Understanding Section 497: Flaw in the Law

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What is Section 497? All you need to know 


IPC section 497 is in news from the past few days as the Supreme Court has issued a notice challenging the validity of section 497. Now, it is important to understand what is section 497? The Indian Penal Code was prepared under the Chairmanship of Thomas Babington Macaulay by the first law commission in the year 1835. It came into effect from January 1, 1862.  Well, this was the first law in modern India to provide a legal definition to term adultery.

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What does IPC section 497 stand for?

Section 497 says, ” whoever has sexual intercourse with a person who is and whom he knows or reasons to believe her to be the wife of another man, such sexual intercourse, not amounting to the offense of rape, is guilty of the offense of adultery. In such cases, the wife shall not be punished as an abettor.”  Unfortunately, Indian Panel code is based on Victorian values and looks at adultery from only one angle. The Indian Penal Code only has punishment for men not for women. For example, if Simran is married to Kuljeet and Simran has an affair with Raj, then Kuljeet can sue Raj but Simran would not be charged under the same offense. But why?

Also Read: Know Your Rights: 10 Laws That Every Indian Should Be Aware Of!

Punishment for Adultery

A person charged under adultery can be imprisoned for the period of 5 years, or with a fine, or with both.

Why it needs amendment?

Adulteration means mixing of an undesirable substance in an otherwise pure element. Now, here it is important to understand that a man’s purity has been adultered by another man. The husband has been cheated of his right to a pure bloodline and he should receive measure protection under the law. Basically, it means if a man’s property is defiled by another man, then he can punish the offender- the woman here is reduced to a mere property.  Also, if you look at a bigger picture, in a sexual act a man and a woman both are involved, then why only one is liable for the criminal offense.

Sex is consensual in this case

When a married man and a married woman have sex other than her husband- it is consensual. Both the party derive equal benefit. In that case, only one party cannot be punished. That is why this law needs an amendment. The apex court wants that the law should be re-looked for the development of the society.

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