New Delhi, Aug 8: The Supreme Court on Wednesday questioned the Centre for defending the adultery law that punishes only a married man for extramarital affair with a married woman. The court reserved its judgment on the validity of the law. As the government defended the retention of Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for preserving the “sanctity of marriage”, a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra asked as to how it preserved the “sanctity” as the extramarital affair was non-punishable if the woman’s husband stood by her.
On the conclusion of arguments, the bench also comprising Justice Rohinton Nariman, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Indu Malhotra, reserved its verdict. “Where is the sanctity of marriage when the husband can consent?” asked Justice Nariman. The Chief Justice said: “We are not questioning the legislature’s competence to make laws but where is the ‘collective good’ in Section 497?”
Telling the Centre’s counsel and Additional Solicitor General Pinki Anand that “dichotomy is manifest (in Section 497)”, Chief Justice Misra said: “The husband can only have control over his emotion and cannot ask his wife to do this or that.” The court was hearing a PIL that challenged the constitutional validity of Section 497 and Section 198(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
The Additional Solicitor General said: “Marriage includes just not the spouses but the families, children, communities and society” and that its sanctity could not be violated.” Insisting that the penal provision should remain to punish adultery as it was a threat to the sanctity of marriage, Anand said that there was no claim to privacy in an adulterous life. (IANS)