Hindu-Muslim Marriage, other Interreligious Marriage, and Court Marriage in Bangladesh: Overview
Being a secular country with regard to religious beliefs the marriage system in Bangladesh is far from encumbrances. When it comes from a Muslim perspective it poses different problems and misconceptions about the process as well as the existing law being not well defined people suffer from broken marriages to different lawsuits ranging from child custody to inheritance. With regard to Hindu marriage system, one thing can be said is that the system is naive since only in 2012 the Government of Bangladesh has formulated the Hindu marriage Registration Act even where the criterion for registration is kept optional. The law related to Cross religion marriages in Bangladesh are nothing but far reaching and the issues are far more complicated. Thus a simplified approach in understanding the law of Marriage in Bangladesh is attempted in this article titled “Hindu-Muslim Marriage, other Interreligious Marriage, and Court Marriage in Bangladesh: A comprehensive analysis of Law of Marriage in Bangladesh” so that any layperson can divulge what’s in it or not.
Hindu-Muslim Marriage, other Interreligious Marriage, and Court Marriage in Bangladesh: Bangladesh Scenario
Court Marriage in Bangladesh- Some clarification:
Court Marriage in Bangladesh is a well-known and accepted concept or idea that someone can be married through Judicial Court and such marriage in that court is legally valid. But an idea like Court Marriage in Bangladesh greatly accepted among lay people is incorrect. Jurisdiction of such courts or locally, in popular name, known as Court Marriage in Bangladesh is not a marriage at all, rather a declaration or permission from such judicial court. Even after acquiring such permission marriage will only be completed and legally valid when someone pays certain marriage registration fee to Kazi and fills out and sign the marriage registration form and completes the marriage registration under Muslim Marriage & Divorce Registration Act 1974 and Muslim Marriage & Divorce Registration Rules 1975.
According to Bangladeshi Civil Law, all marriages in Bangladesh entail proper Marriage Registration and later that leads to acquiring marriage certificate which is the principal document of marriage. It should be noted that the document and relevant procedures are known as “Court Marriage” is the supplementary document which has no significance without a marriage certificate.
Note: Authorization of a marriage in the name of Court Marriage in Bangladesh is not a marriage at all. Hence, the concerned parties/ couple must participate in their religion formalities and legal formalities (i.e. registration procedure) to solemnize a valid marriage. Notary public authenticated documents have little worth to prove a legal claim regarding the validity of a marriage. It basically ensures originality of a document or certifies a formal declaration.
Hindu- Muslim & other Interreligious Marriage in Bangladesh:
In Bangladesh, family laws are personal, meaning that such matters are governed by the religious laws of the individual concerned. If someone is Muslim then Muslim law will regulate his/her marriage related issues.
However, under the Special Marriage Act of 1872, mix religion/cross marriage is possible among persons professing certain specified different religions namely Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, and Jain as well as among persons declaring themselves as non-believers (atheists). There will be a different scenario if any of the parties to the marriage is a Muslim. That is, under the Muslim law, a Muslim girl cannot get married to a boy possessing any other religion. Though, a Muslim male can marry any girl, who is a follower of any Kitaab, e.g. a Christian or a Jews only. Hence, a girl cannot get married under the Special Marriage Act 1872 if she declare herself as a Muslim and the boy declares himself as a Christian.
However, the option of marriages among non – believers (atheists) under the Special Marriage Act 1872 still remains open for a Muslim girl. When a marriage is solemnized under the Special Marriage Act 1872, the bride and the bridegroom have to sign a Declaration which states as: “I do not profess the Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Parsi, Buddhist, Sikh or Jaina religion” or (as the case may be) “I profess the Hindu, or the Buddhist, or the Sikh or the Jaina religion”.
Interpreting the words of the aforesaid Declaration, it seems that a Muslim girl may either declare herself a non-believer i.e. professing none of the religions or she may declare to profess any one of the religions listed there in i.e. she professes the Hindu, or the Buddhist, or the Sikh or the Jaina religion. Marriage is only allowed between persons declaring to profess any one of the religions specifically mentioned in the second part of the Declaration.
The Problem in The Special Marriage Act of 1872:
The above scenario reveals some lacuna or problem in The Special Marriage Act of 1872.according to the analysis of the above scenario under the Act it is safe to opine that a Hindu and a Muslim – or a Buddhist and a Muslim, etc. – cannot marry under any law in Bangladesh, and hence are denied their constitutional right to equal treatment. The Special Marriage Act further contradicts Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that “[m]en and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family”.
Moreover, The Special Marriage Act of 1872 does not provide sufficient protection to those married under it. For example, the Act doesn’t contain the clear provisions on maintenance of wife and children, the legitimacy of children, custody of children, guardianship of children, and also the Act reflects certain disadvantages in the rights of inheritance.
Marriage Registration under Special Marriage Act of 1872 in Bangladesh:
If the parties of marriage are from different religion then the “Special Marriage Act-III of 1872” is applicable to them. In that case, they have to contact different marriage registrar like Kazi in Muslim Marriage. Here, Marriage Certificate is the principal document like other marriages.
