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HC: Omit 'Kumari' from marriage registration form

  • Published at 04:14 pm August 25th, 2019
High Court-HC-court
File photo of Bangladesh Supreme Court Dhaka Tribune

The High Court also directs the government to include Clause 4 (A) in the form which will stipulate the marital status of a groom

The High Court Division has directed the government to omit the word "Kumari" (virgin) from the Muslim marriage registration form (Nikahnama) before the name of the bride, and use the word "unmarried" instead.

A High Court bench of Justice Naima Haider and Justice Khizir Ahmed Choudhury gave the direction following a writ petition filed jointly by Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (Blast), Naripokkho, and Bangladesh Mohila Parishad.

In the marriage registration form under the Muslim Marriages and Divorces (Registration) Act 1974, Clause 5 requires the bride to make a statement regarding her marital status and sexual history, specifically stating whether she is a virgin or widowed or divorced.

The High Court also asked the government to include Clause 4 (A) in the form, which will stipulate the marital status of a groom, stating "married, widower or divorcee."

Advocate ZI Khan Panna, accompanied by Advocate Ainun Nahar Lipi, represented the writ petitioners. Besides, Advocate Israt Hasan stood for a supplementary petition over the same matter. 

In 2014, the writ petition was filed in the public interest challenging Clause 5 of the prescribed marriage registration form.

The petitioners said the provision of Clause 5 perpetuated discrimination between women and men and resulted in violation of the Constitution.

On September 14, 2014, a High Court bench of Justice Naima Haider and Justice Md Jahangir Hossain issued a rule asking the government to explain why the provision of Clause 5 in the marriage registration form would not be declared illegal.

Secretaries to the Ministry of Public Administration and Religious Affairs, director general of the Department of Printing and Publications, and deputy director of the Bangladesh Form and Publication Office were made respondents to the rule.