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The Outsider

The Supreme Court has agreeably opened up the question of a reconsideration of the adultery law again by agreeing to look into the constitutional validity of Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code. Under this Section, a man can be prosecuted for adultery directly. This time the apex court needs to do more than pronounce its view on the provision that discriminates against men and gives an unconstitutional exemption to women. While reasonably agreeing to send notices to the government, the Bench of the Supreme Court has observed that the provision is much archaic. It stated that in a case of adultery, a single person is liable for the offense committed but the other is absolved, and the wider concept of gender neutrality is absent. The court also stated that once the consent of the husband is established, there is no offense or case of adultery at all. Earlier, the SC rejected the argument that it is being discriminatory by pointing out that both neither a man or a woman can reasonably prosecute their disloyal spouses. According to the SC, it is only the ‘outsider’ in the extramarital relationship who should be prosecuted, and that too only by the aggrieved husband. it is one thing for the adultery issue to be a ground of divorce or a civil proceeding and another thing for it to be a strong basis of incarceration. The provision and the act itself would end up being a travesty if, in the name of women empowerment, the criminal law is extended to both genders.

The Outsider

The Supreme Court has agreeably opened up the question of a reconsideration of the adultery law again by agreeing to look into the constitutional validity of Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code. Under this Section, a man can be prosecuted for adultery directly. This time the apex court needs to do more than pronounce its view on the provision that discriminates against men and gives an unconstitutional exemption to women. While reasonably agreeing to send notices to the government, the Bench of the Supreme Court has observed that the provision is much archaic. It stated that in a case of adultery, a single person is liable for the offense committed but the other is absolved, and the wider concept of gender neutrality is absent. The court also stated that once the consent of the husband is established, there is no offense or case of adultery at all. Earlier, the SC rejected the argument that it is being discriminatory by pointing out that both neither a man or a woman can reasonably prosecute their disloyal spouses. According to the SC, it is only the ‘outsider’ in the extramarital relationship who should be prosecuted, and that too only by the aggrieved husband. it is one thing for the adultery issue to be a ground of divorce or a civil proceeding and another thing for it to be a strong basis of incarceration. The provision and the act itself would end up being a travesty if, in the name of women empowerment, the criminal law is extended to both genders.

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