How we made the Out of Court Settlement.
Recently, Humans of Pakistan have shared our story once again. Also, UN has shared it as part of a sixteen day session of sharing strong women’s stories. This has brought it all back, once more. What we went through was so horrific that I wish it doesn’t ever happen to anyone else. That is why I shared my story with HOP. Many of you must be wondering how we are now. My parents moved in with us the next year. We all are fine with Allah’s grace.
Here is the epilogue to that story.
First of all, thank you – each one of you – who prayed and supported us for our well-being, and those who shared their stories with us. Special thanks to Humans of Pakistan for sharing our story with their readers, so others could also gain hope from it. Yes, it is vital for us to believe in ourselves first. Know that the power of our intentions and the blessings from God are enough.
To take the story forward; We are definitely on a stronger plain now. This happened due to the Out of Court Settlement that took place between my daughters and my settlement with my in-laws. Let me tell you about the Out of Court Settlement which finally took place, in April, 2016, through efforts of intermediaries like Shahbaz Khan my cousin, and my uncle Riaz Khan Gheba. (Earlier, my uncle Brig Altaf and Col. Mumtaz had also tried.)
We had been going to Family courts for over four and half years, without any results. There was one case from my side, and four from them on us. By Allah’s grace, I won one of the cases, which they had put up against us. (So there is a fragile amount of justice here too.) The rest of cases were still pending. So, I suppose there is a 20 % chance of justice if you are very lucky. On every case and every pretext the lawyers took more money. (Getting work done for Rs.2000 which I found out could be done for Rs.200 just outside his door…. is one tiny example!) The three lawyers I had -including a woman – did their best to take maximum amount, and wouldn’t let me even ask them ‘what is going on?’ if I did, hell would break loose. The rudeness, disregard and insults, including hanging up of phone, all was done.
One fine day, I faced the fact, that our ‘legal system’ and our lawyers are not much different from each other. It is all a farce, to keep their money coming in. Nothing is done. The longer a case takes the more money they get, so they are in no hurry to ‘finish’ it. My father-in-law Malik Taj Muhammad Khan (Alig.) was a prominent lawyer of this region in his lifetime. He had once mentioned how low the standard of practice of law had become during the late Eighties. I now realize, how much lower it is today.
My case was clean and clear; Through an angel in disguise, I had come upon the proofs of the lands in our names. Still, there was no help. However, it put me in a very strong position. But still everything was taking so long.
I met Sufi sahib at the Dawn office, he mentioned one case in his family to me, which went on for twenty-seven years … when most of the contestants had died. That too only came to an end through Out of Court Settlement, not through the courts. I heard that one, but continued my fight in the courts. Hoping that things had improved with time. They hadn’t.
I had the support of many:
- My friend Fairy and other important personalities in my life, told me not to give in. My religious scholar friend said, ‘If you give them this land which belongs to you, you will be making them and their coming generations the inhabitants of hell forever.’
- My cook Abdul Rahim was very hopeful that now the government is making things computerized and one day justice will reign supreme. I just had to hold on.
The reality check:
The problem was that till the cases were solved we weren’t getting anywhere either. We too were in a deadlock. It was I and my daughters who had to go to courts every time, we had to waste days on end, going back and forth, every few weeks or days. Timings changing on the eleventh hour, only to be told during the session that the date is shifted to another one! (it’s a bad joke, I tell you.)
There had to be a facing of hard core facts. There is no justice here. Justice delayed is truly justice denied. We were denied justice. But I had to try it out and give it my best shot, before I faced this more horrific reality.
There were a few cases which I knew about in foreign countries too. One in USA where an American friend of mine divorced her second husband, and he ran away with her money to Alaska, and the US law couldn’t help her. In another case in UK, the property and business of my friend and her husband was taken away after his death due to mortgages etc. So, it isn’t just here, that these horror stories take place.
My suggestion is:
- The legal system needs a desperate shift. The important thing is that if a person puts a claim on anyone else’s land then his own property should also go into a deadlock situation. Here, it is not like that. The aggrieved person is the one who is put through even more torture. While the aggressor is given all the privileges and can carry on his life as usual. Why? In the case of an accident, the complainant and the person against whom the complaint is made, both their cars are put in the car pound while the case is on. That is how it should be for lands too. – Especially when it is against a widow.
- You’ve got to put all the facts on the table. Have a meeting with yourself. Face your own limitations and realize this is not a perfect world, nor will ever be. So, do what is best for you in the present situation. Also, study parallel cases. Make your own deductions, and do what you can, with the help of whoever will help you.
