LAHORE - Lahore High Court on Friday asked Bishop of Lahore to assist the court in a petition challenging the Christian Divorce Act 1869 for being offensive to women.

While hearing the case on Friday, Justice Mazhar Iqbal Sidhu also appointed two advocates as ameicus curie (friends of court) and adjourned further proceedings till February 16.

Federal Law Ministry also submitted a reply in the court saying that after the 18th amendment, provinces got the authority to amend the laws. The ministry also told the court that there were certain provisions under which a Christian woman could be divorced.

Ameen Masih, the petitioner, had filed the petition challenging Christian Marriage Act, 1969. In his petition, the petitioner said that he was not happy with his wife for the past two years and wanted to marry other woman. But unfortunately, he could not marry unless he blamed his previous wife of adultery under the said Act which was against the dignity and respect of a woman.

Christian Divorce Act 1869, which exists since colonial period, bounds Christian men to divorce his wife only on one ground and that is an allegation of adultery.

Ameen’s counsel submitted that even in countries like America and England a Christian man could file a divorce even on the ground of unreasonable behavior which enabled divorce petitions to be dealt in an expeditious manner.

“Unfortunately, filing a divorce before the courts in our country on behalf of Christian husband on the ground of adultery has made the lives of both male and female deplorable. This is immutable which results in tarnishing image of female in society,” he added.

He also submitted that the only provision of divorce abridged fundamental rights of Christians and even the objectives resolution in the Constitution empowered that the rights of minorities would be protected. He argued that section 10 of the impugned act was ultra vires (beyond the powers) and in contravention of the constitution by exercise of judicial review.

He prayed to the court to declare section 10 of Christian Divorce Act 1869 contrary to the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973.