Enforcement of property rights act, significant step towards empowering women

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STAFF REPORTER
ISLAMABAD Spokesperson of Ministry of Law and Justice has said, Empowering a woman is a major step towards enlightenment of a society. It is a known fact that financial independence is a key to empowerment. Islam ensured a woman’s right to property 1400 years ago. Under Article 23 of the Constitution of Pakistan, it is citizens’ right to acquire, hold and dispose of property in any part of Pakistan. Since it applies to all the citizens, there is no differentiation of a man and woman. Despite the fact our religion and constitution guarantees a woman’s right to property/inheritance, we see a number of women being deprived of this fundamental right either because they are not strong enough or because they are unaware of their rights in the matter. Prime Minister Imran Khan, from the very onset of taking over the reins of the Government, was of the view that women should be empowered by giving them what belongs to them. He emphasized the need to ensure the uprooting the un-Islamic practices and customs that deprive women of their legal right to have property. The Government and the Ministry of Law and Justice reached an important milestone on February 14, 2020, when Enforcement of Women’s Property Rights Bill (now an Act), 2020 received Senate’s nod. The Act empowers the Ombudsman to take appropriate action to address the issue of a woman’s inheritance. Now any woman, who is deprived of ownership or possession of her property by any means, can file a complaint to the Ombudsman, if no proceedings in a court of law are pending regarding that property. In case the woman deprived of her property is unable to do so, any person or an NGO may initiate action on her behalf. The Ombudsman, after preliminary assessment will direct the matter to concerned Deputy Commissioner. The Deputy Commissioner will conduct an inquiry and submit a report to the Ombudsman within 15 days following which; the Ombudsman may call for further record or submission of objections by the complainant and her adversaries. The Ombudsman will pass the orders, preferably within 60 days of receipt of the complaint. Role of the Ombudsman will not end after passing the orders but the Act empowers it to ensure implementation of the orders by directing the police and district administration officials to restore possession and title of the property to the complainant. No court or authority can question the validity of action taken, or grant a stay or interim order after orders by Ombudsman have been passed.

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