The legal rights of women on bridal gifts, dowery and inherited property have always been at the centre of controversy. If a woman receives any movable and immovable assets, such as gold or jewellery, a vehicle, and real estate as gifts or dowry at her wedding, it is generally assumed her husband also has a fair share in all of the items.
Owing to a general lack of awareness as well as certain regressive cultural practices, most women are completely unaware of their rights when it comes to matters such as real estate ownership, the right to bridal gifts, and the division of inherited property. Since they don’t know their fundamental rights as given to them by Islam and protected by the Constitution of Pakistan, they also have no idea how they can legally exercise them. This is perhaps the main reason why a significant percentage of women across the country end up disowning their share in inheritance and other acquired assets in the favour of their male family members.
The property rights of women in Pakistan are governed by the following laws:
- Married Women’s Property Act, 1874
- Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939
- Muslim Family Laws Ordinance, 1961
- West Pakistan Muslim Personal Law Shariat Application Act, 1962
- Prevention of Anti-Women Practices Act, 2011
Rights of Women on Bridal Gifts or Dowry
Although the Dowry and Bridal Gifts (restriction) Act 1976 has prohibited excessive expenditure on dowry, it is still a huge cultural and social issue across the country. Therefore, to shed more light on the matter, the Supreme Court of Pakistan has reiterated its stance on the rights of women on bridal gifts in a recent ruling.
As reported by a leading English newspaper, the court stated the gifts given to a woman at the time of her marriage are her property and would continue to remain hers. Also, according to the Sharia Law followed by Pakistan, these gifts can be added to but not taken away from their rightful owner, which is the wife.
“Radical awakening was brought about by the Holy Quran and hitherto before unfamiliar women’s rights were established for the first time in the [Muslim] scripture,” Justice Qazi Faez Isa said in a 12-page judgment he had authored following the hearing of a property-related matter. “[The Sharia highlights] a woman’s right to own and dispose of her property; her right to retain – both before and after her marriage – her income and property; her ability to do business without permission of her father or husband and keep and spend what she earns,” it added.
Moreover, the latest Supreme Court judgment on bridal gifts stated that both men and women shall have the benefit of what they earn respectively. It also cited Surah Al-Nisa of the Holy Quran, which ordains that a woman is entitled to inherit from her parents and husband. It was also recommended that husbands should make wills to provide for their wives, as Islam has discussed the woman’s right to enter into contracts and to witness contracts in great detail.
“A woman also does not need permission to acquire or dispose of property; what she inherits is hers and hers alone; neither her husband, father, brother or son has any entitlement to it: [The Quran says] ‘Do not eat up (consume) one another’s property,’” the verdict affirmed, noting that sometimes the injunctions of Quran are not followed properly due to the backward traditions and practices.
Rights of Women on Dower (Mehr)
In addition to dowry, women also have complete rights to dower or Mehr that a husband is bound to pay to his wife as per Islamic laws. The form and quality of Mehr, which is usually decided between the families of the bride and groom, could include money, gold, real estate or any other goods as agreed upon by both parties.
As per the law, the Mehr is also the wife’s property. If a husband gives land or house to his wife, or if she uses the money received in Mehr to buy real estate, she will be its sole owner. Moreover, the Property Transfer Act of 1882, and the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance of 1961 also ensure that once the title of ownership is transferred to the woman’s name, she can do anything with it as she pleases – including selling it without sharing the amount with her husband.
Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939, also protects the property rights of women in Pakistan in case of a divorce. However, it is important to mention that in the case of khula, where a wife demands the dissolution of marriage, she will not be able to claim her right to Mehr.
As far as the transfer of property by gift is concerned, there is no tax on gifted property in Pakistan. You can also refer to our guide on how to register a gift deed for more information.
This brings an end to our guide on the rights of women on bridal gifts as well as Mehr in Pakistan.
To learn more about the transfer of property in Pakistan, stay connected to Zameen Blog – the best real estate blog in Pakistan. You can also share your concerns and queries with us through email@example.com or get in touch by visiting our Facebook page.