LHC hears case over petition seeking restoration of Section 7 in Christian Divorce Act

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Christian Divorce Act in Pakistan

Lahore High Court entertains a petition seeking restoration of Section 7 in Christian Divorce Act in Pakistan.

According to details, the Lahore High Court on Wednesday, January 13 had issued notices to the Federal and Punjab governments regarding a petition which sought restoration of Section 7 of the Christian Divorce Act 1869. Additionally, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah issued notices to former Bishop of Pakistan Alexander John Malik and Bishop Irfan Jamil in this regard.

In 1981, the Section 7 was omitted from the Christian Divorce Act 1869, by means of an ordinance which was generated by then military ruler General Zia-ul-Haq. The petition was filed by a Pakistani Christian Amin Masih.

Section 7 of the Christian Divorce Act 1869 states that the changes occurring from time to time to the Matrimonial Causes Act in England will be taken into consideration while the law is being updated. Whereas, the Matrimonial Causes Act in England permits a Christian couple to ask for divorce on just and sound grounds rather than having being obligated to prove a charge of adultery.

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Nonetheless, the Christian Divorce Act 1869 had not been incorporated with alteration which may entitle Christian men and women to file for a divorce suit either through mutual consent or on just and reasonable grounds other than charges of adultery.

While speaking in this regard, Amin Masih’s defence counsel, Advocate Shiraaz Zaka argued in the court that ever since Section 7 was omitted from the Act; the principles of the English Divorce Court had been eclipsed and ignored which rendered the whole law to be administered in an unfair manner.

Advocate Shiraaz Zaka argued that in the UK the Matrimonial Causes Act had been interpreted in a “liberal manner” which facilitated both Christian men and women alike, to part their ways in case marriage collapsed permanently or else with a mutual consent, however, this ground has not been not available in Pakistan for Christians.

Currently, Under Section 10 of the Christian Divorce Act 1869, an only ground is available for Christian men to divorce their wives; which essentially required the husband to charge his wife of adultery.

Advocate Shiraaz Zaka beseeched the LHC to declare the omission of Section 7 from the Christian Divorce Act 1869 null and void. At this occasion, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah adjourned the court hearing till February 18 while issuing notices to the respondents.