Report No. 15
Coming next to divorce, the Roman Catholics have strongly pressed on us that divorce should not be recognised, as it is opposed to their faith, or, in the alternative, that they should be exempted from the provisions of this Act in so far as they relate to divorce. They say, basing themselves on the passage in the Bible, "what therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder", that, it is a fundamental article of the Christian faith that marriage is indissoluble; that the Canonical law therefore does not recognise divorce; that the grant of divorce would be repugnant to it; and that therefore the provisions relating to divorce should not apply to them.
But it should be noted that the Indian Divorce Act, 1869, applies to all Christians including Roman Catholics, and has been in operation for now ninety years without any protest. It will be too late now to reverse the current and exempt Roman Catholics from the provision for divorce. It should, moreover, be remembered that the provisions of the proposed Act are merely enabling in character. They do not compel any Roman Catholic to go against the Canonical law. He or she can, consistently with it, apply for judicial separation and not divorce.
If notwithstanding that the Divorce Act, 1869, has provided for divorce, the Roman Catholic Christians have been in a position, during all these years, to conform to Canonical principles, in not resorting to court for divorce, they are free to do so under the proposed Act as well. The proposed Act introduces no change in the existing law. For these reasons, we have provided that the Act should apply to all Christians, Roman Catholics as well as Protestants.