ISLAMABAD    -  The Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice has recently rejected a Constitutional amendment to declare the right of women in inheritance as a fundamental right but the legal minds have opined in its favour by terming it as “necessary and Islamic.”

Talking to The Nation here on Saturday, the legal experts said that it was a good opportunity to help the women in getting justice and moving forward towards establishing a civilized society because most of them could not afford the judicial expenditures and do not have access to litigation.

Commenting on the rejection of the bill, Munir Ahmed Kakar member Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) said that it should not have happened because our religion Islam permits it. “Our religion also includes the right of women in inheritance in the basic rights and therefore, this rejection of the bill by the Senate body as ultra vire of Islamic principles,” maintained Kakar.

He further said that in this regard, the Balochistan High Court (BHC) has also given its judgment and asked for the legislation on this issue. He continued that every state across the world is taking steps from better to the best and “We are still reluctant to take any good step which helps in establishing civilized society.”

The member PBC said that women litigants faced delays of years in civil courts and it was very difficult for them to get justice. He said that Pakistan’s 50 per cent population is comprised of women and the country could not make progress without giving them equal rights. Former secretary Islamabad High Court Bar Association (IHCBA) Waqas Malik Advocate said that it was a good opportunity to ensure women’ right in inheritance. He stated that it was necessary to help the women to get speedy justice because for the most of women, it was not possible to afford the judicial expenditures and to have access to litigation while getting their right of inheritance.

He added that such legislation would help the women a lot in getting justice in the matters related to the inheritance.  Another member of PBC Haroon-ur-Rashid Advocate that right of inheritance is an established law and the committee should have accepted the bill because it would help the women in getting their right of inheritance conveniently without waiting for the years.

Rashid further said that there are also judgments of the apex court in this connection and this kind of legislation would have settled such issues once for all and would help the women in reducing their difficulties in getting their right of inheritance.

A senior lawyer Tariq Asad Advocate said that right of inheritance is absolute and an established law according to the principles of Islam but it is being treated as a routine case.

Therefore, he was of the view that it did not need any further legislation and only a high court or Supreme Court can give direction to the judges of trial courts to announce these matters within three months. 

He added that the real issue in Pakistan is in the implementation of laws.

In this matter, Senator Saadia Abbasi had introduced “Constitutional Amendment Bill, 2021 (Insertion of Article 24A)” having purpose to acknowledge, declare, and assert the right of women in inheritance as a fundamental right in consonance with the principles of Islam. However, the Senate body chaired by Senator Syed Ali Zafar rejected the same by terming it constitutionally difficult, and recommended for improving existing laws to make sure that women are not denied inheritance.

Senator Saadia Abbasi said that Islam has prescribed well-defined shares for the male and female descendants of a deceased person.

The Holy Quran clearly states: “Men shall have a share in what parents and kinsfolk leave behind, and women shall have a share in what parents and kinsfolk leave behind.” Islamic law (Shariah) entities women to inherit immovable and movable property, yet the practice has been to deny women their share in inheritance, particularly, in the matter of landed estates where their entire claim is often denied and male heirs tend to enjoy the right of receiving almost all the assets of the deceased.

She said that it is an undeniable reality, and unjustified practice that it has become a norm that women either do not receive legal inheritance, or are obliged to surrender their legal rights.

Saadia Abbasi further said that the purpose of this amendment is to acknowledge, declare, and assert the right of women in inheritance as a fundamental right in consonance with principles of Islam and Article 23, and Article 24 of Constitution of Pakistan.

She maintained that if the said amendment is approved it would enable women to directly approach the Supreme Court of Pakistan on matters related to inheritance. Senator Azam Khan Swati was of the view that relevant laws already exist and there is no need to list the matter of inheritance as fundamental right.

Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, while supporting the bill said that this “Amendment reinforces State’s commitment towards protecting women’s right to inheritance”. Chairman Committee Syed Ali Zafar commented that the said amendment is “constitutionally difficult”.

Senator Farooq H Naek also opposed the said amendment and said that related laws already exist and we need to work towards better implementation of existing laws. The committee rejected the bill with a majority vote after due deliberations.