The Union Law Ministry on Friday cleared a proposal to amend a 147-year-old divorce law to halve the separation period for Christian couples seeking to file for divorce by mutual consent.
The ministry has decided to cut down the waiting period from two years to one year in cases of divorce by mutual consent of Christian couples. The move comes against the backdrop of a Supreme Court ruling and demands by the community.
In May this year, in a written reply in Lok Sabha, Law Minister D.V. Sada-nanda Gowda had said that the government is planning to amend Section 10 A of the 1869 law to reduce the minimum mandatory period of separation from two years to one year to bring uniformity with other personal laws.
The separation period under Hindu Marriage Act, Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act and the Special Marriage Act is one year. Section 10A(1) of the Divorce Act, added through an amendment in 2001, says that a couple seeking divorce should be living separately for a period of “two years or more”.
Against the backdrop of the Supreme Court order delivered in April last and demands by members of the community, the Law Ministry has cleared the proposal to reduce the separation period.
Questioning the existing law, the Supreme Court had urged the Centre to make necessary amendments. “Should Christians stay separated for minimum two years when the period prescribed for others is one year? It does not make sense to us. It is a pure question of law and you (government) should have acted on your own,” a bench of Justices Vikramjit Sen and A.M. Sapre had observed.
(With PTI inputs)