Talaq in English means no divorce
Cantonment court annuls divorce of a Muslim couple after it finds the Talaqnama was drafted in English on the grounds that neither the wife, husband nor the Qazi understand the language.
It is said love has no language and boundaries but when it comes to marriage and divorce, the language does count. This was proved when a civil court set aside and termed a Talaqnama as ‘null and void’ as it was written in English, a language neither the couple nor the witnesses understood. The court also granted maintenance money and other monetary benefits to the woman petitioner after considering the case under the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005.
Jasmine Khan (name changed), a resident of Camp, had filed a case under the provisions of Domestic Violence Act against her 32-year-old husband Nadeem Khan (name changed) of Ghorpade Peth in 2009. The two had got married in 2001.
According to Jasmine’s counsel Vaibhav Mogne, Nadeem used to ill-treat and harass her as she was not able to conceive despite undergoing several medical tests.
In 2008, Nadeem threw her out of the house over a trivial issue and in November 2008, he allegedly prepared a deed of divorce (talaq), although the woman had refused to sign it. “It was just a Rs 100 stamp paper on which Talaqnama was drafted in English,” Mogne said, adding, the Talaqnama was dispatched to Jasmine by post.
Judicial Magistrate (First Class) V V Muglikar of Cantonment court, while setting aside the Talaqnama, observed that the couple speaks and knows only Hindi and Urdu languages and there was no need to draft the deed in English. Also, it did not mention maintenance and monetary benefits to the petitioner.
Although Nadeem maintained that he had pronounced ‘talaq’ thrice and signed the deed in presence of witnesses, the court observed that neither the witnesses nor the Qazi knew English language.
Despite the fact that ‘talaq’ was pronounced thrice and communicated, the court observed that as per the observations of the Bombay High Court and Supreme Court, the petitioner should be considered as an aggrieved and harassed person. “She is a legally wedded wife and the marriage still exists. It was not a proper talaq, as the deed was written in English, which was not their medium of communication,” the court said.
The court further observed that the Holy Quran ordains the talaq must be for a reasonable cause and that it must be preceded by an attempt of reconciliation between the husband and wife by two arbiters. The dictum also says that if the attempts of reconciliation fail, the talaq is liable to be effected. But in this case, there was no reconciliation done, hence talaq is not effective.
The court directed Nadeem to pay Rs 2,000 as maintenance and Rs 2,000 as house rent to his wife. Talking to Mirror, Jasmine said neither she nor her husband knows English. “I don’t know why he decided to draft the Talaqnama in English instead of Hindi or Urdu. Besides, the witnesses to the deed were his friends who too did not know English.”
Nadeem refused to speak but said that his lawyer had drafted the Talaqnama. He contended that in Shariat Law the pronouncement of talaq in the absence of the wife is permissible.
Mogne said that Nadeem runs a refrigeration repair workshop and earns good money. Advocate Zakir Maniyar, who deals with the cases of Muslim Personal Law, told Mirror that the court had taken a right decision. “The judgement is given under the provision of Domestic Violence Act, but it may be an interim decision according to the Supreme Court directives,” he said.
However, Maniyar maintained that language is not a barrier in communicating the Talaqnama. “It is preferred that Talaqnama must be written in languages known to both husband and wife. The Talaqnama is not null and void if written in English. However, the court’s order will provide interim relief to the woman. In this instance, the court has taken the right stance,” he added.