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Constitution Bench to look at adultery law

Terming the penal provision as archaic, a three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said it was time to reconsider its past decisions and consistent view from 1954 onwards that the penal provision was necessary to uphold family ties.

Section 497 mandates that if a man has sexual intercourse with another’s wife without the husband’s “consent or connivance”, he is “guilty of the offence of adultery and shall be punished.”

The court had issued notice on December 8, 2017 on a petition filed by Joseph Shine, represented by advocates Kaleeswaram Raj and Suvidutt M.S. The Bench observed in the order that the provision raised a question mark on social progress, outlook, gender equality and gender sensitivity.

Focus on women’s rights

It was time to bring to the forefront a different view with focus on the rights of women, Chief Justice Misra observed.

The Constitution Bench would likely consider whether Section 497 would treat the man as the adulterer and the married woman as always a victim.

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