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Supreme Court Asks Why Punish Married Men Alone for Adultery

Team SoOLEGAL 11 Dec 2017 10:42am

Supreme Court Asks Why Punish Married Men Alone for Adultery

The Apex Court questioned the validity of Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalises adultery by men but not by women.

The Supreme Court of India has agreed to examine the constitutional validity of a 157-year-old 'gender discriminatory' provision in Indian Penal Code which punishes a married man for adultery for consensual sexual relations with another man's wife.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud sought the Centre's response in four weeks to a PIL by Joseph Shine from Kerala who is employed at Trento in Italy on why a married man alone and not the consenting wife of another should be hauled up.

What persuaded the SC to examine the constitutional validity of what it felt might be an archaic provision was the clean chit given to the woman, irrespective of her role in the adulterous relationship, as also counsel Kaleeswaram Raj's argument that as per Section 497 no offence of adultery is committed if there was consensual sexual relation between an unmarried man and an unmarried woman; an unmarried man and a married woman; and between a married man and an unmarried woman.

Section 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."

The bench said: "Prima facie, on a perusal of Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code, we find that it grants relief to the wife by treating her as a victim. It is also worthy to note that when an offence is committed by both of them, one is liable for the criminal offence but the other is absolved. It seems to be based on a societal presumption." [Source: TOI]

Tagged: Supreme Court   Indian Panel Code   Section 497   Justice  
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