Breaking Views: SC’s Verdict on Adultery Is Worth Saluting

India's Supreme Court rules adultery not a crime any more

"It's time to say that (a) husband is not the master of (his) wife", Chief Justice Dipak Misra, read out from the judgment.

Under Section 497 of IPC, a married man could be punished for having sex with the wife of another man but the act would be exempt from punishment if it was done with the consent of the woman's husband.

But in one case in 2015, a 50-year-old policeman was jailed after he was caught in bed with the wife of another man. The Chief Justice while delivering the verdict said that adultery might not be the cause of an unhappy marriage; it could be the result of one.

Also read: India's lopsided adultery law - Adverse impact of patriarchy on men or women?

In our intervention application before the Court, we relied upon different grounds to suggest why this section should be made gender-neutral.

It creates an offence against men only, rendering a right to prosecute by the woman null and void.

Women have been considered superior to men in India, Uma Bharti said.

The Supreme Court today declared that adultery is no longer a crime.

India's Supreme Court rules adultery not a crime any more
Adultery no longer a crime- Supreme Court - Tamil Movie News

Kavita Krishnan, Secretary, All India Progressive Women's Association (AIPWA) and a CPI (ML) Polit Bureau member said decriminalising adultery is welcome and was long overdue.

While Article 21 addresses the right of an individual to their own personal liberty, Article 14 talks about equality before the law, that is, equal protection for all within the country.

"We welcome the judgement by the SC striking down the 158yr old law based on Victorian values, in Sec 497 of Penal code, which treats women as property of husbands & criminalises adultery". "It shouldn't be a criminal offence, other people are also involved in it", Misra said, reading out the judgement, also on behalf of Justice A.M. Khanwilkar.

A petitioner, an Indian businessman, had challenged the court to strike down the law, describing it as arbitrary and discriminatory against women. "They can not defend themselves and the stigma the prosecution casts on them will last forever and that in itself is a punishment as far as the women are concerned".

However, India's ruling BJP government had opposed the petition, insisting that adultery should remain a criminal offence. However, the Centre, in an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court in July, in response to Shine's petition, said that Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code was enacted to safeguard the sanctity of marriage and diluting it would be detrimental to matrimonial bond.

From now on, the only remedy available to a man or woman who finds his partner to be in an adulterous relationship would be to go for divorce.

Justice D.Y. Chandrachud held that a married woman can make her own sexual choices.

Senior Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan termed the verdict a fine judgement.

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