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Divorce granted by Church Court will not be valid as it cannot override the Law: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court ruled out a plea to legalise Canon Law, which is the personal law for emancipation for the Catholics where church court allows separation

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New Delhi, Jan 19, 2017: The Supreme Court ruled today,  Divorce which is granted by the ecclesiastical tribunal under Christian personal law will not be valid as it cannot override the law, rejecting a PIL that asked for according legal sanction to such annulments granted by the Church Court.

The plea lodged by Clarence Pais, a former president of a Karnataka Catholic association was dismissed by a bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud, saying this matter has been settled in its 1996 verdict delivered in the Molly Joseph versus George Sebastian case, mentioned PTI.

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“Canon Law (personal law of Christians) may have theological or ecclesiastical implications to the parties. But after the Divorce Act came into force, a dissolution or emancipation 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,” the apex court had given out its verdict.

In his PIL filed in 2013, Pais had said the divorce allowed by a Church, set up under its personal law, should be considered valid under the Indian common law as was done in the case of Muslims when it comes to ‘triple talaq’.

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Former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee who appeared for Pais, had mentioned that when oral ‘triple talaq’ could get legal sanctity for granting divorce to Muslim couples, why could Canon law decrees not be made legal on courts of law.

According to his allegations, many Catholic Christians, who married after getting divorce from Christian courts were subject to criminal charges of bigamy as such separations are not recognised by the criminal and civil courts.

Pais, in his plea, had stated, “It is reasonable that when the courts in India recognises dissolution of marriage (by pronouncing the word talaq three times) under Mohammedan Law which is Personal law of the Muslims, the courts should also recognise for the purpose of dissolution of marriage Canon Law as the personal law of the Indian Catholics.”

The plea also pointed out that Canon Law is the personal law of Catholics and has the right to be applied and enforced by a criminal court while looking into a case under section 494 (bigamy) of IPC.

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“This is also applicable for sanction of prosecution considered for alleged bigamy of a Catholic spouse who has married after obtaining a decree for nullity of the first marriage from the Ecclesiastical Tribunal (Christian court),” the plea had stated.

The Centre, however, had protested the plea saying Canon law cannot be accepted to override Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872 and Divorce Act, 1869.

– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter: @dubumerang

 

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India Gets A Win, Supreme Court Decriminalizes Homosexuality

In December 2013, a Supreme Court bench said that it was for the legislature to look into desirability of deleting section 377 of IPC.

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Homosexuality, India
SC decriminalises homosexuality, victory for gay rights. Pixabay

 In a historic verdict, the Supreme Court on Thursday decriminalised homosexuality between consenting adults by declaring Section 377, the penal provision which criminalised gay sex, as “manifestly arbitrary”.

In separate but unanimous verdicts, a five-judge Constitution Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice Rohinton Nariman, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Indu Malhotra partially struck down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) as unconstitutional.

The bench said it is no longer an offence for LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/transsexual, intersex and queer/questioning) community to engage in consensual sex between two adults in private.

Reading out the judgment, Chief Justice Misra said attitudes and mentality have to change to accept others’ identity and accept what they are, and not what they should be.

Homosexuality, India
LGBTIQ people have a right to live unshackled from the shadow.
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“It is the constitutional and not social morality which will prevail,” said the court.

The verdict sparked celebrations in the LGBTIQ community across India even as the judgment was being read out. Many of the community members who had assembled outside the apex court jumped in joy and distributed sweets.

Chief Justice Misra said consensual sex between adults in a private space, which is not harmful to women or children, cannot be denied as it is a matter of individual choice.

Section 377 will not apply to consensual same-sex acts between homosexuals, heterosexuals, lesbians, the court said, clarifying that sexual act without consent and bestiality will continue to be an offence under section 377.

“An individual has full liberty over his or her body and his or her sexual orientation is a matter of one’s choice,” said the Chief Justice.

“Time to bid adieu to prejudicial perceptions deeply ingrained in social mindset. Time to empower LGBTIQ community against discrimination. They should be allowed to make their choices,” he added.

Homosexuality, India
In separate but unanimous verdicts, a five-judge Constitution Bench struck down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) as unconstitutional. Pixabay

 

In a concurring judgement, Justice Nariman said homosexuality is “not a mental disorder or disease”.

He said the LGBTIQ community has an equal right to live with dignity and are entitled to equal protection of law. He directed the Centre to give wide publicity to this judgment to remove the stigma attached to homosexuality.

Justice Chandrachud said to deny the LGBTIQ community their right to sexual orientation is a denial of their citizenship and a violation of their privacy.

“They cannot be pushed into obscurity by an oppressive colonial legislation… Sexual minorities in India have lived in fear, hiding as second class citizens,” said Justice Chandrachud, adding “the state has no business to intrude on such matters”.

Justice Indu Malhotra said that history owes an apology to the LGBTIQ community for all that they have suffered on account of the ignorance of the majority about homosexuality.

“LGBTIQ people have a right to live unshackled from the shadow,” she said.

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The Supreme Court verdict, which overruled its own earlier judgment, assumes significance as in the earlier round of litigation in 2013, the top court had reversed a Delhi High Court ruling decriminalising homosexuality.

The Delhi High Court bench, headed by then Chief Justice A.P. Shah, had in July 2009 legalised homosexual acts between consenting adults by overturning the 149-year-old law — finding it unconstitutional and a hurdle in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

In December 2013, a Supreme Court bench comprising Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya in the Suresh Kumar Koushal and another vs Naz Foundation and others case, had set aside the high court’s judgment and said that it was for the legislature to look into desirability of deleting section 377 of IPC.

The matter was subsequently resurrected in July 2016, when a fresh petition was filed by members of the LGBTIQ community — dancer N.S. Johar, journalist Sunil Mehra, chef Ritu Dalmia, hotelier Aman Nath and business executive Ayesha Kapur — which was then marked to the Constitution Bench by a Division Bench.

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The reference was made on the basis of submission that it was the first time that individuals directly affected by the provision were approaching the court.

Among the petitioners are a batch of current and former students of Indian Institutes of Technology. Claiming to represent more than 350 LGBTIQ alumni, students, staff and faculty from the IITs, the petitioners said that the existence of Section 377 had caused them “mental trauma and illnesses, such as clinical depression and anxiety and relegated some of them to second-class citizenship”. (IANS)