Marriage Quazi’s Jurisdiction

Published by The Daily Star on 9th June, 2015 (Link Above)

This week Your Advocate is Barrister Omar Khan Joy, Advocate, Supreme Court of Bangladesh. He is the head of the chambers of a renowned law firm, namely, ‘Legal Counsel’, which has expertise mainly in commercial law, corporate law, family law, employment and labor law, land law, banking law, constitutional law, criminal law, IPR and in conducting litigations before courts of different hierarchies.

I am a 27 year old girl currently residing in Dhanmondi. Two years ago, my husband and I got married in Shantinagar, i.e. my parents’ house. Although the marriage took place at my house, the Quazi who conducted the marriage was brought by my husband’s family, i.e they brought the Quazi who operates at Motijheel where my husband’s family lives. Recently, I have come to know from my uncle that a Quazi from a particular area cannot conduct marriages beyond that area. Is this true? Does this make our marriage invalid?

Thank you for your query on this issue, as it is a commonly occurring, yet frequently misunderstood issue in the context of Muslim marriages in Bangladesh. I shall first detail the situation in general for your convenience, before moving on to consider the particular scenario that you have found yourself in.

The procedure for Muslim marriages in Bangladesh is largely governed by the Muslim Marriages and Divorces (Registration) Act-1974 and the Muslim Marriages and Divorces (Registration) Rules-1975. As per the said Act, Muslim marriage has to be registered within 30 days of solemnization. If the marriage is solemnized by the Quazi himself, it shall be registered at once. It is also to be clarified that a valid marriage does not become void/defective, if the same is not registered. Registration does not confer validity to the marriage. Registration makes the marriage documented and capable of being proved by acceptable evidence. Lack of registration may cast serious doubt on the solemnization of the marriage itself. While the non-registration of the marriage does not make the marriage invalid, the same is considered as a crime punishable even with imprisonment.

The Muslim Marriage/Divorce Registrars are popularly known as ‘Quazis’. They are licensed by the government to register marriages and divorces. His license is granted for a particular geographical area and he can only register marriages solemnized within that area and divorced effected within that area. There is no provision in the law that allows a marriage to be registered by a Quazi in an area if they are not in charge of that particular area as per the requisite license granted by the Government.

As such, it is clear that a Nikah Registrar/Quazi is not authorized to be Nikah Registrar for a place beyond their defined jurisdiction, and in the situation where a marriage is conducted by a Registrar in an area of which he is not in charge; it becomes misconduct on the part of such Nikah Registrar. Commission of such misconduct by the Quazi may result into revocation /suspension/ annulment of his license by the government. Such violation/misconduct by the Quazi does not, however, invalidate the marriage or does not render the registration defective.

In your case, since your marriage had been solemnized in Shantinagar, i.e. your parents; residence, only the Quazi having jurisdiction for Shantinagar area, as opposed to the Quazi from Motijheel, or any other area had the authority for registration of your marriage. As such, the Quazi on your husband’s side, by solemnizing your marriage which is beyond his jurisdiction, has committed misconduct. Nevertheless, there is no reason for you to worry since this misconduct by the Quazi does not make your marriage invalid or does not render the marriage registration defective. I hope the advice will give you some comfort. Those who are planning to get married shall also remember the above notes so that they can register their marriages with the appropriate Quazi offices.

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