The Lahore High Court (LHC) has restored Section 7 of the Christian Divorce Act 1869, enabling Christian couples to seek divorce without accusing each other of adultery. However, the court noted that restored Section 7 should be read with Section 10 of the Act.
‘It mean that grounds of divorce on the basis of adultery are available and if any one wishes to invoke them, then there is no bar. But for those who wish to seek divorce on the ground of irretrievable breakdown of marriage, they can rely on Section 7 of the Act and avail the additional grounds of divorce, available under the Matrimonial Causes Act, 1973 (UK),’ it added.
LHC Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah passed these directions in a detailed verdict, issued here on Friday. A petition was filed in this regard by one Amin Masih, challenging a provision of the Christian Divorce Act, 1869, which requires a Christian couple to use allegation of adultery for dissolution of marriage. The Section 7 of the Act was suspended by former president Ziaul Haq through an Ordinance.
However, the court declared item 7 (2) of the 1981 Ordinance as unconstitutional and illegal being in violation of the minority rights guaranteed under the constitution to the petitioner and the Christians in Pakistan. The court had reserved the verdict after rehearing arguments of the parties on the petition and it was allowed on June 20.
The petitioner, through his counsel, Sheraz Zaka argued that under Section 10 of the Divorce Act 1869, a man could divorce his wife by levelling the charge of adultery only. He contended that it was not only in conflict with dignity of a woman but also a violation of Articles 9 and 14 of the Constitution. Sheraz Zaka argued that Section 7 of the Christian Divorce Act should be restored and Christians should have other grounds available as applicable in the courts’ of United Kingdom.—APP