The constitution provides that all citizens have the right to acquire, hold, and dispose of property in any part of Pakistan. In addition, the law may impose reasonable restrictions that serve the public good.”

Last but not least, under article 24 of the constitution, no one other than the law can deprive the owner of his property.

Thus, we can conclude that Pakistan’s constitution gives its citizens all the right to hold property. The government is also in charge of keeping a record of property ownership. Lastly, however, the government is also entitled to acquire land when necessary as outlined in the constitution.

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