Thursday, July 10, 2008

Should Adultery law must be applied equally to men and women ?

Some years back Justice Malimath Committee suggested a radical change in the law on adultery. The legal reform, has been recommended on amendments to provisions of the Indian Penal Code that disallow prosecution of women for the offence.

"The object of this section (Section 497 of the IPC) is to preserve the sanctity of marriage. Society abhors marital infidelity. Therefore, there is no reason for not meting out similar treatment to the wife who has sexual intercourse with a man (other than her husband)," the Committee said in its report submitted to the Centre.

It therefore suggested that "section 497 be suitably amended to the effect that whosoever has sexual intercourse with the spouse of any other person is guilty of adultery."

The Fifth Law Commission had in 1971 recommended similar changes, though it was never implemented.

The IPC, when in took form in 1860, was silent on the punishment for adultery with Lord Macaulay observing, "There are some peculiarities in the state of society in this country which may well lead a humane man to pause before he determines to punish the infidelity of wives."
The circumstances he referred to included child marriage and polygamy. Macaulay, hence, advised that it would be enough to treat it as a civil injury.

Will that tradition continue or will we have the end of discrimination with adultery laws being applied equally to men and women?

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