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Adultery - Decriminalization of Section 497 of IPC A Way Towards Legalism Prostitution

Adultery means sexual relationship of a married person other than with spouse. In modern times, most of the countries opted out to decriminalize adultery but from ancient times, adultery was a sinful act almost in every religion. In India, the offence of adultery was punishable under Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, and entailed a maximum punishment of five years, or with fine or both. Sec. 497 states, 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 offence of rape, is guilty of the offence 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.

Neither all the men are wrong, nor all the women are right. Women cannot be abettors, is not true in all the cases. Modification in the law was very essential, to serve the purpose of Right to Equality. But decriminalizing section 497 of IPC is having more loopholes than the earlier law. Its anti-woman and anti-human. If we allow men to do anything of their choice, there wont be any difference between men and animal, in other words, its an adoption of animal law. Institution of marriage is meaningless. Foundation of the marriage is loyalty and section 497 was preservative of the marriage. In absence of the above law marriage will suffer a lot. The only difference between ox and bull is of a one mitre tiny rope. Its only the rope which makes an ox silent in nature and potential for society and in absence of which a bull becomes violent and vagrant. Section 497 was playing the role of invisible rope for both men and women.

Section 497 was neither fit for man nor for woman. For men it had an infringement of Rights but in the case of women it was even worst. How could consent and connivance of a man matters to have sexual intercourse with the wife. Its demoralizing women and her dignity. It clearly dealt with the perception of husband as a master of women and house and wife as a speechless animal. Someone who has the consent and connivance of her husband, before having sex with her, would not amount the charge of adultery. Modification in this law was a much-needed step to make it more valid and effective. PIL seeking modification in 157 years old law of adultery was a perfect move to modify such a discriminatory law. For the same amount of an offence if man is punishable, woman should also get punished in the similar way. Otherwise, Right to Equality which is guaranteed by constitution, carries no importance. There should not be any discrimination in the amount of the charges based on gender. But scrapping the law is the worst and shocking judgement. A five judges bench has shaken the beliefs of those who believes in of marriage and loyalty. Sanctity of marriage has been devastated. Section 497 has been referred to old and outdated law. Laws can be outdated but morality and loyalty can never become outdated and decriminalizing adultery is approval of immorality and treachery.

As quoted by former CJI Dipak Mishra-
If any aggrieved spouse committed suicide because of a life partners adulterous relation and evidence is produced, it could be treated as abetment to suicide;

When one partner is involved in such a heinous act of adultery, the other partner dies every moment. But in the eyes of law such death and mental distortion is carrying lesser value rather than the personal choice of one spouse to have sexual relationship with the person of his choice. Law should be strict enough to mitigate the offences and it should be life saver. One person who is going through all the mental trauma because of an illicit affair of the spouse, cant get justice while alive but the same can be gained after death. What is the use of such a law which cannot protect the life of a person.

Whether ancient or modern, throughout all the era the adultery was continued but it had always been disapproved, condemned and criticized by the civilized part of the society and had never been legalised. It was a sinful act, and person committing it, was liable to a lot of social disgrace. Till now adultery was covered under grey shed but Supreme Courts verdict has turned that grey shed into white. Such law will lead us towards uncivilization. It took hundreds of years for women to become empowered and independent. Various existed laws played an important role in women empowerment. They are living their life with dignity and independently. They are for away from below excerpts of Manu smriti-

Her father protects her in childhood, her husband protects her in youth, and her sons protect her in old age; a woman is never fit for independence.

In India, adultery was a ground for divorce under Section 13(1) of Hindu Marriage Act 1956. As Former CJI stated Adultery can be ground for civil wrong, a ground for divorce but not criminal offence. Without having any idea that how many more cases of divorce are going to be increased. CJI also stated Adultery might not be cause unhappy marriage, it could be result of an unhappy marriage.How could he assume that its only an outcome of unhappy marriage, and not the outcome of having an instinct for extra fun and adventure in life. As per the recent survey done on the 500 people, 40% found to be involved in extramarital affairs, 28% were men and 12% women. While 40% said they were in an extramarital relationship because they were craving for a change, 35% said it was because of sexual incompatibility with spouse and 15% said it was because of stress. And that stress was not due to the Unhappiness in marriage and with their partners. Some were pressured to get married to someone they didnt love and that resulted in them seeking love elsewhere. Some said they did it to pass time when they were alone or away from their spouse, Not in a single case, one partner was responsible for the extra marital affair or adultery of the other partner. Suddenly, after having marriage and children people realise that they are not able to Satisfy their lust and they start seeking love and lust outside of their marriages. And family suffers, sometimes result into divorce and in few cases, it leads to suicide of the other partner, mostly women. And now when choice has been given by the court, the above ratio will increase drastically. On one hand we are banning Draconian Practice of Instant Triple Talaq to curb down the divorce on the other hand we are creating trench to bury validity of marriage by decriminalizing adultery. If Triple Talaq is a draconian practice and deserve to be banned, adultery is no less than that.

In India majority of women are still dependent whether socially or financially, criminalization of adultery was the most powerful source to stop the practice of adultery by their husbands, scrapping 497 by Apex Court has stopped women to raise their voice against the malpractice of adultery. A socially, financially disabled and illiterate women cannot opt for divorce too, hence she has no choice left with her. This stress will lead them towards a lot of physical and mental ailments. Right to Health is meaningless to them. Apart from divorce and suicide for women, its impact on children is more fatal. They will get distorted from their own houses and families. Rather than the existence of parents, there will be parent only.

They will be separated from their siblings too; their future is in absolute dark. Decriminalisation of Sec. 497 ended the fear of law to an adulterous person from doing the act. This fearlessness will be turned them into bull-headed and their foot-print will affect not only the family and society but also the whole Nation. Where society suffers like this, the doctrine of Directive Principles to form a Welfare State could not be fulfilled.

In many countries, adultery is not a criminal offence and many countries have legalised prostitution too. But we cannot allow our judicial thinking to be constricted by reference to the law as it prevails in other countries. We have different social, cultural and economical condition and we want law as per these parameters. Rather than competing laws from western countries, we have to build our own jurisprudence. This Anti-Women verdict should be revised for the welfare of the Nation.

Written by: Anubha Singh

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