Notices Issued For Repealing Christian Divorce Act
Lahore High Court Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah issued notices to the Federal and Punjab government on a petition challenging the repealing of Section 7 of the Christian Divorce Act. The Court also issued notices to Bishop of Pakistan Alexander John Malik and Bishop of Lahore Irfan Jamil and sought replies from the respondents till March 28. It is also pertinent to mention here that Hina Jillani has been appointed as amicus curaie (friend of the court) to assist on the issue.
The counsel for the petitioner Sheraz Zaka said that after the omission of Section 7 of the Act the principles of English Divorce Court had been overshadowed and neglected which placed the entire statute to be administered in an ex-facie and discriminatory manner.
He said in the UK the Matrimonial Causes Act was now interpreted in a liberal manner providing a cushion to both Christian men and women to part their ways if marriage was an irretrievably broken down or with mutual consent, but this ground was not available in Pakistan for Christians.
The only ground available was in Section 10 of the Act for Christian men to divorce their wives, which required the husband to accuse his wife of adultery, the counsel added.
Advocate Zaka argued that since the protection of minorities was one of the norms/salient features of Constitution of Pakistan, therefore the omission of Section 7 of the Divorce Act 1869 through the ordinance should be declared unconstitutional as well as null and void. He further argued that this had made the lives of estranged Christian couples miserable as they were not even able to divorce with mutual consent. His client had divorced his wife but the dissolution of their marriage was devoid of legal recognition. He said he had no reservations regarding his wife’s character. Zaka said the couple simply did not want to remain together.