Punjab directed to amend Christian Divorce Act
LAHORE: The Lahore High Court Thursday directed Punjab Law Department to do legislation to amend the objectionable provisions of Christian Divorce Act 1869.Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah issued this order while disposing of a petition challenging Christian Divorce Act for being derogatory for women.
Petitioner Ameen Masih, a resident of Lahore, submitted that he was a member of Christian community and had a family suit of maintenance pending against him before a civil court. Counsel said that petitioner was not living happily with his wife over the past two years, as he did not enjoy good relations with his in-laws.
He said it was no longer possible for the petitioner to continue this matrimonial relationship and wanted separation but for this purpose he had to accuse his wife of adultery, which she never committed. He said that under the Christian Divorce Act 1869, which exists since colonial period, a Christian can divorce his wife only on one ground and that is an allegation of adultery.
Counsel submitted that even in countries like America and England, a Christian man can file a divorce plea even on the ground of unreasonable behaviour which has enabled divorce petitions to be dealt in an expeditious manner. He said that in our country filing a divorce before the courts on behalf of the Christian husband just on one ground of adultery had made the lives of both male and female deplorable and this is immutable which results in tarnishing the image of a woman in society.
He submitted that the only provision of divorce abridges fundamental rights of Christians and even the objectives resolution in the Constitution empowers that the rights of minorities would be protected. He said that section 10 of the impugned act was ultra vires and in contravention of the Constitution by exercise of judicial review.He requested to declare section 10 of Christian Divorce Act 1869 as in contravention of the Constitution.