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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court questioned the Centre’s stand defending the adultery law and his submission that the penal provision on adultery was needed to save the sanctity of marriage, saying it does not appeal to common sense that a woman cannot prosecute her husband for adulterous relationship.

A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra asked how it preserved the “sanctity” when with the extra-marital affair becomes non-punishable if the woman’s husband stands by her. The bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, which reserved its verdict on a plea challenging Section 497 of the IPC.

Other judges on the bench are Justice Rohinton Nariman, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Indu Malhotra.

The Chief Justice further said, “We are not questioning the legislature’s competence to make laws, but where is the ‘collective good’ in Section 497 of IPC?

Arguing on behalf of the Centre, Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand said, “In India, marriage is a sacred institution, so any intrusion into that is something which should attract penal consequences.”

“Where is the sanctity of marriage when the husband can consent?” asked Justice R F Nariman. The bench said the law in question was only “targetting” married women and not the men who can have relationships with unmarried women.


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