Since there is no specific governmental instruction in Bangladesh regarding Hindu/Buddhist/Christian marriage registrations, the applicant should contact the City Corporation relevant department for Marriage registration, the priest who solemnized the marriage or the administration of the Church/Temple where the marriage was solemnized.
Muslim Marriage in Bangladesh:
If the parties to the marriage merely admit their consent, it doesn’t necessarily assure the validity of that marriage. It has to be completed in certain legal format. For example- marriage contract cannot be conducted in plain paper or filling up the photocopied Kabin-nama form. A marriage has to be registered. The parties to the marriage and witnesses have to properly and fully fill out the form and sign in the Marriage Registry Volume Book in front of the Kazi who is the representative of the Marriage registrar and receive a marriage registration receipt. Parties of the marriage can get Kabin-nama showing the marriage registration receipt after 1 week from the marriage. In the case of an emergency Kabin-nama can be collected within a day. The Kazi will do the religious formalities too. He will recite Surah for marriage and ask for the consent of the parties to the marriage.
Muslim Sunni Marriage Procedure in Bangladesh:
Mandatory requirements of Marriage:
1. Minimum Age of the female or bride must be 18 years. She must have to bring- National ID card or School Certificates for example-SSC/JSC/JDC certificates or n Passport or Birth Certificate
2. Minimum Age of the male or groom must be 21 years. He must have to bring- National ID card or School Certificates for example-SSC/JSC/JDC certificates or Passport or Birth Certificate.
It should be noted that for the proof of age both bride and groom must show any of the following documents: National ID card or School Certificates for example-SSC/JSC/JDC certificates or n Passport or Birth Certificate. No affidavit or any other documents will be accepted without those certificates to reveal the actual age.
3. Declaration or offer of marriage by one of the parties and acceptance (Kabul) by the other party.
4. Minimum two witnesses must be present. In the case of a female witness, it will be counted as- 1 male=2 female. For example, the total witness in a marriage can be two male or 2 females and one male.
5. One person will be present as Guardian or informally called Ukil/ Ukil Baba of the parties.
6. Dower money or Denmahar(in Bangla) must be decided by the Guardian of the parties or by the Parties to the marriage.
Marriage Registration Fees:
Marriage Registration Fees:
Marriage registration fees are fixed by the government on the basis of Dower Money.
1. For each 1000/- (One Thousand Taka) of dower money, registration fee is 12.50/- (Twelve Taka and Fifty Paisa)
2. For each 1, 00,000/- (One Lac Taka) of dower money, registration fee is 1,250/- (One Thousand Two Hundred and Fifty Taka)
3. After 4, 00,000/- (Four Lac Taka), for each Lac registration fee is 100/- (One Hundred Taka)
According to Muslim law, marriage is a civil contract and doesn’t require cultural or social formalities. Like any other contract, it has two parties. Since it is a very important contract for everyone as it enables someone to choose his/ her life partner, it is very important that the contracting parties take every precautions and sincerity while entering into such contract. If the parties don’t have “full knowledge” about what they are doing while entering into the marriage contract. As partial knowledge is dangerous because in future it may produce lots of complicacy that may lead to divorce and legal suit/case. So it can be strongly advised that someone should take professional help, for example-lawyer, to complete such important agreement.
Muslim Shia Marriage in Bangladesh:
Shia and Sunni Muslims are two very distinct sects of Muslims and should not be confused with each other. Each has a unique set of customs, traditions and even ceremonies. The way that a Shia and Sunni marriage is solemnized differs greatly in various countries of the world. But in Bangladesh, the legal requirements for Shia and Sunni Muslim marriage are not so different because Muslim Family Law doesn’t allow Muta (non-permanent) marriage, though the social customs, traditions, and ceremonies might differ.
According to Shia law marriage in Islam can be of two folds:
- Marriage through a regular contract which is called “permanent”, and
- Muta marriage – a non-permanent marriage for a fixed term.
Muta is distinguished from regular, permanent marriage on the basis of its nature. As it is temporary it does not reflect any far-reaching consequences. For example, Muta marriage does not create mutual rights of inheritance between the man and the woman, but children conceived while it exists are legitimate and capable of inheriting from both parents. All that is needed for Muta is a valid contract with a mention of the specified period accompanied by a fixed amount of dower. It is important to note that for a valid Muta two witnesses are required as is also required for the permanent marriage.
Shia and Sunni matrimony consist of very different marriage formalities. In a Sunni marriage ceremony, it is mandatory to have two adult consenting males present for the entire length of the ceremony as witnesses. Such witnesses are not required as per the law and rules of Sunni divorce as it can be done in the presence of only the husband or the wife.
In regard to Shia marriage, the procedure is totally different as in this instance where the witnesses are mandatory required to be present in the event of a divorce and not while the marriage takes place.