LHC seeks progress report on Christian Divorce Act bill


A division bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC) sought progress over a bill submitted in parliament for legislation related to the Christian Divorce Act 1869.

According to reports in the local media, the bench, headed by Justice Ayesha A Malik, was hearing an Intra Court Appeal (ICA) challenging the decision of former LHC Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah which allowed Christian men to divorce women for reasons other than adultery. The former LHC CJ had declared the ordinance of the martial law regime as a violation of basic constitutional rights and set it aside. He restored Section 7 under which several reasons were available to divorce a Christian woman.

The appellant, Emanuel Frances, in his application submitted to the ICA contended the Divorce Act be restored to its previous form as the Bible only allows allegations of adultery as grounds for divorce.  He contended that the decision was intervening with someone’s religion and requested the court to set aside the decision of the single bench.

The division bench raised a question of whether a judge of the LHC had the powers to restore a repealed law of parliament through his or her decision. Additional Advocate General Anwaar Hussain told the court that the single bench had not restored the whole ineffective law, adding the single bench had just restored a specific section in the light of basic rights described in the Constitution of Pakistan. He further contended that the Christian women could not be left in a state of helplessness if the parliament did not fulfill its obligation. He said the role of the judiciary would come to an end in society if the decision of the single bench was set aside.

Justice Ayesha A Malik remarked they were fully aware of the self-respect of Christian women and the problems faced by them and that the parliament would play its vital role to find a solution to the serious issue.