India has been upgrading and amending its Laws which are obsolete for a long time now which is commendable but some concepts and Laws still put us in dilemma and in a situation where it becomes difficult for us to decide right or wrong. Adultery is one those controversial concepts.
Adultery in a layman language is something when a married woman agrees voluntarily to have sexual intercourse with the man who is not her husband.
According to Indian Penal Code, 1860 section 497 Adultery – “Whoever has sexual intercourse with a person who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the wife of another man, without the consent or connivance of that man, such sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape, is guilty of the offence of adultery, and shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine, or with both. In such case the wife shall not be punishable as an abettor.”
Adultery is an invasion on the right of husband over his wife. It is an offence against the sanctity of matrimonial home. But when it comes to punishing the party for the offence, only ‘External male offender’ is punished with imprisonment which may extend up to five years, or fine or both. The wife is not punishable for being an adulteress, or even as an abettor of the offence, despite being a consenting party to the crime. She, though being an abettor easily gets away with it.
But as we see, the liability and the level of criminal responsibility remain same for both parties consenting to the offence. Then the question here arises is why only male offender is punished and not the woman who is also committing the same offence? Isn’t it high time now that the woman also should be considered within the purview of section 497 and punished as well? Today, as we talk about modernization, all of us are easily encouraged to bring on the rights of women and laws relating to women empowerment but if we have started putting woman at equal place and reputation as a man then isn’t it necessary to hold woman liable for her actions equally as well?
Adultery in other countries:
England and France: Adultery, though not being punishable as criminal offence, a woman is held liable and punished from 3 months to 2 years of imprisonment in France and adulterer is punished similarly. Here husband of woman offender if he wants may put an end to his wife’s sentence by taking her back.
Germany: The spouse because of whom the marriage is dissolved as a result of adultery is punished with not less than 6 months and the male offender is also punished. Here the petition has to filed by the aggrieved spouse.
Pakistan and Islamic countries: In Islamic countries, Adultery is viewed as heinous crime and both male and female offenders are punished to extent of death sentence.
Even in Jammu and Kashmir Ranbir Penal code, woman is punished as an abettor to the crime along with the male offender.
Now, the whole point of view of taking woman within the consideration of this Law might offend some people but at the end personally being a lady I feel if you seek equal rights, you ought to put up with equal duties as well. I would ask if you as readers agree with the same or not and would like to know the opinions of yours as well.
Reference: Indian Penal code, K. D. Gaur