Catholics differ on SC divorce verdict

January 25, 2017 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

New Delhi, January 25, 2017: After the Supreme Court took a firm stand, refusing to grant legal validity to marriages annulled by Ecclesiastical Tribunals under the canon law, differing voices have emerged within the community.

While one set of Catholics is rallying its support behind the law of the land, the other faction believes that the government must take a larger view and bring necessary amendments in the law.

Reiterating that the matter taken up by the Supreme Court has been decided earlier as well in the Molly Sebastian case, John Dayal, former president of All India Catholic Union, said, “I have always opposed the Ecclesiastical in its overreach on annulling marriages. Personal laws cannot override civil laws passed by the Parliament. While there is nothing new in the observation made by the court, I support that only civil courts have the jurisprudence to grant divorce.”

Similar views were echoed by Dr MP Raju, senior counsel who opposed the PIL filed by Clarence Pais, an advocate and former president of Catholic Association of Dakshina Kannada. The PIL had demanded that the SC grants legal sanction on the decree of divorces issued by a church court.

“The Supreme Court had earlier upheld the judgment of Kerala High Court in the Molly Sebastian case, declaring that Ecclesiastical Tribunals cannot grant divorce, at the same time granting them approval to decide a few matters in the church courts,” he shared.

The counsel further argued that canon law cannot be made a personal law as the ramifications could be disastrous.

“This law has limited remedies in terms of marital law, and provides partial relief to sparring couples. If it is declared a personal law, men, women and children will be deprived of the many relief measures that are part of the Divorce Act. It can profoundly affect alimony, maintenance and custody issues since these are not completely covered under canon law,” Dr Raju argued.

Meanwhile, AC Michael, former member, Delhi Minorities Commission, shared a divergent view. Maintaining that he is a law abiding citizen and respects the law of the land, Michael questioned why churches cannot be allowed to annul marriages when as per law they can solemnise them.

“Marriages solemnised by clergy have legal sanctity. In the same vein, why cannot divorce decree given by them be considered legal? We will appeal to the Centre to look into this dichotomy and make necessary amendments.

At the same time, I respect the verdict given by the SC,” he stated.

The Supreme Court on Jan 19 said that a divorce granted by Ecclesiastical Tribunal under Christian personal law is not valid as it cannot override the law. The PIL filed in 2013 by Clarence Pais was dismissed saying the issue was settled by the SC in its 1996 verdict delivered in the case of Molly Joseph versus George Sebastian. Pais, in his PIL, had requested the divorce granted by a church should be considered valid under the Indian common law.

– dna

Enter Google AdSense Code Here

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!