Supreme Court : Divorces granted by Church Courts do not have legal approval

By : 20-Jan-2017
Supreme Court Church courts Legal Approval

Disposing off a writ petition filed in the year 2013 seeking a judicial declaration that makes divorce decrees passed by ecclesiastical tribunals or Church Courts as legally valid and binding, the Supreme Court bench seated by Chief Justice of India J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud said on Thursday that divorces granted by the ecclesiastical tribunals or Church Courts are not legally accepted.

Earlier in the year 1996, in a case of Molly Joseph versus George Sebastian the Supreme Court said that the Canon law is only confined to either theological or ecclesiastical, but they does not have a legal impact on the divorce or annulment of the marriage.

The Supreme Court further said, a personal or a religious law cannot have a legal impact on a dissolution or annulment of a marriage, as there is a separate statue that provides for a different procedure and a different code for obtaining divorce or annulment from a marriage binding.

The Supreme Court says in this regard that, “After the Divorce Act came into force, a dissolution or annulment under such personal law cannot have any legal impact as statute has provided a different procedure and a different code for divorce or annulment.”

The petition filed in Supreme Court in the relevant case has read its facts that, “The Canon law enjoins that Catholics are required to marry in a Catholic church and equally enjoins that they seek nullity in the canonical court (ecclesiastical court/ tribunal) also under the Code of Canon Law. Otherwise, the marriage and the dissolution will not be recognised by the Catholic Church.”

However, the Supreme Court has further added that, in a democratic country like India where numerous religions are present with major proportions of people, it is not possible to allow the religious authorities to permit passing divorces.


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