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January 23, 2021

Bar association asks governor to return bill on certificates for inheritance to PA

Karachi

January 23, 2021

The Sindh High Court Bar Association (SHCBA) on Friday raised several constitutional and legal objections to the Sindh Letter of Administration and Succession Certificates Bill 2021 recently passed by the Sindh Assembly to shift the award of succession certificate process from courts to national database registration authority.

The bar association requested the Sindh governor to return the bill to the provincial assembly for reconsideration to rectify its constitutional and legal defects. Sending a letter to Sindh Governor Imran Ismail over the Sindh Letter of Administration and Succession Certificates Bill 2021, SHCBA President Salahuddin Ahmed and Secretary Omer Soomro said the bill had three major problems which must be addressed before it could be brought into force.

They said the bar associations were very aware of the difficulties and delays faced by the legal heirs in obtaining succession letters/certificates under the present system and they fully supported reforming the system to make the process faster and easier for the legal heirs of the deceased.

They, however, stated that the Sindh government had not consulted the bar council and lawyers’ associations, which have day-to-day experience of practical working of the present succession system, to discuss the proposed reforms before the bill was passed by the assembly. They maintained that had such consultation been done, the defects in the bill could have been avoided.

The SHCBA president and secretary were of the view that the proposed bill had exceeded the legislative jurisdiction of the Sindh Assembly and there were certain procedural lacunae in the bill, which, unless removed, would increase the difficulties of the legal heirs, rather than decreasing them.

They said that the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) was a federal authority and in order to entrust Nadra with the function envisaged in the present bill, a prior consent of the federal government as per the Article 147 of the constitution was required but there was nothing to indicate that such a consent had been obtained.

The bar leaders pointed out that the present bill did not draw clear distinction with regard to the decline of cases of factual controversies among the legal heirs and the bill must clarify that all controversies arising in the succession matter, whether factual or legal, must immediately be declined and referred to appropriate court.

Regarding barring ordinary courts from entertaining such cases until the decline by Nadra, they said that no impediment or barrier on the right of a party to approach the court could be imposed nor could such right be made dependent on Nadra’s order.

They said the Section 6 of the bill with regard to the exemption of legal heirs from appearing before an authority to give no objection to grant a certificate to authorise a person must be rectified and all the legal heirs must appear in person and given the NOC for granting the certificate to authorise a person.

They also questioned the time frame for filing of appeal against the award of certificate and said that there was no other law that contemplated a remedy against Nadra’s decision whether by filing an appeal or an application.