The Central on Wednesday presented an affidavit with its take over the issue of adultery law in India to the five-judge constitution bench hearing petitions challenging Section 497 of the IPC. The Centre said adultery should continue as a penal offence as it is a threat to the institution of marriage.

What Does the Law Say?

As per the Indian law, a woman cannot be punished for the offence of adultery. Only a man who has consensual sexual intercourse with the wife of another man without his consent can be punished under this offence.

According to Section 497 of IPC, “Whoever has sexual intercourse with a person who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the wife of another man, without the consent or connivance of that man, such sexual intercourse not amounting to the offense of rape, is guilty of the offense of adultery, and shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine, or with both. In such case the wife shall not be punishable as an abettor.’’

The law which has become a debatable topic in the recent times was introduced by the British, hence, making it almost a 157-year-old law.

What the Bench has to say?

The Bench consisting of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justices R F Nariman, A. M Khanwilkar, D. Y. Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, however, has reserved its verdict on pleas challenging the constitutional validity of the law on adultery.

The honourable court asked the centre, “what collective public good” has been served to people through this law.

“What is the sanctity of marriage here. If the consent of husband is taken then there is no adultery,” the bench said.

Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand presented the stand taken by The Centre. “Adultery is an action willingly and knowingly done with the knowledge that it would hurt the spouse, the children and the family. Such intentional action which impinges on the sanctity of marriage and sexual fidelity encompassed in marriage, which forms the backbone of the Indian society, has been classified and defined by the Indian State as a criminal offence in exercise of its constitutional powers,” she said.

The Bench also said, “the husbands have been given a dominant position (in the law)” NDTV reported.

(Pic by Zee News)

Also Read- #WomenRights: Laws Every Indian Woman Should Know

Dolly Bhardwaj is an intern with SheThePeople.TV

Get the best of SheThePeople delivered to your inbox - subscribe to Our Power Breakfast Newsletter. Follow us on Twitter , Instagram , Facebook and on YouTube, and stay in the know of women who are standing up, speaking out, and leading change.