Property Rights for Landless Agricultural Workers and the Flexibility of Hanafi Land Law Jurisprudence: A Solution for Rural Displacement?
20 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2019
Date Written: August 1, 2019
With one stroke of a pen and a simple rule-change, landless agricultural workers on military-operated farms in Pakistan have found themselves facing eviction from lands their families have worked for generations. While exploring the dynamics of this legal change of status from share-croppers to cash renters I explore whether a rule of classical Islamic Hanafi land law that gave tillers responsibility for paying a tax to the state for lands they worked, creating a common interest between lessors and tillers, can be a legal mechanism for vesting land ownership. In the process I examine the broader dynamics of the pressures for norm change as well as evaluate the roles and capacities of classical jurists and judges in the modern era. The historical protections in the pre-classical and classical periods of Hanafi law flowed from a complex set of interconnected assumptions about the needs of different social classes and the particular need to integrate the least powerful into society by giving them a stake in its functioning and future outcomes. At a time of increasing social pressures and rising resource inequality the process is proof of the great power of the law to shape the legal, social and economic conceptualization of particular groups and to be able to change the way that particular groups are viewed in society.
Keywords: Property law; Tax law
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