Derogatory information is being omitted from Nikahnama

Logan D Suza

Derogatory information is being omitted from Nikahnama

On the orders of the High Court, initiatives have been taken to revise the registration form in the case of Muslim marriages. According to the order of the High Court, the derogatory word ‘Kumari’ for women is being removed from the Nikahnama form. Apart from this, how many wives of the groom are present should also be reported in the revised form.

According to sources in the Ministry of Law, the draft (revised) form has already been prepared. Besides, the educational qualification of Nikah registrars (Qazis) is being amended from Alim to Fazil and instead of setting up multiple offices at their own expense at convenient locations in Unions and Municipalities, the rules are being amended to make only one Qazi office. A notification may be issued this month.

Rules were framed in 2009 in light of the Muslim Marriage and Divorce (Registration) Act, 1974. Nikahnama form asks for 25 types of information. In paragraph 5 of the form, the information is sought as to whether the daughter is a virgin, a widow or a divorced woman? The draft form amended it to read ‘Whether the daughter is an unmarried, widowed or divorced woman?’

Paragraph 21 of the current Nikahnama form asks, ‘Whether the bridegroom currently has a wife and, if so, whether the groom has obtained the permission of the Arbitration Council under the Muslim Family Law Ordinance, 1961, to enter into another marriage?” , single, divorced, dangerous or not? How many wives, if any, and whether the groom has obtained the permission of the Arbitration Council under the Muslim Family Law Ordinance, 1961 to enter into another marriage? Apart from this, the information about the number of wives who will be present will also have to be given in the new form.

Human rights organization Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST), Naripaksha and Mahila Parishad filed a public interest writ petition in the High Court on September 1, 2014 seeking amendment of Nikahnama form. In that year, the High Court issued a ruling to the concerned parties. On August 25, 2019, the High Court ruled that writing the word ‘virgin’ in paragraph 5 of the Kabinnama in the case of Muslim marriages is illegal and null and void. In the full judgment published on November 17, 2022, the concerned government ministry was directed to take necessary measures to remove the word ‘Kumari’ from the Nikahnama form. Besides, the court also directed to mention the current marital status of the groom in paragraph 21 of the marriage certificate.

According to the judgment, clauses 21 and 22 of the Nikahnama only asked for information about whether the groom currently has a valid marriage. But whether the bridegroom is a divorcee or a bachelor or a celibate, no information is sought. On the other hand, Article No. 5 asks whether the daughter is divorced or widowed, whether the daughter has had sexual relations anywhere before – such information is humiliating, discriminatory, prejudicial and unconstitutional.

In this regard, Maulana Kazi Iqbal Hossain, Secretary General of Bangladesh Muslim Nikah Registrar Association, told Samakal that there was a demand for revision of the Nikah registration form for a long time. Several issues are being rectified as per the directions of the High Court.

In this context, Law Secretary (Law and Justice) said. Golam Sarwar told Samakal that as per the directives of the High Court, some issues including the Nikah registration form are being amended. It will be sent for vetting after the approval of the Law Minister. He expressed hope that this program will be completed this month.

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