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Husband Has No Right Over Wife’s Property Sans Consent, Rules SC

The Supreme Court has ruled a husband without her permission to have no “right” over the property of his wife.

“The fundamental rights in the Constitution include the ‘right to acquire, hold and dispose of property’ and ‘no person shall be compulsorily deprived of his property save in accordance with law’ these provisions do not distinguish between men and women.

Therefore, unless a married woman elects to gift, sell or otherwise dispose of her property neither her husband nor any male relative has any right over it,” states a judgment authored by Justice Qazi Faez Isa on a petition of a mother-in-law whose husband guaranteed their daughter-in-law one kanal land with a fully constructed house in dowry.

The court noted that to restore the privileges and status of women in Islam a number of laws were enacted, including the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939. “The importance of a Muslim married woman’s right to property can be gauged from the fact that, if her husband, ‘disposes of her property or prevents her from exercising her legal rights over it’, she could obtain dissolution of her marriage because it constituted ‘cruelty’.”

The bridal gifts given at the time of marriage are also the wife’s property; these can be added to but not subtracted by the husband. It is also recommended that husbands make wills to provide for their wives,” read the judgment, referring to the property rights of married women in Islam.

The court also notes that a chasm existed between a woman’s position in Islam to that which prevailed till a century ago in Europe and America where upon marriage a wife stood deprived of her property, which became that of her husband to do with it as he pleased.

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