A division bench of the Kerala High Court has declared a key prerequisite for divorce among Christians unconstitutional.
The court said that the stipulated one-year period of separation after filing for divorce by mutual consent is void.
The court’s decision relates to the case of a Christian couple, whose petition was not admitted by the family court citing restriction on filing a petition under the Divorce Act 1869. It even refused to number their petition.
The bench headed by justices Muhammad Mustaque and Shobha Neapen also noted that the Union government should seriously consider having a ’uniform marriage code‘ in India to promote the common welfare of spouses in matrimonial disputes.
The decision brings the law governing Christians on par with the Hindu Marriage Act, Parsi Marriage Act and Special Marriage Act.
The court held that the purpose of the separation period was to prevent impulsive decisions, but was quick to note that the laws governing other communities allowed for relaxation of the stipulated period under special circumstances.
Currently, Section 10 A of the Divorce Act, 1869, stipulates a period of one year or more after filing a divorce by mutual consent for Christians, which the court said violated fundamental rights.
The court further noted that family courts have become another battleground and the time has come for a law ”applicable to all parties” on a ”common uniform platform”.
The ruling, therefore, further strengthens the case for bringing in a uniform civil code in the country.
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