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‘Divine laws can’t be changed for rights’

By our correspondents
January 21, 2017

Christian Divorce Act case


Lahore High Court Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah has reserved verdict in a case demanding amendment to section 10 of Christian Divorce Act, 1869.

Federal Minister for Human Rights Senator Kamran Michael on Friday told the Lahore High Court that divine laws could not be changed in the name of fundamental rights.

The minister joined by Christian scholars appeared before the court to present view of his community to a petition demanding amendment to section 10 of Christian Divorce Act, 1869.

Kamran Michael recited relevant verses from the Bible and said the heavenly laws could not be altered. He said changing the divine law in the name of fundamental rights would be a violation of religious principles. He said the Bible clearly described the procedure for divorce of a Christian couple.

The minister said the opinion, he gave in the court, was developed after proper consultation with church leaders and scholars.

The chief justice observed that the court was not supposed to interpret Bible or the Old Testament but to implement the Constitution, which says “Right to practice religion is available to every citizen based on his conscience.”

Punjab Minister for Minority Affairs Tahir Khalil Sindhu also supported the views presented by the federal minister. Bishops from different sects were also present in the court. However, PML-N MPA Mary Gill said the Divorce Act was discriminatory in nature as the Constitution provided equal rights to men and women. She said Christian women were forced to quit Christianity due to the divorce law.

Earlier, petitioner’s counsel Sheraz Zaka argued that section 10 of Divorce Act 1869, provided only one ground to a man to divorce his wife and that is imputing the charge of adultery as well as to prove it. He said the ground for the dissolution of marriage was against the dignity of a woman. The lawyer said in Christian majority countries, the law had been amended and there were other logical grounds available for a Christian couple to seek separation.

After hearing the opinion of the Christian representatives, the chief justice reserved verdict in the case.

Talking to reporters, Senator Kamran Michael said man-made laws could be changed but not the divine ones. He said laws of European countries could not be enforced in Pakistan.

ECP: The Lahore High Court on Friday issued notice to Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on a petition challenging eligibility of Federal Minister Ahsan Iqbal’s son who was elected unopposed as chairman District Council Narowal.

Petitioner’s counsel Barrister Adeel told the court that vote of Ahmad Iqbal, the chairman, was shifted to an urban area from rural after issuance of the election schedule. He said shifting of vote after the issuance of the schedule was a clear violation of election laws. He asked the court to disqualify the respondent to hold the office of the chairman.

Justice Shahid Waheed adjourned hearing for three weeks and sought a reply from the ECP.

plea rejected: The Lahore High Court on Friday dismissed petition of a doctor suspended on charges of showing negligence during work at Jinnah Hospital where a female patient died on the floor for not providing timely treatment.

As the court took up the petition, an assistant advocate general argued that Prof Dr Zafar Iqbal, the petitioner, was suspended under Punjab Employees Efficiency, Discipline and Accountability Act of 2006.