Supreme Court to re-examine 157-year old adultery law punishing only men
New Delhi : The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to re-examine 157-year old law on adultery that only punishes men even though the woman, with whom he has had consensual sex, maybe an equal partner.
"Prima facie, on a perusal of Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), 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, one is liable for the criminal offence but the other is absolved. It seems to be based on a societal presumption," a bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said.
Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code states that "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".
As per current law, the accused of adultery is punished with jail up to five years or fine or both. However, the woman gets no punishment and is treated as a victim in the case.
The Supreme Court said that it would examine the constitutional validity of the law and asked Centre to file a response within four weeks time.
The court said it needs to examine why a married woman, who may have been an equal partner to the offence of adultery with a married man who is not her husband, should not be punished along with the man.