By SM.11 Jul, 2018
NEW DELHI: Adultery must remain a punishable offence so the sanctity of marriage can be protected, the Centre told the Supreme Court today after a petition called for the law to be scrapped, contending it does not treat men and women equally. The Victorian law has provisions to punish a man having sexual relations with another man"s wife without his consent with a jail term of five years and a fine. There is no punishment for women.
A five-judge constitution bench is expected to hear the case after settling the petitions challenging the ban on gay sex. In January, while agreeing to hear the case, the court said earlier verdicts on this issue have to be revisited I view of social progression, gender equity and sensitivity.
The Centre, which today left it to the Supreme Court to take a call on the British-era gay sex ban, pushed for a dismissal of the petition on adultery.
Scrapping Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code and the Section 198(2) Criminal Procedure Code, the Centre said, "will prove to be detrimental to the intrinsic Indian ethos which gives paramount importance to the institution and sanctity of marriage".
The Section 198(2) in The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973 says "no person other than the husband of the woman shall be deemed to be aggrieved" by adultery. In his absence, anyone else who "had the care of the woman when such offence was committed" may file a complaint on behalf of the husband.
"The law was enacted to protect and safeguard the sanctity of marriage, keeping in mind the unique structure and culture of the Indian society. The decriminalisation of adultery will result in weakening the sanctity of a marital bond and will result in laxity in the marital bond," the Centre said in its affidavit.
Earlier, the Supreme Court upheld the law against adultery thrice. But last year, in a judgment, the top court said the laws on adultery treats a woman as her husband"s subordinate and time has come for society to realise that a woman is a equal to a man in every respect.