Now, Christian spouses in Karnataka need to live separately only for a year, instead of the existing two-year period, for seeking dissolution of marriage by mutual consent.
The Karnataka High Court on Monday declared that a judgment of the Kerala High Court — which in 2010 declared as unconstitutional the imposition of two-year separation period for divorce by mutual consent under Divorce Act, 1869 — is applicable to Karnataka also.
A Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice D.H. Waghela and Justice B.V. Nagarathna, said the verdict of the Kerala High Court had become the law for the entire country, as the judgment was not challenged in the Supreme Court by the Union government, which was a respondent before Kerala High Court.
The Bench passed the order while disposing of a public interest litigation (PIL) petition, filed by Shiv Kumar, an advocate and master trainer at the Bangalore Mediation Centre, which had challenged the validity of Section 10A of the Act that prescribes two-year period prior to filling of petition for divorce by Christians.
Other divorce laws
The petitioner pointed out that spouses should have lived separately only for a year if they had to file a petition for divorce by mutual consent under Section 28 of the Special Marriages Act, 1954, Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act 1955, and Section 32B of the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936.
The petitioner, citing Kerala High Court’s verdict, had contended that Section 10A was discriminatory as it imposed two-year separation period unlike other religions.
The Roman Catholic Church (RCC) had stated that as marriage was not considered in the same light by different communities in India and the “RCC’s firm conviction is that marriage is a ‘Sacrament,’ it would stand to reason that given sufficiently long time, the [Christian] spouses stand better chance of sorting out their differences and bring about settlement…”