Adultery and the Indian Penal Code: Analysing the Gender Neutrality of the Law
12 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2010
Date Written: June 20, 2010
The main objective of this paper is to analyse the gender neutrality of the section 497 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 which deals with adultery. Adultery in India is a criminal offence which is committed by a third person against a husband in respect of his wife and of which a man can alone be held liable for the offence. The law of adultery is not applied on a woman. The first part of the article discusses about the present legal status for adultery in India and the essential ingredients of the offence. The second part of the article deals with the Supreme Court standing on the constitutional validity of the law based on various cases. The third part of the article criticises the present law and rulings of the Honourable Supreme Court and challenges the constitutional validity of the section on the grounds that it violates the fundamental rights of a man under Article 14 of the Indian Constitution and also this Section does not come under the purview of the saving clause under Article 15 (3) of the Indian Constitution. The fourth part of the article mentions about the changes recommended by the various committees. The fifth part of the article discusses about the legal provisions in other countries and will analyse if adultery should be de-criminalised in India considering that the socio-economic background of India. The article concludes that there has been a large change in the society, the law as it stands today not only violates the Indian Constitution that includes equal justice for every citizen of India but also due to change in the norms and behaviour of the society, adultery should be made a civil wrong rather than a criminal offence.
Keywords: Adultery, Indian Penal Code, Gender equality, Constitution of India
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