Religion Current Affairs
Gujarat Government has granted religious minority status to Jews living in the state. In this regard, State’s Department of Social Justice and Empowerment has issued GR to this effect. Gujarat is third state in India to grant religious minority status to Jews after West Bengal and Maharashtra.
As religious minority members professing faith of Judaism, Jews in the states will get religious minority rights envisaged in Constitution of India and various acts and rules of the state government. They will also get benefits of welfare schemes formulated for religious minority communities within the jurisdiction of Gujarat.
Gujarat has small Jewish community with no more than 170 members and majority of them located in Ahmedabad. Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, during his official visit to Israel in June 2018, had announced that his government was in the process of granting religious minority status to the community. Gujarat also had hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his six-day India visit in January 2018.
Judaism is one of the oldest religions of the world, evolved in Egypt about 3,700 years ago. It believes in the unity and oneness of universal Creator. Judaism is the religion, philosophy and way of life of the Jewish people. Jews have been living in India for over 2,000 years ever since they first landed on West coast of India. Indian Jews are known as a peace-loving community. They follow Hebrew calendar. They have special thanks giving ceremony known as Eliyahoo-ha-Nabior i.e. ‘gratitude to Elijah the Prophet’, on festive occasions.
Indian Jews fall into five categories
Bene Israel – meaning Children of Israel. Marathi speaking. Arrived in Maharashtra 2,100 years ago.
Cochin Jews – arrived in India 2,500 years ago and settled down in Kerala as traders.
Baghdadi Jews – Jews who came to India as traders from West Asia, mainly from Baghdad. They are settled mainly in Mumbai, Pune and Kolkata.
Bene Menashe – The Manipur Jews constitute a community which sees itself as descendants of the Manasseh (Menashe) Tribe (which is one of the 10 lost tribes of Jews).
Bene Ephraim – also called “Telugu Jews”. They are a small group who speak Telugu. Their observance of Judaism dates to 1981.
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.