NEW DELHI: Marriages are made in heaven, but divorces happen in courts. In what could be the first step by the BJP-led government towards adopting a Uniform Civil Code — a contentious communal issue — the NDA, for starters, is in the process of amending the Christian Divorce Law to bring uniformity to divorce laws across religions, except in Islam.
As of now, it is a tough task for Christian couples to get divorced as Section 10A (1), under which they file for legal separation, states that a petition for dissolution of marriage by mutual consent can be presented before a court only after a judicial separation of two years. This period is just one year for couples from other communities as per the Special Marriage Act, the Hindu Marriage Act, and the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act. Once the amendment is enacted, the divorce procedure will be the same for couples of all faiths.
A source says the government has decided to amend Section 10A (1) of the Divorce Act as per the suggestion of the Supreme Court, which had urged it to deliberate on bringing uniformity in laws across religions.
According to the source, the decision has been made jointly by various branches of the government such as the ministries of Minority Affairs, Women and Child Development, and Law and Justice, since Prime Minister Modi wanted “total clarity” on the matter given its potential to generate controversy.
“The government is very clear on its intentions, but wants to avoid unnecessary controversies. Hence it has consulted all stakeholders on the issue, including religious leaders,” said the source.
The Church, despite its canonical opposition to divorce, is learnt to have given its approval to the amendment which will bring the Christian community at par with others on divorce laws.
Proposed change in the law
The Central government has decided to amend Section 10A (1) of the Divorce Act. Once this happens, discussions on having a Uniform Civil Code for all faiths in line with a Constitutional provision will begin as a women’s rights issue.