ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Is Adultery against the Common Good?

The state is endorsing patriarchal notions in the name of the common good.

The question of women’s rights within marriage has been tossed up in a hearing before the Supreme Court on the constitutional validity of Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that contains provisions for the adultery law. The apex court has asked the central government a normative question: What is the collective good in making adultery a punishable offence? The latter has given a justification that can only be termed regressive. It has defended Section 497 because it “supports, safeguards and protects the institution of marriage.” Striking it down will be detrimental to the “intrinsic Indian ethos which give paramount importance to the institution and sanctity of marriage,” it believes.

Section 497 of the 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. However, it does not permit women to prosecute an adulterous husband or the woman with whom the husband has indulged in sexual intercourse. The adulterous woman’s husband, thus, alone has the right to prosecute the “adulterer.”

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Updated On : 28th Aug, 2018
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