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Criminal Act Of Adultery Overturned In India

28 September 2018

The rights group Amnesty International India said the decision was "a progressive judgment" and the old law was a "remnant of a time when a woman was considered to be the property of her husband".

Any discrimination shall invite the wrath of the Constitution, the Chief Justice said.

. Besides, there is no data to back claims that abolition of adultery as a crime would result in "chaos in sexual morality" or an increase of divorce. Subordination of any sex over the other is clearly unconstitutional, the CJI reiterated.

"He shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine or with both". "Totally disagree with the Supreme Court judgement on adultery".

Assailing the adultery law on the grounds that it violated the sexual autonomy of a woman, justice DY Chandrachud in his judgment said, "Section 497 is destructive of and deprives a woman of her agency, autonomy and dignity".

The top court, which has this year delivered a spate of landmark verdicts, said that adultery dents individuality of women and that women can not be asked to think and do according to the will of the society.

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Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, who read out the judgment on behalf of himself and Justice Khanwilkar, said: "It's time to say the husband is not the master".

Essentially, this meant that provided the husband's okay with it, a woman can be subjected to someone else's desire regardless of her own consent.

It also said that adultery, while valid grounds for divorce, was a private matter. Over the years, more than 60 countries have done away with laws that made adultery a crime.

Government lawyers argued that adultery should remain a crime as it threatens the institution of marriage, and caused harm to children and families.

However, doubting the object of Section 497 to safeguard the sanctity of marriage, Chandrachud had said: "Fidelity does not apply to a married man if he engages in extra-marital sex with a single woman?"

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"Married women are not a special case for the goal of prosecution for adultery". It states that a woman, by marriage, "consents in advance to sexual relations with her husband or to refrain from sexual relations outside marriage without the permission of her husband is offensive to liberty and dignity" - such a notion has "no place in the constitutional order".

India's Supreme Court has ruled a century-old adultery law is unconstitutional and discriminatory against women.

Section 497 gives a husband the exclusive right to prosecute his wife's lover while a similar right is not conferred on a wife to prosecute the woman with whom her husband has committed adultery.

"Adultery as visualised in the Indian Penal Code, namely ... by the section concerned is no longer an offence", he said. He said Section 497 is held to be unconstitutional as adultery is manifestly arbitrary. Modi advocated amending the law to make it gender-neutral, while maintaining adultery as a criminal offense.

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Criminal Act Of Adultery Overturned In India