HC to consider whether adultery is an offence
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Last Updated: Wednesday, June 29, 2011, 21:38
Mumbai: The constitutional validity of the adultery law has come under judicial scanner, with the Bombay High Court hearing a petition filed by a city-based businessman challenging it.

The businessman approached the Court after he was booked under section 497 -- pertaining to adultery -- of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for allegedly having an affair with a married woman. The offence attracts punishment of up to five years.

Senior counsel Niteen Pradhan, appearing for the petitioner, 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it was a woman's fundamental right to have sex with a man of her choice and it cannot be curtailed by an archaic and outdated concept of decency.

"People commit adultery only when their spouse is incompatible. It is when something begins to sour. It is not for thrills that anyone has a relationship outside marriage. The right to have sex with a person of one's choice is a fundamental right," Pradhan argued.

He further argued that the provision in law was discriminatory as a husband aggrieved by his wife's extra-marital relationship can get her paramour booked under section 497, but a wife can not invoke the provision if the husband is having affair with another woman.

Additional Solicitor General Darius Khambatta, however, opposed the petition, stating that the right to break up a marriage - by having an illicit affair with someone else's wife - cannot be seen as a Right to Life.

"The Supreme Court has rejected similar petition challenging the inclusion of adultery as an offence under IPC on three occasions," Khambatta argued.

"If two adults want to have consensual sex they are free to do so but they should remain outside the institution of marriage," Justice B H Marlapalle observed while adjourning the matter for further hearing.


First Published: Wednesday, June 29, 2011, 21:38

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