The two-year mandatory separation period for Christian couples wanting divorce by mutual consent has come under judicial scrutiny with the Supreme Court on Monday finding merit in a petition challenging its validity.
A bench headed by justice Vikramjit Sen has sought the government’s response on the plea that wants the separation period to be reduced to one year. “It’s a valid point raised,” the bench said, issuing notice to the Centre on Delhi-based Albert Anthony’s petition.
According to Anthony, the provision in the Indian Divorce Act, 1869 which prescribes a minimum 2-year period of separation for Christian couples, filing a suit for mutual consent divorce is discriminatory. He said the personal laws governing divorce for couples of other religion has limited this period to just a year.
“Only on the basis of religion there exists a hostile discrimination as only the Christians, who are governed by the provisions 10 A (1) of the Divorce Act, require to observe separation for a period of two years before applying for divorce by mutual consent,” the petition said.
Though the Kerala and Karnataka high courts have read down the section, the ruling is applicable to the two states only. However, Christians residing in other states are unable to take benefit of the verdicts, he said while seeking a direction to the Center to amend the law and bring it on par with the other statutes governing divorce.