Responding to the Centre’s plea to include adultery as a crime for army associates, the Supreme Court said it will examine the matter. As such, the top court requested the Chief Justice of India to form a committee of 5 judges for acting on it and clearing the issue.
Earlier in 2018’s September, an apex court’s bench had trashed the 158-year-old law, which deemed adultery to be a crime within India. In a sexual relationship, a man could be held guilty for doing an affair but a woman cannot, as she is apparently her husband’s property, as per section 497 of the Indian Penal Code. Even if the relationship is mutual, the man is liable to be punished if he did so with the wife of a man who had no knowledge of the affair and did not give his consent for it.
The law ensured that men are described as the sexual offender, calling them “seducers” while the women are “seduced”, becoming the victims. This sexual passivity bestowed upon women has been long seen as a notion that needs to be eliminated from society and law.
When the law was being reformed in 2018, a petition had mentioned that forgiving the women who commit adultery with the due consent of their husbands corresponds to “institutionalized discrimination” as it discriminates against women.
The then Chief Justice Dipak Mishra had passed the order saying, “Adultery cannot and should not be a crime.”
According to the plea submitted in court today, the Centre reiterated that the law needs to be implemented for army personnel with the allowance to dismiss them from their posts if they engage in adultery with their colleague’s wife, on the grounds of unbecoming conduct.
The government said, “The Supreme Court verdict (2018) on adultery may cause instability within the armed forces as defense personnel is expected to function in peculiar conditions and have to stay separated from their families for a long duration.”
“Discipline is the bedrock of the work culture in defense services and an essential ingredient for combat operations,” it said.
The peculiar conditions put forth by the defense force members were ostensibly either not considered or were not explained in detail to the top court before it gave its verdict in 2018. Apart from that, chances are that the SC did not take into account the power given to the Parliament by the Constitution makers where they are permitted to repeal their fundamental rights, according to Article 33.
Following the petition of the central government, the apex court released a notice to the petitioner who had originally filed the plea due to which the adultery act was decriminalized in 2018.
Earlier in 2018 as well, the Centre had challenged the petition, defending section 497 by calling it a disrespect to the purity and sacredness of marriage. To this, the court argued and asked as to how the law could safeguard the holiness of marriage at an instance when the affair dint award any sort of imprisonment to the doers, given the woman’s husband supports her.