She is no more personal estate of husband

Almost in most of countries adultery, law has been abolished. The term adultery refers to sexual acts between a married person and someone who is not that person's spouse. In India, section 497 of IPC punishes the offence of adultery committed with married women without the consent or conveyance of her husband. Here third person is punished for the crime against a husband in respect of his wife. This stereotype section gives a glimpse how women's were treated as chattel of man section also means that the married woman is not going to be  regarded as an 'abettor' of the offence, which means that the woman will not be  held liable for the act of adultery, the law does not apply in the case where an unmarried woman has intercourse with a married man. Finally, the act is not regarded to be an offence or can be 'cured' of its criminality if the husband of the married woman consents to her having intercourse with another man. In addition to this, Section 198 of the Code of Criminal Procedure gives only the husband the right to file a case against the man involved in the act of adultery.

Background behind this section 497

This section has been inserted under 'offence related to marriage' here individuality has nothing to do because this was framed by Britishers and at that time women was considered as chattel or object belonging to man. It took 158-year  to change this law that punished a man for an affair but not the woman. Thus, this section merely reinforces the archaic thinking and sexual stereotype that a woman  'belongs' to a man and cannot have her own thoughts or opinions; this, even if she  had voluntarily consented to the act of intercourse. 

What Hindu sacred texts says

In Naradasmriti, another dharmasastra text, consensual sex by a woman is not adultery and is not a punishable crime if her husband has abandoned her; he does not care for her or is a eunuch. Other Hindu texts present a more complex model of  behavior and mythology where gods commit adultery for various reasons and is justified by sacred texts. Lord Krishna commits adultery and the Bhagavata Purana justifies it as something to be expected when Vishnu took a human form, just like sages become uncontrolled. Whereas according to manusmriti adultery is heinous offense. 

In other countries

In the traditional English common law, adultery was a felony and in muslimcountries that follow Sharia law for criminal justice, the punishment for adultery may be stoning. There are fifteen countries in which stoning is authorized as lawful punishment, though in recent times it has been legally carried out only in Iran and Somalia.

In India Sexual agency and Individual autonomy 

The top court, calling adultery a relic of the past, said Section 497 " denudes women from making choices”. The court said any provision treating women with inequality is not constitutional and it is time to say that the husband is not the master of the woman. If someone "lives in adultery", the partner can file for divorce. Here adultery was not struck down but has left to be a crime to safe the sanctity of marital bond. Only the phrase 'wife of another man' has been changed and now it is read as sexual intercourse with a married woman amounts to adultery, The conveyance or consent of man is no more play a role. Only the man involved in the  act will be held criminally liable under the section. Adultery cannot be a crime,  unless it attracts the scope of Section 306 of the IPC (abetment to suicide), the court added.


sonali sharma 
on 05 October 2018
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