Land Tenancy and Inheritance Rights


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green plants during golden hour

In Civil Revision No. 68828 of 2023, the Lahore High Court addressed a dispute over land tenancy and inheritance rights involving Ashiq Ali and others (petitioners) versus Ghulam Ali (deceased) through his legal heirs (respondents). The petitioners challenged the judgment and decree of the appellate court, which had dismissed their suit for declaration with a permanent injunction regarding the ownership of agricultural land.

Key Areas:

Case Background: The petitioners, who are real brothers, claimed joint tenancy rights to 98 kanals and 8 marlas of land in Okara. Their father, a tenant of the land since 1956-57, passed away, after which the brothers continued to cultivate the land jointly. However, one brother, Ghulam Ali, allegedly secured proprietary rights to the land through fraudulent means, excluding the other brothers.

Legal Arguments and Evidence: The petitioners argued that the land was jointly cultivated by all brothers and that the proprietary rights were obtained through deception by Ghulam Ali with the connivance of revenue officials. Ghulam Ali, in defense, asserted that he had been the sole tenant of the land during crucial harvest periods (Kharif 1971 and Rabi 1971-72) and had lawfully obtained the proprietary rights through the proper legal process.

Judicial Findings: The court examined the relevant legal framework, including the Land Reforms Regulation, 1972 (MLR 115 of 1972) and the Punjab Land Reforms Rules, 1972. According to these regulations, land was to be granted to tenants who were in cultivating possession during specified harvests. The court found that the petitioners failed to provide evidence that they were recorded as joint tenants during the crucial periods. The evidence showed that Ghulam Ali was the recorded tenant, and the petitioners were noted as tenants at will under Ghulam Ali, not under the original landowner, Anjuman Ahmadia Ishaat Islam.

Caselaw References: The court referred to several legal precedents to support its decision including Bhai Azizur Rehman vs. Messrs Ghafur Textile Mills Ltd. (1987 CLC 577), Mian Khalid Siraj vs. Khalid Siraj Industries (1997 CLC 1220), and Shaukat Ali vs. Amin Fabrics Ltd. (2008 CLD 837).

Court’s Decision: The court concluded that the petitioners did not prove their claim to joint tenancy and that the proprietary rights were lawfully granted to Ghulam Ali. The civil revision was dismissed, upholding the appellate court's judgment.

Conclusion: The judgment emphasizes the importance of proper documentation and adherence to legal procedures in land tenancy disputes. It highlights the need for credible evidence to support claims of joint tenancy and inheritance rights.

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