Adultery Is No Longer A Crime– Supreme Court

By Ikenga Chronicles September 28, 2018

Adultery Is No Longer A Crime– Supreme Court

India’s Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that adultery is no longer a crime.

Recall that more than a century-old law had prescribed that any man who slept with a married woman without her husband’s permission had committed adultery, a crime carrying a five-year prison term.

A petitioner had challenged the court to strike down the law, describing it as arbitrary and discriminatory against women.

“Thinking of adultery from a point of view of criminality is a retrograde step,” unanimously declared the five-judge bench of the Supreme Court.

The court said it deprived women of dignity and individual choice and “gives license to the husband to use women as a chattel”.

“It disregards the sexual autonomy which every woman possesses and denies agency to a woman in a matrimonial tie,” said Supreme Court Justice D.Y. Chandrachud.

“She is subjugated to the will of her spouse.”

The bench argued that Section 377 had become “a weapon for harassment” of homosexuals and “history owes an apology to the members of this community and their families”.

On adultery, government lawyers argued it should remain a crime as it threatens the institution of marriage, and causes harm to children and families.

But in its ruling, the court said extramarital affairs — while still a valid ground for divorce — were a private matter between adults.

In their ruling on Thursday, the judges said this narrative no longer applied, noting also that Britain did away with its own laws penalising adultery long ago.

“Man being the seducer and women being the victim no longer exists. Equality is the governing principle of a system. Husband is not the master of the wife,” the verdict added.

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