Wedding Blues: A Case of Law of the Land vs that of the Church

The Catholic Church in Kerala is facing yet another test with the authority of Diocesan Tribunals being challenged before the law of the land.

Published: 15th March 2016 03:45 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th March 2016 04:31 AM   |  A+A-

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM/KOCHI: The Catholic Church in Kerala is facing yet another test with the authority of Diocesan Tribunals being challenged before the law of the land. Ruffling the Church’s feathers, Dr Cherian Job, a native of Thiruvananthapuram, has approached the High Court alleging that the Church’s parallel adjudication machinery is ‘improper and illegal’.

Cherian, a member of the Syro Malabar Church, approached the HC after the Church Tribunal issued a decree nullifying his son’s marriage while a divorce petition was pending before the family court. Cherian said marital relationship could be dealt with or adjudicated only by civil court as per the law of the land.

“Bypassing the law of land is like ignoring Reserve Bank of India and printing one’s own currency notes. Illegal declaration on the personal status of individuals by religious institutions cause anarchy and is also an abusive procedure,” Cherian said.

“The effect of the so-called decree by the  Church Tribunal amounts to labelling my son as a divorcee in front of the Christian community and a married person in front of others,”  Cherian said. Catholics, whose marriages have been annulled by a Church Tribunal but not a civil court, face the risk of being prosecuted for bigamy under the IPC if they remarry in church. Besides, without a civil annulment or divorce, the children from a second marriage would be considered illegitimate and the spouse could face criminal charges. Even the priest who solemnises second marriage can be prosecuted for abetment. 

story behind the legal Wrangle

T’Puram: The marriage of Dr Cherian Job’s son Joby Cherian and Dhanu Joby, who were married in 2003, hit the rocks in 2013. While Dhanu filed for divorce in the family court, her family went a step ahead and took the matter to the Changanassery Diocese of the Syro Malabar Church.  Even as the legal battle was going on, the church passed a “decree” early this year,  “nullifying” the marriage. They have two children, aged 12 and 11.


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