The Supreme Court on Thursday decriminalised adultery after striking down a British era law — Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code — terming it as unconstitutional, archaic and manifestly arbitrary.
Supreme Court lawyer Shilpi Jain told IANS that the law was sexist.
“Even 20 years ago, I have said the law should be struck down as it is sexist. It was, no doubt, an archaic law. In today’s time, the law was irrelevant, especially when many marriages were broken and divorces take years to happen,” she said.
“It was much needed the law is struck down. We have even legitimised live-in relationships and after that is legitimised, how can you question adultery.
“The verdict was the need of the hour and in the modern time, women need some breathing space and by doing away with this the law has given some breathing space to them,” Jain added.
Social activist Ranjana Kumari too welcomed the judgment, saying “patriarchal control over women’s body unacceptable”.
“We welcome the judgement by the Supreme Court striking down the 158-year-old law based on Victorian values, in Section 497 of Penal code, which treats women as property of husbands and criminalises adultery. Patriarchal control over women’s body unacceptable,” she tweeted.
Rekha Sharma, Chairperson of the National Commission for Women in a tweet said: “Women are not the property of their husbands.
“I welcome the Supreme Court’s verdict to strike down Section 497 and abolish the outdated adultery law as a criminal offence. Women are not the property of their husbands. This decision is not only for all the women but it is also a gender-neutral judgement.”
Senior lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan said it was “another fine judgement” by the apex court.
“Another fine judgement striking down the antiquated law, which treats women as property of husbands and criminalises adultery (only of the man who sleeps with someone’s wife). Adultery can be ground for divorce but not criminal,” Bhushan said.
Supreme Court Lawyer and Congress National Media Panellist Jaiveer Shergill also hailed the judgment.
“Much needed judgment delivered by Supreme Court – the words ‘Husband is not the master of the wife’ should be ‘etched in stone’ in every marital household – gender equality wins over regressive archaic law,” he tweeted.