‘Decriminalising adultery will undermine marriage’

A division bench of Justices BH Marlapalle and UD Salvi was hearing a petition challenging the constitutional validity of sec 497 of the IPC.

Mumbai: Doing away with a provision in
the Indian Penal Code which penalises adultery would undermine
the sanctity and institution of marriage in the society, the
Bombay High Court observed.

A division bench of justices BH Marlapalle and UD
Salvi was hearing a petition challenging the constitutional
validity of section 497 of the IPC.

"If this section pertaining to adultery as a criminal
offence is done away with, what happens to the sanctity and
institution of marriage. The entire concept of family and
marriage would be defeated," the judges remarked.

A city-based businessman, who is facing a criminal
case under section 497 for allegedly having affair with a
married woman, has filed the present petition.

"In the Indian society, marriage is considered as a
sacrosanct relation between a mature man and a woman. Adultery
is not an offence against the society but an offence against
the bond of marriage," Justice Marlapalle observed.

"In family court, majority of divorce cases are filed
on grounds of incompatibility. Very few cases are filed on the
grounds of adultery. The reason is tolerance. A married couple
tries its best to protect the marriage," he said.

Appearing for the petitioner, senior counsel Niteen
Pradhan had earlier argued that it was a woman`s fundamental
right to have sex with a man of her choice, and it cannot be
curtailed by an archaic and outdated concept of decency.

Advocate Mihir Desai, appearing for the NGO `Forum
Against Oppression of Women` which has filed an intervening
application in this case, argued that the section is
discriminatory and should be done away with.

The arguments will continue tomorrow.


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