Is divorce granted by Christian personal law valid in India?

Q.  Which of the following is/are true?

1) India has given freedom to its citizens for following personal law of their own religion.
2) Divorce granted by ecclesiastical tribunal under Christian personal law is valid as it can override the law of the land like Muslim Personal Laws.

- Published on 20 Jan 17

a. Only 1
b. Only 2
c. Both 1 and 2
d. Neither 1 nor 2

ANSWER: Only 1
  • Articles 25 to 28 provide freedom of religion to citizens of India.
  • Supreme Court has said that divorce granted by ecclesiastical tribunal under Christian personal law are not valid as it cannot override the law of the land.
  • The apex Court also rejected a PIL that sought according legal sanction to such separations granted by the Church Court.
  • A bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud dismissed the plea saying the issue has been settled by it in its 1996 verdict delivered in the case of Molly Joseph versus George Sebastian.
  • The apex court had then ruled that Canon Law (personal law of Christians) can have theological or ecclesiastical implications to the parties.
  • But after the Divorce Act came into force, a dissolution or annulment granted under such personal law cannot have any legal impact as statute has provided a different procedure and a different code for divorce or annulment.
  • However, when it comes to personal issues (marriage, divorce, inheritance, custody of children, etc.), Muslims in India are governed by the Muslim Personal Law.

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