How to do a court marriage: legal formalities

S ara and Momin love each other very much. As Sara's family do not support this relation, and forcing her to marry someone of their choice, finding no other suitable way they fled away from home and conducted a court marriage. We are used to hearing this type of story since our childhood be it real or fake, in movie or in life. So let me tell you what actually court marriage is. Is it prohibited under law? How to do a court marriage? What shall be the effect of a court marriage? Is there any possibility to be harassed legally? Is it a crime? Shall the boy (groom) be accused of abducting and raping the (girl) bride? Is it prohibited under religious law? What is the procedure of solemnizing a marriage through court marriage?

So let's find the answers of those frequently asked questions. "Court Marriage" is a simple declaration. This is a declaration before the 'Notary Public' through 'Affidavit' which requires stamp paper and signature of both parties. So here curious mind wants to know, shall they make the affidavit before marriage or after marriage? The answer is simple, as they declare themselves as husband and wife in the affidavit they have to get married first before the registrar of marriage to show that they got married with proper consent and they were eligible to make the said contract. According to Bangladeshi Civil Law, all marriages in Bangladesh require appropriate Marriage Registrar. After registering the marriage the couple has to obtain marriage certificate. Marriage Certificate is the principle & core document of marriage. You have to keep in mind that the document and processes known as "Court Marriage" is the supplementary and additional document which has no value without marriage certificate. Mere Affidavits of marriage from applicants, relatives or family members is not accepted as to render the validity of a marriage in the eye of the law.

Muslim Sunni Marriage Procedure in Bangladesh

Conditions for 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. Note that no affidavit without those certificates shall be accepted to render the proper 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 case of female witness it will be counted as- 1 male=2 female. For example: witness can be two male or 2 females and one male.
5. One person will be present as guardian or Ukil/ Ukilbaba of the parties.
6. Dower money or Denmahar must be decided by the guardian of the parties or by Parties of the marriage.

Marriage Registration Fees:

Marriage registration fees are fixed 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) Example: suppose Dower money is 1000/-, so registration fee shall be = 12.50/-, this calculation shall be applicable only upto 4 lac, after 4 lac, for every 1 lac 100 taka shall be added to main amount.
Dower money 1 lac taka, registration fee= 1,250/-
Dower money 4 lac taka, registration fee= 5,000/-
Dower money 5 lac taka, registration fee= 5,100/-

Religious Formalities:

The Kazi will do the religious formalities. He will recite Surah for marriage and ask for consent of the parties to the marriage.

Legal formalities:

Registration procedure:

For Muslim marriages the applicants/parties should contact the Qazi office or the registrar who solemnized the marriage and register the marriage at once in marriage register book and give them a receipt of the marriage certificate/ Nikah Nama (Bengali and English version) to the parties for colleting the same. Where a marriage is solemnized by a person other than the Nikah registrar, the bridegroom of the marriage shall report it to the concerned Nikah Registrar within 30 days from the date of such solemnization, a person who contravenes this procedure shall be punished with a simple imprisonment which may extend to 2 years or with fine of 3000 taka, or with both under Muslim Marriages And Divorces (Registration) Act-1974.

Collection of Kabin-nama:

Parties of the marriage can get Kabin-nama showing the marriage registration receipt after 1 week from the marriage. In case of an emergency Kabin-nama can be collected within a day.

Of different religion:

If the parties of marriage are from different religion then the "Special Marriage Act-III of 1872" is applicable for them. In that case, they have to contact different marriage registrar like Kazi. Here, Marriage Certificate is the principle & core document like other marriages. Endorsement of a marriage in the name of "Court Marriage" is just a fake marriage, which does not have any legal effect, rather is a mere declaration. Hence, the concerned parties must observe their religion rituals and registration to solemnize a valid marriage. Notary public authenticated documents have little worth to prove a legal claim. It basically ensures originality of a document or certifies a formal declaration.

In the absence of specific Bangladeshi governmental instructions regarding Hindu/Buddhist/Christian marriage registrations, the applicant should contact Marriage registration with the City Corporation, priest who solemnized the marriage or the administration of the Church/Temple where the marriage was solemnized.

What if parents of bride file a case against bridegroom for abducting their daughter?

Sometimes we see that finding no other way to teach a lesson to the groom the bride side files a case against groom for abducting their daughter under Section 7 of the Nari O Sishu Nirjatan Daman Ain, 2000. And as the offence is cognizable and non-bailable police arrest the groom at once, and if parent's side of the bride is influential, police use torture and force the groom to make him confess that he abducted the girl. in that case the bride has to be audacious enough to save her life partner. The procedure is simple: she shall go to the nearest 1st class magistrate court and show the marriage certificate/ Nikahnama/ Kabin Nama and affidavit and give a statement under Section 22 of the said Act before the magistrate that, the groom did not abduct her but she willingly fled away with him and she is major and competent to conduct the marriage. What do you think? Yeah! Case closed. The groom will be released from custody. But keep in mind one thing if the parents of the bride take a death vow to harass the groom, there are lots of ways to do so. But who has that cruel heart to harass his son-in-law? After all the love-birds have chosen each other and yet not committed any crime!

Formalities and events

The official wedding reception is the most common formality that guests attend and is expected to have the highest footfall. There are of course quite a number of events that take place before, after and even along with the wedding reception.

--This article is written by Ishrat Hasan and was publised in The Daily Observer on Thursday, 30 July, 2015.