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Law Commission wants Christian divorce law to be amended

Article: Law Commission wants Christian divorce law to be amended

The Central Government has been asked to review a 150-year old Christian divorce law that is virtually "harsh upon Christian women in India".

The Law Commission - in light of a Christian woman filing a petition to divorce her NRI husband - apprised the government to amend the colonial era law, Section 2 of the Divorce Act, 1869, formulated by the British.

The Deccan Herald quoted the report of Law Commission chairman A R Laxmanan, who wrote: “The Law Commission has come to the conclusion that Section 2 of the Divorce Act, 1869, insofar as it concerns the jurisdictional rule in regard to petitions for divorce, is not only not in tune with the present times but is also harsh upon Christian women in India.”

Christian women, according to the Act, cannot file a petition before a court seeking divorce if her husband is a citizen of a foreign country.

As a suggestion to the Union law minister Veerappa Moily, Justice Laxmanan has sought the permission for courts to decide on the dissolution of marriages solemnised abroad. The report demands that Indian courts be allowed to entertain such petitions where either of the parties have their residence in India.

Laxmanan argued that the British law has made Christian woman unable to approach the court. This, even after their husbands have deserted them and are living abroad.

According to the Deccan Herald, Centre had referred the ruling of the Madras High Court in the Indira Rachel vs Union of India to the Law Commission for suitable suggestion.

In 1995, Indira Rachel had filed a petition before the Madras High Court seeking direction to allow her to file a petition for divorce from her husband Andrew Solomon Raj, who was then working as assistant supervisor with the Bank of Kuwait and Middle East in Kuwait. However, before the court could decide on the matter, Raj died, making the petition ineffective.

The high court later suggested to the government: “Therefore, according to us, such provision should be interpreted to mean that the courts in India shall be entitled to entertain petition for dissolution of marriage where either of the parties has domiciled in India at the time when the petition is presented.”

By: CT News Desk, Wednesday, 23 September 2009


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