In what was hailed as a landmark judgement by many, the apex court decriminalised adultery by striking down Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code, terming it as unconstitutional, archaic and manifestly arbitrary, with one judge saying women cananot be treated as “chattel”.
“Mere adultery can’t be a criminal offence. It is a matter of privacy. Husband is not the master of wife. Women should be treated with equality along with men,” Chief Justice Dipak Misra said earlier in the day.
Taking exception to the widely praised verdict, Maliwal said that it undermines the “sanctity of marriage”.
“It is tantamount to giving an open licence to commit adultery to all. How can this be right? If this (decriminalisation of adultery) is right then what is the sanctity of marriage? They should ban marriages as well.
“Majority of the women who come to the DCW are those who have been cheated upon by their husbands… Today’s judgement will only aggravate the pain of women,” Maliwal told reporters after the verdict.
National Commission for Women Chairperson Reha Sharma, however, did not share Maliwal’s view on the matter and welcomed the decision as a step towards equality for women.
“We have equal laws ensured in our Constitution. But there were some laws, like this law, which were not touched. Now they are being addressed. I am happy that we have begun thinking on the line of equality a little,” Sharma said.