This is apropos the news story “Judicial review: Christian divorce law is insulting to women” published on February 28. The story revealed that the Christian Divorce Act of 1869 had been challenged before the honourable Lahore High Court. As an advocate, I am pleading the case on behalf of the petitioner, Amin Masih. In light of the case, it is really perplexing to see that the legislature has not given any attention to minorities’ rights, though the Article 2A of the Constitution guarantees freedom to the minorities to freely practice their religion and culture.

The contents of the Christian Divorce Act have been challenged, in particular in Section 10 of the Act. It states that in order to divorce a Christian female, a Christian male has to impute the charge of adultery against her and then prove it before divorcing her. Otherwise, there are no other grounds on which a Christian male can divorce his wife. This is a blatant violation of human rights as in other states, where Christians are in majority, a Christian male can divorce his wife on just and reasonable grounds and often even through mutual consent. However, in Pakistan, there is only one ground, which is adultery.

In addition, Section 77 of the Act states that the changes occurring from time to time to the Matrimonial Causes Act in England will be taken into consideration while updating the law. The Matrimonial Causes Act in England allows a Christian couple to seek divorce on just and reasonable grounds rather than proving a charge of adultery. It is unfortunate that the legislature in Pakistan has not paid attention to the rights of Christians. It has not incorporated amendments to the Christian Divorce Act of 1869, which entitle Christians to file for a divorce suit either through mutual consent or on just and reasonable grounds.

Therefore, there is need for a keen judicial review that can oversee the nullification of these outdated laws based on anachronistic notions so that every Christian male and female can live a life of honour and dignity.


Lahore, April 29.