SUPREME COURT TO LOOK INTO GENDER DISCRIMINATORY PROVISION WHICH PUNISHES ONLY MEN FOR ADULTERY

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The Hush Post: The constitutional validity of a 157-year-old ‘gender discriminatory’ provision in Indian Penal Code which punishes a married man for adultery for consensual sexual relations with another man’s wife could change. The Supreme Court agreed on Friday to examine into its validity. A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud sought the Centre’s response in four weeks. This after a PIL was filed by Joseph Shine from Kerala, who asked on why a married man alone and not the consenting wife of another should be hauled up.

What persuaded the SC to look into the constitutional validity of what it felt might be an archaic thing was the clean chit given to the woman, irrespective of her role in the adulterous relationship, as also counsel Kaleeswaram Raj’s argument that as per Section 497 no offence of adultery is committed if there was consensual sexual relation between an unmarried man and an unmarried woman; an unmarried man and a married woman; and between a married man and an unmarried woman.
Ordinarily, criminal law proceeds on gender neutrality but in this provision, as we perceive, the said concept is absent.

While seeking the Centre’s response, the bench has said: “Time has come when the society must realise that a woman is equal to a man in every field. This provision, prima facie, appears to be quite archaic. When the society progresses and the rights are conferred, the new generation of thoughts spring, and that is why, we are inclined to issue notice.’’

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