Lahore High Court to rehear the Christian Divorce Act petition case

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Lahore High Court will hear the petition case of the Christian Divorce Act, 1869, today on Monday September 19. LHC Judge Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah had reserved his judgment on the case earlier on May 23. Moreover, by a short order restored Section 7 of the Christian Divorce Act 1869, legally allowing Pakistani Christian couples to file for divorce.

Christian Divorce Act in Pakistan

Section 7 of the Christian Divorce Act 1869 was promulgated by General Zia ul Haq, therefore, Christian couples were barred from filing for divorce other than grounds in compliance with the Biblical teachings. LHC had restored Section 7, on a petition moved by Amin Masih. The petitioner had submitted that he wanted to divorce his wife but could not do so without accusing her of adultery. He had said Section 7 of the Christian Divorce Act, 1869, should be restored to allow couples to end marriages on other grounds.

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In 1981, Section 10 was introduced by General Zia-ul-Haq, which annulled section 7 of the Christian Divorce Act 1869. Section 7 was omitted on the plea that the Biblical teachings did not allow Christian couples to part ways on grounds other than charges of “Adultery.”

In previous hearing Amin Masih’ counsel Sheraz Zaka argued that Section 7 of the “Christian Divorce Act 1869” should be restored according to which “the traditions of the England courts would apply as far as family/divorce issues of Christians are concerned.” He said, “At present, there is only one ground available under Section 10 of the Divorce Act 1869 and that is the charge of adultery only, which is in conflict with the dignity of a woman.”

Before reserving the judgment over the case, Justice Mansoor Ali Shah had heard views of Christian lawmaker MPA Shunila Ruth, Former Bishop of Lahore Alexander John Malik and Human Rights Activist Hina Jilani. Justice Mansoor Ali Shah was also invited by Pope Francis to attend the Judges’ Summit organized by Pontifical Society of Social Sciences in the Vatican, where he had the opportunity to discuss the issue with the Pontiff himself.

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