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ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice on Wednesday sought the ministry’s opinion on the suggestion to allow the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) to issue succession certificates.

The matter was referred by the chairman of the Senate with the idea of proposing legislation that provides for a simple mechanism, such as declaring the family tree (the Nadra-prepared Family Registration Certificate) as a succession certificate (objections, if any, can be filed in a court of law subsequently).

As it stands, citizens face myriad difficulties in obtaining succession certificates after the death of a family member.

The law requires that following the death of the head of a family or a person that owns property, family members have to obtain a court-issued succession certificate in order to inherit and/or divide the property.

The matter was referred by Senate chairman to propose legislation that provides simple mechanism

Usually, all the members of a family are called into the court and the certificate is issued after their statements are recorded.

However, the process typically takes months given procedural requirements (such as advertising for objections), the problem of postponed hearings, and the backlog that mars the performance of the district courts.

The Federal Minister for Law and Justice Farogh Naseem talked in favour of the suggestion, pointing out that people suffer because of lengthy court procedures and requirements.

“In 90pc of the cases, families don’t get involved in any dispute,” he said. “My father died three years ago but his property could not be divided as two of my sisters are in the United States, one is in the United Kingdom, my brother is in Lahore and my mother is very old. They all have to be gathered at the same time to obtain the succession certificate. The same thing happened after the death of my uncle since his children were in different countries.”

However, Senator Musadik Malik said that rather than handing the matter over to Nadra, there was need to remove hurdles [in the existing procedure].

“I fear that Nadra will [face the same problems] if the matter were handed over to it,” he observed. “The committee should ensure that people get succession certificates through a one-window court operation. And secondly, it needs to be ascertained whether Nadra’s data is credible, before the matter can be handed over to it.”

Nadra Chairman Usman Yousaf Mobin responded that the authority had no such facility [to issue succession certificates]; it does not enrol all the people [given that it works only with information volunteered], and members of a family could be missing from the authority’s records. Therefore, he said, the courts should continue to issue the certificates.

Senator Muzaffar Hussain Shah too expressed the belief that the proposal would not serve and suggested that the matter be left with the courts.

On his part, Senator Raza Rabbani said that the information with Nadra could be incorrect as a number of people don’t include in the family tree the names of children from second or third marriages. “So”, he said, “this will become a reason for litigation. Moreover, in case of the death of a person, one heir could get the succession certificate without informing the others.”

Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq suggested that arrangements should be made to issue succession certificates from one window rather than the procedure being handed over to Nadra.

However, Senator Ghous Muhammad Niazi said that as Nadra maintains a database of citizens, it can be used as supportive evidence. Above all, though, he emphasised, the process should be simplified.

The chairman of the committee, Javed Abbasi, said that it has been observed that people are directed to obtain separate succession certificates for moveable and immoveable property.

After getting the opinions of representatives of the ministries of law and interior, the committee directed the latter to look into the matter and come up with recommendations within a month.

Published in Dawn, September 6th, 2018