The Supreme Court (SC) on 9 February 2015 stressed that religious decrees cannot override the written code of law. SC voiced concern over the future of secularism in the country.
Justice Vikramjit Sen was hearing the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Clarence Pais. The PIL asked the Bench to put its law of stamp on the decrees of divorce and other such decrees issued by an ecclesiastical court or tribunal. An ecclesiastical court, set up under the Canon Law, is an institution for Catholic Christians.
The Bench expressed anxiety over the challenges faced by secularism in the country. The PIL, seeking a declaration that the Canon Law is the personal law of Indian Christians, also questioned the jurisdiction of criminal courts to prosecute Roman Catholics under Section 494 of the Indian Penal Code for bigamy without considering the Canon Law.
However, the bench retorted, this cannot be accepted otherwise every religion will say it has a right to decide various issues as a matter of its personal law.
Petitioner Clarence Pais urged the Supreme Court Bench to consider this important question of law and religious freedom, claiming it impacted over one crore Indian Christians on marriage and its dissolution.
During the hearing, the court referred to honour killing as an example of the dangers that may ensue if religious or self-styled socio-political institutions were given legal backing.
When: 9 February 2015