Adultery A Crime Without Consent Of Women: Chief Justice Dipak Misra

The Supreme Court bench said that adultery committed with spousal consent is not an offence. Thus, making the law gender neutral will not make it an offence, the bench observed.

Adultery A Crime Without Consent Of Women: Chief Justice Dipak Misra

The five-judge Supreme Court Constitution Bench was hearing the petition filed by Joseph Shine (File)

New Delhi:

The Supreme Court yesterday reserved the verdict on Section 497 (Adultery) of the Indian Penal Code while observing that infidelity is the cause of breaking up of loyal marriages.

A five-judge Constitution Bench of the top court headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, after hearing the arguments of the Centre, stated, "The idea of imposition of Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code is not to enforce monogamy but to ensure to protect fidelity in the marriage, which is a promise made by both the parties while entering to a marriage."

Additional Solicitor General, Pinky Anand, appearing for the Centre said marriage instills a sense of sanctity between two individuals and also in the society, to which the Chief Justice observed that adultery is an offence if done without the consent of the woman. The Supreme Court bench said that adultery committed with spousal consent is not an offence. Thus, making the law gender neutral will not make it an offence, the bench observed.

The five-judge Constitution Bench was hearing the petition filed by a businessman, Joseph Shine. The bench also comprises Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman, Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice Indu Malhotra and Justice AM Khanwilkar.

Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), punishes only the man who establishes a sexual relationship with a married woman, without the consent of her husband, but not a woman. Further, if the husband of the woman gives his consent for sexual intercourse with another man, the law does not recognise it as an offence.

The petitioner has argued that Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code should be struck down, claiming that it is unconstitutional, unjust, illegal, arbitrary and violates fundamental rights.
 

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