Thursday, 30 March 2017

SUPREME COURT V/S ECCLESIASTICAL TRIBUNAL – CATHOLIC DIVORCE LAW

SUPREME COURT VS ECCLESIASTICAL TRIBUNAL  –  CATHOLIC  DIVORCE LAW

The  following  paragraphs  are  my opinion on  the  latest  Supreme  Court  of  India decision  on  the  divorce law  relating  to the  Catholic  Christians  in  India  as published  in  the  LIGHT  OF  TRUTH  in  its 16-31 March  2017  issue.  In  fact  there  is no  provision  for  Catholics  for  a  divorce in  the  Canon  Law.  This  is the  basic reason  for  the  start  of  the  Protestant ‘Church  of  England’  (its  Indian  version  - CNI  and  CSI) who  protested  against  this and  introduced  divorce.  

This  is  in response  to  the  article  ‘CIVIL LAW  AND CANON  LAW’  in  this publication  dated 16-022017.  As mentioned  by  the  author,  I am  fully  agreeable  with  his  statement that  the  quality  of  today’s journalism  is very  poor  particularly  in  this  case  where it  is  stated  that  the  Supreme  Court decided  that a  “divorce”  granted  by  an Ecclesiastical  Tribunal  is  not  valid  in  the eyes  of  the  Civil  Law.

In  the  instant case (CLARENCE  PAIS  VS.  UNION  OF  INDIA  & ORS.)  decided  on  19-01-2017,  the Supreme Court  simply  dismissed  the  Writ  Petition quoting  a  Kerala  High  Court  Judgement of  three members  bench  headed  by Justice  K.T.THOMAS  and  its  confirmation by  the  supreme  court  in  Molly Joseph alias  Nish  Vs.  George  Sebastian  alias  Joy [(1996)  6  SCC  337].  To  quote  SC’s  own words  for clarity,   “The  solitary  prayer made  by  the  petitioner  through  the instant  writ  petition  is  as  under:

“a) Issue a  writ  in  the  nature  of Mandamus/Certiorary  and  thereby  grant declaration  that  the  Code  of Common Law is  the  Personal  Law  of  the  Indian Christians  and  has  to  be  recognized  as such  by  the Courts  (Civil  and  Criminal) in India  and  which  would  supersede  any other  law  in  conflict  thereto  and other accordingly.  …………..  In  view  of  the decision  rendered  by  this  Court,  as  has been  extracted hereinabove,  we  are  of the  view,  that  the  instant  writ  petition is wholly  devoid  of  merit  and  is  liable  to be  dismissed.”  It  was  also  mentioned  in the  record  of  proceedings  that  the advocate  of  the  Petitioner was  absent during  the  hearing.  There  is  nothing else in  the  judgement  as  blown  out  by  the press.

However,  in  my  opinion,  the original  Kerala  High  Court  case  as  well as  in  the  instant  case,  the  issue was  not properly  handled  by  the  parties  in  the right  direction  by  challenging  the constitutional  validity of  the  existing  laws made  during  the  British  Raj  matching  to the  laws  of  the  Church  of  England (counter  part  of  the  CNI/CSI),  as distinguished  from  the  Canon  laws  and personal  local  laws applicable  to  the Indian  Catholics  and  particularly  Malabar Christians  who  were  in  existence  in India since  A.D.52,  even  before  the  Canon  Law was  brought  to  India  by  the  Portuguese after  A.D.  1500.

In  this  regard,  my  view on  a  similar  issue  published  in  this publication  dated  01-12-2009  under  the caption,  ‘CHURCH  PROPERTY:  CANON LAWS V/S CIVIL LAWS’ may also  be referred  to.

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