قبضہ مافیا کے خلاف پاکستانی قوانین
Land grabbing is not a new phenomenon in Pakistan, it is an age-old breach of ethics. In Pakistan, “Qabza Mafia” is a term used for an individual or a group of individuals who grab the property of the rightful owners through illegal means.
Because of this recurring issue in real estate, most people are afraid to invest in housing schemes and hesitate to buy properties.
Its legal definition as per the Eradication of Qabza Group (Activities) Act, 1993 is:
“Qabza Group” means a person or group of persons committing an act of illegal possession of or illegal dispossession from the property. This can be done employing fraud, intimidation, duress, assault or in any manner otherwise than in due course of law.
In Pakistan, land rights are not practised thoroughly, leaving room for vulnerability in ownership of properties, and forced transfers. The legal owners often lose their lands because of the well-planned schemes of Qabza Mafias.
Most of the time, the illegal land grabbing practice involves faking the property documents for selling and renting properties.
These forged documents do not transfer ownership to buyers, thus leaving them in a crisis.
Forging property ownership and documents don’t mix up overnight, rather it is a long process. That’s because some people go to any length to ensure this illegal process meets completion.
The process goes like this: forging the revenue record; faking property ownership documents; and then filing the lawsuit that will put the property in dispute for years.
Some land grabbers are more brazen, they occupy the property by force.
However, it’s not only these notorious Qabza Mafias. Some people unrelated to Qabza Groups take advantage of this system, to dispossess the legal property owners.
In the past years, some laws have been ensured on behalf of the government to limit the growing practice of the Qabza Mafia.
These land grabbing laws in Pakistan have played a prominent role in seizing this growing malpractice. Let’s take a closer look at some of the laws and how they affect real estate land grabbing malpractice.
During the year 2021, the government of Punjab decided to initiate a campaign against the Qabza Mafia. Its purpose was to retrieve the illegally occupied land.
To initiate the process, they set up a call by the name Anti Land Mafia cell gave out this complaint number “1242”. Since then they have received a surprising number of complaints. As per reports, the total number of plots recovered since then can be added up to value up to billions of rupees.
Coming to the part where we often learn about the demolition orders of the buildings on TV and social media. These actions are also a result of land grabbing and illegal housing.
Even though it faces so much criticism, legally, it proves as the right decision. According to the Recovery of Possession Ordinance, 1965 the federal government has the power to recover the land and buildings of the federal government, occupied by the unofficial owners.
Moreover, the ordinance enables the government to demolish the buildings, and to even use force if necessary. However, it is necessary to give the opposing party the right to hearing and notice before action is taken.
The Government of Punjab also has a similar ordinance, Punjab Government Lands and Buildings (Recovery of Possession) Ordinance, 1966.
Until 2005 people that were dispossessed of their property illegally, used to take the matter to the civil courts to file lawsuits.
Based previously on the hierarchical system of the court, these cases generally used to take a long time to get the victims their rightful property back.
Due to this reason, the Illegal Dispossession Act 2005 was enacted to provide individuals with a more effective and fast method of property retrieving without having to go through protracted civil court hearings.
According to section 3 of this Act any individual that illegally dispossesses, grabs, or occupies someone’s property will be punished for 10 years in jail, aside from being fined.
The 2005 Act has been subjected to multiple discussions and criticism. Because of this, the supreme court of Pakistan took strong steps to introduce legislation against the Qabza Mafias in addition to the 2005 Act.
In 2016, the Supreme Court of Pakistan declared that in any case of land grabbing, the decisions will be based on the complaint solely. It is important on part of the complainant to bring evidence that they were wronged.
Such laws make it crucial for people to acknowledge that verifying land ownership in Pakistan is important. Besides, in case there is a problem of legal ownership afterwards, there can be an issue.
“In any proceedings initiated under the Illegal Dispossession Act, 2005, the deciding issues would be: whether the offence against a lawful owner or occupier, as described in the complaint, has indeed taken place and whether it is the accused who has committed it without any lawful authority.”
This clarifies that the previous record of the accused person will be irrelevant to finalise the judgement of the case. Previously it used to be an obligation to prove that the accused was a part of the Qabza Mafia.
In that case, it was quite a task to prove wrongful acts, and most of these people involved third parties as witnesses when transferring property names in Pakistan.
That being the reason, it made a long and impossible case to actually prove to the court that forgery had taken place.
This new amendment has made it easier for people to retrieve their properties from illegal possessions.
The current government of Imran Khan has taken some further steps to curb the issue. They have offered a way for Pakistanis to actually notify about their complaints against land grabbing via the Pakistan Citizen Portal Complaint section.
If someone is trying to dispossess you of your own legal land in Pakistan you can instantly complain to the citizen portal.
The portal will send notification alerts to the concerned authorities if someone tries to grab the state’s land. The Pakistani government has provided us with effective laws to curb this issue of land grabbing.
Currently, the land grabbing issue is still at large. But with these laws by the government, we can hope for a future free of Qabza Mafia in Real Estate.