LAHORE: A division bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC) headed by Justice Ayesha A. Malik on Monday, issued notices to federal and provincial government, seeking reply in an appeal challenging the order of a single bench in which Section 7 of the Christian Divorce Act 1869 was restored.
The said section of the Christian Divorce Act 1869, permits Christian couples to part ways without accusing each other of adultery. The order of the division bench was passed on an appeal moved by Emmanuel Francis, a resident of Faisalabad through his counsel Advocate Saiful Malook. The appellant challenged the decision of the single bench comprising Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah.
Talking to Pakistan Today, Advocate Saiful Malook said that he presented lengthy arguments before the division bench to convince the judges; subsequently, they issued notices seeking replies from both the federal and Punjab government.
The appellant counsel argued that Section 7 was not even the part of the law that was passed by the assembly of that time during the regime of General Zia-ul-Haq. He questioned how the section 7 was restored by a single bench comprising Chief Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, when it was not part of the relevant law of Christian Divorce Act 1869. However, in the said act, there is the Section 10 which manifests that christen couples can only be separated from each other after committing adultery. He challenged how a single bench then could allow a petition against such historic law which was approved by both assembly and the country’s top court. After hearing initial arguments, the bench issued notices to the parties for arguments.
It is pertinent to mention here that Chief Justice (CJ) Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, on June 20 this year, allowed a petition moved by Amin Masih against a provision of the Christian Divorce Act 1869, which requires a Christian couple to use allegation of adultery for dissolution of marriage. The CJ had observed that this would allow Christian couples to separate in a dignified way without having to accuse each other of adultery. The Judge also restored section 7 of the Christian Divorce Act 1869 enabling the couples to approach a court of law for dissolution of marriage on ordinary grounds.
Amin Masih through his counsel Advocate Sheraz Zaka prayed for the restoration of the section 7, saying that he wanted to divorce his wife but without accusing her of adultery. It is worth mentioning here that the court has earlier sought opinion of 17 renowned personalities including religious scholars, Christian parliamentarians and federal minister for Human Rights and Minorities.