- Just make sure in the process, no one is hurt. No unjust act takes place because of you. I know, lawyers, teach you all sorts of illegal things you can ‘get away with.’ Don’t go for those, nor let them misrepresent you.
How my mind changed:
One day, a very special person, whom I hold in great regard, made a remark which woke me up. ‘Shireen, tumhara baap bhi tumari zameenein tum ko dila nahi sakta, aur un ka baap bhi wo zameenein un to dila nahi sakta, tumhari ijazat kay baghair.’ (Shireen, even your own father cannot get you these lands into your hands. Their own father also, cannot get your lands on their names, without your consent.’) It was a deadlock. Also, I suddenly realized, supposing I do get those agricultural lands, even then, all of their lands are bordering our lands. So, for everything even while selling or while managing them, I’d have to meet them and find solutions along with them.
So, I decided there and then. If they aren’t bothered, why should I? They know these facts. Their own father (God bless his soul) had placed those lands in our names. So, if they wanted them, let them have it. This would be no different for the many agricultural lands in our ‘Land of the Pure’. Hence the landlords know no peace, as they are in possession of lands belonging to their sisters, mothers, daughters and sisters-in-laws. They are all ready for hell anyway. If they say, women cannot manage lands, it is untrue. I personally know several women who have successfully managed lands in the regions of Punjab.
Though my father-in-law had left us in strong position. I realized these lands on our names are of no use to me, if they aren’t in my hands. I had big plans for them. (- Of making schools in the village in the name of my father-in-law.) But that wasn’t to be.
How the Out of Court Settlement actually happened:
My uncle Riaz Khan Gheba had come to Pakistan from Baltimore, USA, on a visit. He was already keen to settle this issue. I’ll give him the credit for having convinced them to come round to it. He was only helping them in getting what they wanted. Of course they would. This was their wish. They wanted all the agricultural lands, as well as all that my husband and I had made ourselves during our lives. But finally, they also faced, that I wouldn’t let them get away with our own property. They too faced the reality that wouldn’t be possible now. (Thanks to our determination.) So, they were happy getting our inherited lands and property. In Islam a share is given to siblings, so they can take care of the brother’s family for life. They also took our share in the inherited property. In the Holy Quran, it is clearly written how the persons who takes a widow or orphan’s property are filling their bellies with fire in the afterlife. They have done exactly that. In the garb or ‘their share’ they have taken six times more. They didn’t do a single moment’s caring of the bereaved family.
Here again an ijtehad is needed. A person must prove by his behavior and on ground, that he is taking care of the family before he is given a share, or before he can lay any claim to it.
Islamic law is only of use in totality. Not in bits and pieces. Also, hundred percent of a woman’s earnings are her own in Islam. But there is no ground reality of it. By the way, how come it is 1/8th property for a wife, whether she is one day’s wife, or forty five years? All the same? Islamic Shariya law is ‘the right way’. Is this the right way, it is being interpreted? When a wife dies, husband gets half her property, for all the responsibilities he is taking with it. What about a woman and her responsibilities, which no one else is sharing? When no man is fulfilling his responsibilities, then the females need to get their complete share. As well as their own earnings.
Whatever the interpretation, I had to make the best of the situation, as it is now.
So, a compromise was made by myself and my girls. As a sideline, they verbally offered to give me their mother’s property in my anscestral villages as a compensation. (Which was less than a quarter of the property that I’d given them. Now, I’m convinced I should take it, as something is better than nothing. But they haven’t done it in writing so far.
The Out of Court Settlement had some loopholes which I realized ….
So, what I’m trying to say is that when you prepare an Out of Court Settlement, it should have the following:
- It is made with name of judge and court in which it will be placed.
- All the persons will have to be there to sign in front of the lawyers and judges.
- One mediator from both sides is needed to carry on the process to the final end.
- Each and every clause and property or bank issue and its name has to be written with great detail. Otherwise, it won’t be honored by the institution concerned.
- Once it is completed and signed, it has to be fully registered, and then original copies of these are needed by both parties to claim to the properties agreed upon. I would advise you to get some extra ones made too.
This is how finally, an agreement was reached.
The Third Alternative.
This in my case, was the Out of Court Settlement – the third option.
You have to word it properly and with clean heart.
No matter what happens in our lives, we have to maintain our sanity. The cost of any amount is nothing compared to peace of mind and heart. Stay blessed my dear Reader, remember you are the most important person in your own life. You have to take care of yourself at all costs. Smile, and keep your faith intact at all times. 🙂