Government Proposal Might Allow Christians In India To Divorce A Year After Separation

14/07/2015 4:23 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
Christians in white wedding gowns, Muslims in red burqas, and Hindus in yellow sarees wait for a marriage ceremony at a mass wedding in Siliguri, India, Sunday Jan. 30, 2000. Some153 couples were married. (AP Photo/Tarun Das)

NEW DELHI -- A government proposal may soon allow Christians to file for divorce after a year of separation, similar to other religious communities in India, instead of waiting twice as long.

The government's move comes after the Supreme Court rapped it for not amending the law that did not let Christians divorce after the same period of separation as the rest of the country. The Ministry of Law & Justice has now begun a proposal to amend Section 10A (1) of the Divorce Act, which currently allows a couple to apply for divorce by mutual consent only after judicial separation of two years. The same period is one year under the Special Marriage Act, Hindu Marriage Act, and Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act.

The government proposal will be first reviewed by all stakeholders before a decision can be taken. The apex court, though, is of the view that the proposal should not be shot down, stressing that the discriminatory law against Christians should be amended soon.

It has passed a formal order urging the government to bring uniformity in divorce laws across religions, stating, "We expect the Ministry of Law and Justice to not only file its reply in the matter but also expeditiously take a decision on whether Section 10A (1) requires to be amended.”

Many high courts have struck down this law in individual divorce cases in the past, calling it violative of Articles 14 (right to equality) and 21 (right to life and liberty) of the Constitution.

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