The Supreme Court has ruled that Canon law and decrees of divorce given by ecclesiastical tribunals or ‘Church Courts’ cannot veto the statutory law of divorce.
Ruling in this regard was given by SC Bench of Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud on writ petition filed in 2013 seeking a judicial declaration that divorce decrees passed by ecclesiastical tribunals are valid and binding.
- Referring to SC 1996 judgment in the case of Molly Joseph versus George Sebastian, SC held that binding nature of the Indian Divorce Act, 1869 governs divorce among Christians.
- After Divorce Act, 1860 came into force, dissolution or annulment under Christian personal law cannot have any legal impact as statute has provided a different procedure and a different code for divorce.
Thus, SC order grants supremacy to parliamentary laws over personal laws of religious groups. It can be held that divorce decrees of religious institutions can’t override law enacted by the state.
1996 judgment: In Molly case (1996), SC had held that implication of the Canon law is confined to either theological or ecclesiastical and has no legal impact on the divorce of marriage between two persons professing Christian religion.