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SC's adultery verdict strong, progressive on gender equality, say women lawyers


Press Trust of India New Delhi
The Supreme Court's judgement which on Thursday scrapped the penal provision on adultery received kudos from leading women advocates who dubbed it as a "strong" and "progressive" decision on gender equality.
Senior advocate Rebecca John and lawyers Aishwarya Bhati and Menaka Guruswamy, termed as correct the apex court's observation that the adultery law dented the individuality of women and treated them as "chattel of husbands".
While John said Section 497 (adultery) of the Indian Penal Code should have been struck down 50 years ago, Bhati opined that the verdict will go a long way in ensuring that women's rights are "strongly and robustly embedded" in the system and cannot be taken away.
Guruswamy termed the verdict as a good decision on gender equality and said that "it makes perfect sense as clearly the Supreme Court is saying that men and women within marriage are equal".
John said: "It should never have been a part of modern India's penal code because it was an extremely archaic patriarchal law. Too late but a welcome move."

Bhati said the law was "one of those colonial baggages that we had to let go of as it was from an era where women were treated as chattel of men and wife was the property of the husband".
The apex court's five-judge Constitution bench was unanimous in striking down Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code dealing with the offence of adultery and holding it as manifestly arbitrary, archaic law which is violative of the rights to equality and equal opportunity to women.

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First Published: Sep 27 2018 | 4:20 PM IST

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