Court orders framing rules to issue divorce certificate to non-Muslims

Lahore: Lahore High Court (LHC) on Wednesday directed the Punjab government to frame rules within 90 days for issuing divorce certificates to Christians and other non-Muslims in Pakistan. Justice Tariq Saleem issued the seven-page verdict on Shumaila Sharif’s plea seeking issuance of an identity card in her father’s name to a non-Muslim woman after divorce.

The promulgation of rules is necessary under the Punjab Local Government Act, the ruling said, adding that Christians have been making complaints of non-issuance of certificates of union councils. The court was told that the Union Council does not issue divorce certificates to non-Muslims and Nadra is not changing her ID card without a divorce certificate from the union council.

Directing the petitioner to approach Nadra again, the court directed until the rules are made, Nadra should provide facilities under the registration policy. Reportedly, the petition was heard on December 16 last year. During the proceedings, the counsel of the petitioner, Advocate Umar Saeed, said that the issue was faced by several people in the Christian community and was not a one-off incident.

The additional advocate general has little to defend the respondents and said that the provincial government was taking steps to address the complaints of the Christian community regarding the non-issuance of divorce certificates. The verdict stated during the proceedings, it was brought to the court’s attention that NADRA’s Registration Policy dated 06.04.2021 (Version 5.0.2) allowed a change of marital status of a divorcee on the basis of an affidavit in the prescribed form.

“In light of this, the court directed that until the provincial government framed the requisite rules needed for the issuance of the divorce certificate by the union council, NADRA shall accommodate the Christian community in accordance with the Registration Policy 19.”