After Sharia Courts, Indian Christians wants Christian Courts, Supreme Courts wants uniform civil code

Wonder-how-long-India-will-remain-a-secular-country-SCNEW DELHI: Expressing concern over growing influence of religion on social issues, the Supreme Court on Monday wondered how long India would remain a secular country but batted for a uniform civil code. 

“It is a secular country but I don’t know how long it will remain so,” Justice Vikramjit Sen said during the hearing on a PIL seeking recognition for Christian courts set up under its personal law. 

Justice Sen said law should not be compelled to recognize dictates of personal law in civil and family matters like divorce, marriage and adoption. 

The bench, also including Justice C Nagappan, however, said courts should not go into the area as every religion then would say that the law should incorporate their personal law. “We have to stamp religion out of civil matters,” it said. 

It, however, granted four weeks time to the Centre to file a reply on the petition which said ‘Canon Law’ was the personal law of Indian Christians and that a decree of dissolution of marriage granted by an ecclesiastical court should be held valid and binding. 

The petitioner, Clarence Pais, a former president of the Catholic Association of Dakshina Kannada in Karnataka, said many Catholics, who married after getting divorce from Christian courts, faced criminal charges of bigamy as such divorces were not recognized by the courts. He said ‘Canon Law’ had to be applied and enforced by a criminal court while deciding a case under Section 494 (bigamy) of the IPC. 

“It is reasonable that when the courts in India recognize dissolution of marriage (by pronouncing the word talaq three times) under Mohammedan law which is the personal law of Muslims, the courts should also recognize for the purpose of dissolution of marriage Canon Law as the personal law of Indian Catholics,” the petition said. 

Canon Law says that Catholics are required to marry in a Catholic church and enjoins that they seek nullity of marriage in the canonical court also under the code of canon law. Otherwise, the marriage and the dissolution are not recognized by the Catholic church. 

“If criminal courts, while considering prosecution under Section 494 IPC, reject the application of Canon Law as the personal law of Catholics, a very serious result will follow and hundreds of spouses under the second marriage will have to face prosecution, jail and fine,” the petitioner said.

Source: The Times of India