NEW DELHI: Seeking dismissal of the petition which has challenged section 497 of the Indian Penal code which makes adultery a punishable offence for men, Centre on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that striking it down would go against Indian ethos and destroy the institution of marriage.
Under the present law section 497 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the crime is applicable only to men who have sexual relations with a woman who isn't their wife.
Filing an 11 page affidavit which would be taken up before a constitution time in due course, Centre says it is opposing a plea that seeks to make men and women equally liable for the crime of adultery, which they currently aren't and said, "Section 497 supports, safeguards and protects the institution of marriage.
It is submitted that striking down section 497 of IPC and section 198 (2) of CrPC will prove to be detrimental to intrinsic Indian ethos which gives paramount importance to the institution and sanctity of marriage." Section 497 was enacted to safeguard the sanctity of marriage and diluting it would be detrimental to the matrimonial bond."
"Stability of a marriage is not an ideal to be scorned," the affidavit reads while stating that Law Commission of India too has been considering the same since December 2014.
Last year, the court had agreed to examine the constitutional validity of the archaic gender discriminatory provision in the IPC which punishes a married man for adultery for consensual sexual relations with another man's wife on 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. Jose said it was not a crime in the UK and in most of the European countries.
The CJI had also observed that it was time to bring to the forefront a different view with the focus on the rights of women.
The bench had also observed that, "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." Ends.
Whoever has sexual inte 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.