Consultative Session held on Christian Marriage and Divorce Laws Amendments in Act 1872 and 1869
Press release for consultative meeting on Christian Marriage and Divorce laws amendments in Act 1872 and 1869 in Lahore on 4th April 2017
A national consultation of religious leaders of Christian community was held on Tuesday in Lahore to discuss Christian Marriage and divorce Acts. Senator Kamran Michael, Minster for Human Rights stated that the Government is aware of the need for greater protection and promotion of minority rights whether it is legislation, education, health, nutrition or violence against them. He informed thatChristian Family matters among the Christian community are dealt with by the Christian Marriages Act of 1872 and the Divorce Act of 1862. Since both the Acts are centuries old and need to be reviewed as certain provisions became outdated; they smack of colonial rule. He further stated that the Ministry of Human Rights obtained a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony to act as an administrative Ministry for enactment of these laws. He further elaborated that to facilitate Christian community all over Pakistan, Ministry of human rights has obtained Resolutions from Provincial Governments of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan to regulate matter pertaining to Christian Marriage and divorce. He also referred first national consultation held in Islamabad in august wherein the same bills were thoroughly examined.
Mr. Sharafat Ali Chaudhry, Legal consultant, ministry of human rights presented the Bill and stated that in these drafts, it has been proposed that the registration of marriage will be responsibility of the State and solemnization will be done by the Church. Age of marriage both for male and female has been proposed to be 18 years, he further informed. Under the present applicable law of Christian Divorce Act 1862, there is only one ground of divorce available which is raising allegations against the chastity of the spouse, however, in the proposed draft, other grounds of the divorce have been proposed for the parties. Legal Consultant pointed out difference of opinion among different Christian religious communities. A detail discussion was held and it was proposed that more consultations are needed to have a unified legislation. It was also proposed that Representatives of NADRA may also be invited during next consultations as registration of marriages is responsibility of NADRA and Christian community is facing problem in getting marriage certificates.
A detailed discussion was also held to discuss amendments in divorce. It was informed that there has been a bill in the national assembly related to health issues wherein amendment has also been proposed in the Christian Bills. Legal consultant elaborated ground for divorce and raised the issue that mental and physical illness as well as cruelty shall be included in the grounds for divorce. Numbers of ground were proposed by the participants in view of current changed social, economic and cultural situations.
Senator Kamran Micheal stated that the law is for Christian community and all denomination shall unanimously approve it. He was of the view that there shall not be amendments which are in contradiction to the Bible, however, clergy may like to consider different options and grounds for divorce. He further stated that next consultation will be held in Islamabad during next month wherein the amendment proposed during current meeting will be discussed.