For a long time, we have had many misconceptions about the law, and we often take those misconceptions too seriously. In reality, they have no legal basis.
There is a saying in Latin, 'Ignorantia juris non-excusat', which, if translated to English, means, 'ignorance of the law is no excuse'. That is if someone does something against the law and says, "I did not know about the law," that excuse will not be accepted. Because, when a law is passed in parliament and gazetted, it is assumed that every citizen of that state knows about it.
We already know the dangers of not knowing relevant laws. For example, if you are ignorant of driving rules and traffic laws, you can crash your car and kill someone on the road. But in some cases, misunderstanding the law is more dangerous than not knowing the law itself. Here in Bangladesh, we don't quite like to scroll through the laws that we have. Rather, we develop ideas of law enforcement from cinemas, dramatic courtroom scenes etc.
In a society where people take fallacious things to be true, justice is obstructed. So here I talk about a couple of misconceptions regarding some of the laws that we somehow developed an understanding of from cinemas or fables.
Disowning a child
Often in movies, we see fathers disowning their children, as if an emotional outburst is enough to deprive a child of their inheritance. In society too, we hear about declarations of a child being disowned and we think if a child is disowned, he/she won't receive their inheritance. Such notices appear in newspapers well.
In fact, there is no such provision in our law for disowning a child. One can declare in his/her will that they have disowned a child or children, however, it will have no legal basis nor will it have any impact on the inheritance.
The law does not allow the parent to deprive any child of the inheritance. If the parent wants to exclude the child from the inheritance, then before the parent's death, the property must be sold or gifted to someone else.
Many children are deprived of their due rights on the pretext of being disowned, only because a superstition has been established in the name of the law. So let me say it once again - neither Muslim law nor Hindu law has any provision for disowning a child. It is illegal and nothing but a superstition.
This one is a popular one. Many people go to the court area to get married, and it's popularly known as 'court marriage'. Sadly, in legal terms, there is no such thing. Since a court marriage has no legal basis, it can be nothing but a fraud. The so-called 'court marriage' is only a declaration of marriage.
According to the Muslim Marriage and Divorce (Registration) Act, 1974, every marriage must be registered, and the responsibility of registering the marriage falls mainly on the groom. Registration of marriage is mandatory within 30 days of the completion of the marriage. Otherwise, the Kazi and the groom are punishable by imprisonment of up to two years or a fine of up to three thousand taka or both.
If a Kazi conducts a marriage, he must immediately register it. It is very difficult to prove a marriage without a Nikahnama or Kabinnama. If the marriage is registered, it makes it easier to follow certain procedures in the case of divorce. Kabinnama is required for the recovery of dowry and maintenance of the wife. Kabinnama is required to confirm the legal identity of the child.
If the marriage affidavit (court marriage) is only completed without Kabinnama, it becomes difficult to obtain marital rights. If any marital problems arise after the alleged court marriage, then neither party has any recourse to the law. Since the law does not recognise this marriage, it cannot provide any solution as well.
These cinematic practices of court marriage often lead to misery for women of the society.
Thus, when these 'superstitions' about the laws are established in people's minds, injustice prevails and a group of frauds try to take advantage of that. So please visit your government's law ministry website and search for any law you want to learn about. It's high time we get out of on-screen dramatic courtrooms.
The writer is a student of law at the International Islamic University Chittagong.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of The Business Standard.