The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to expedite hearing on a PIL to examine the issue of whether divorce granted by a Church, set up under its personal law, could be considered valid under the Indian common law.
A bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justice D Y Chandrachud allowed an interim application moved for early hearing in the case after former Attorney General and senior advocate Soli Sorabjee, appearing for petitioner Clarence Pais, sought an urgent hearing.
"The application for early hearing is allowed. Hearing of the appeal is expedited," the bench said.
Pais, an ex-president of a Catholic association in Karnataka, said when oral 'triple talaq' could get legal sanctity for granting 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 divorce from Christian courts, faced criminal charges of bigamy as such divorces are not recognised by the criminal and civil courts in New Delhi.
"It is reasonable that when the courts in India recognize dissolution of marriage (by pronouncing the word talaq three times) under Mohammedan Law which is personal law of the Muslims, the courts should also recognise for the purpose of dissolution of marriage Canon Law as the personal law of the Indian Catholics," the plea had contended.
The plea had contended that Canon Law is the personal law of the Catholics in the country and has to be applied and enforced by a criminal court while deciding a case under section 494 (bigamy) of the IPC.
"This is also applicable for sanction of prosecution considered for alleged bigamy of a Catholic spouse who has married after obtaining a decree for nullity of the first marriage from the Ecclesiastical Tribunal (Christian court)," it said.
The Centre, however, had opposed the plea saying Canon law could not be allowed to override Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872 and Divorce Act, 1869.
"Since the power for dissolution of marriage has been vested in the court, there is no scope for any other authority including ecclesiastical tribunal to exercise power," the government had said.