Divorce granted by church court can't override law, says Supreme Court

Soli Sorabjee had contended that when oral 'triple talaq' could get legal sanctity for granting the divorce to Muslim couples, why could Canon law decrees not be made binding on courts of law.

Divorce granted by church court can

While hearing a PIL which sought legal sanction to separations granted by the church courts, supreme court reacted that divorce granted by the ecclesiastical tribunal under Christian personal law are not valid as it cannot override the law.

A bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud dismissed the plea filed by Clarence Pais, a former president of a Karnataka Catholic association, saying the issue has been settled by it in its 1996 verdict delivered in the case of Molly Joseph versus George Sebastian.


"Canon Law (personal law of Christians) can have theological or ecclesiastical implications to the parties. But after the Divorce Act came into force, a dissolution or annulment granted under such personal law cannot have any legal impact as the statute has provided a different procedure and a different code for divorce or annulment," the apex court had then ruled.

Pais had filed PIL in 2013, and said the divorce granted by a Church, set up under its personal law, should be considered valid under the Indian common law as was done in the case of Muslims with regard to 'triple talaq'.

Former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee who has appeared for Pais had contended that when oral 'triple talaq' could get legal sanctity for granting the divorce to Muslim couples, why could Canon law decrees not be made binding on courts of law.

He had alleged that many Catholic Christians, who married after getting the divorce from Christian courts, faced criminal charges of bigamy as such divorces are not recognised by the criminal and civil courts.