Adultery is no Longer a Criminal Offence - Seeker's Thoughts

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Thursday, 27 September 2018

Adultery is no Longer a Criminal Offence

Adultery
Introduction- Section 497 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) contains provisions of the adultery laws. The Section 497 of IPC says that any man who has sexual intercourse with the wife of another man, without the consent of her husband, shall be held liable for the crime of adultery.

Social Narrative- According to society, adultery is extramarital sex that is considered as a heinous crime on social, religious, and moral grounds.

Supreme Court, the government and the Law- The Apex court asked from the central government about this adultery law. The court has said that what is the collective good in making adultery a punishable offence?
The government’s response was regressive as it has supported article 497 because it “Supports, safeguards, and protects the institution of marriage”. As in India, the court is the keeper of the law but can not create the law. The law is made by the parliament, it is necessary to understand that when politics is regressive, the law will also be regressive.
Law commission's 42nd Report also favored to reduce
 the punishment but law should be in IPC
The basic structure of Indian constitution supports individuality over the society as in the name of collectivism there have been practices which have suffocated/killed and tortured individuals. 

The progressive step has been taken by the Supreme Court of India, where Adultery is no longer crime, and law is declared as unconstitutional. 

The dimensions which made the Law Obsolete-

1-      Only man is punished while woman is not punished, while constitution gives right to equality. In this case, the man is deprived of equality which is a direct violation of fundamental rights under 'Right to equality'.

2-      The woman is treated as a victim of man’s seduction. However, what if there is consent between both adults. If the woman is not a victim, what are the laws to deal with it?

3-     There are various issues involved like privacy, gender discrimination, assumption of morality, and motivated stakes that both state and society have in the institution of marriage itself.

4-   Woman is also treated like a commodity, as the sexual intercourse will not be a crime if husband of the wife has given his consent. That means if husband allows, other man will not be considered as a rapist.  

5-      Another dimension is – marriage and sexual relations between two consenting adults, it is a matter which should not have legal punishments.  The law should be only to resort dissolution of the marriage legally to ensure that neither side suffers discrimination in the process.

6-      The section also disregards women’s sexual choice and her decisions as an adult.

Conclusion- The state government can not impose the sanctity of marriage and decide what is good for women on their behalf. Women, biologically are grown up individuals, and have right to decide for themselves as this section clearly keep them under other’s permission to have sex. 
At the same time benevolent patriarchal mindset where women are always treated as a victim of men’s seduction hampers the rights of both men, and women.
The ruling government should avoid acting like a society, and take people forward in progressive world without being scared about sanctity of marriage. Marriage is an agreement or a social contract between two equal individuals. The state should abstain from interfering into such issues. 

However, thankfully the apex court considered that the law has been harming women more than protecting her dignity as an individual. It was against fundamental rights of individuals so the progressive step has been taken by the Supreme Court of India, where Adultery is no longer crime, and law is declared as unconstitutional.