Supreme court has struck down another archaic law on 27th September that is IPC Section 497 the Adultery law. The 158 years old law stated a woman has absolutely no say in the case of adultery, she can not even be punished for adultery, she is just a commodity, she has no say in it. Such medieval mentality is because of the time when this law was created 158 years ago, women were seen as properties of their husbands.
So if your wife involves in adultery with a person then that person will be punished. A typical case of Adultery means a conflict between Two Men about the Ownership of a property called ‘Woman‘. Furthermore, the law states, A Man can not involve himself in a relationship with another Man’s wife.
This again emphasizes the fact women were treated as properties of men and also there is another important thing be noted here, Read attentively the line where it says, a Man can not be in relationship with another man’s wife, that means a Man actually Can involve in relationship with other unmarried women, and there will be no legal issues.
This is the reason why so many marital rapes happen in the subcontinent and in most marriages in typical orthodox families, the woman has to suffer a lot of ordeals of what one being ‘not-being-loved’, with this kind of archaic laws active and where marriage is rather treated as a service agreement with non-negotiable terms for lifetime, people of this subcontinent often forget Marriage is based on mutual understanding and above all Love.
Now that this medieval law is withdrawn, this is one step forward towards a better and more mature society. In a good society, Marriage should be meant after Love only. In a healthy society think of marriage as an act of officially committing or publicly acknowledging being in a relationship with someone. But in reality the Indian marriages are often like a formal contract that you sign for Life, like owning a slave in medieval ages. So now, if a married man or woman stops loving his wife or husband at some point or if he or she fell in Love with someone else or in a typical conservative Indian marriage where She is never Loved by her husband, but she finds someone who loves her, in these cases the marriage should be considered as Failed marriage and that the official relationship is to be considered as already over.
Up until now what was happening here is that the husband files a case against the other man and that other man by law is declared a Criminal, and in all this the wife has no say except she could face severe Mal-treatment from her Sasural. The remedy Supreme Court suggested is, when an incident of adultery takes place then instead of putting a case on that other Man and tagging him as Criminal the married couple should just divorce and move on with their new life. Cause when you do not even love your officially acknowledged wife or husband anymore then that relationship is but just a contract only, and the Other Man or the Other Woman should not be tagged as Criminal for loving someone with conscience. The statement “adultery is legal” is not appropriate, it can mean many things, but what Supreme Court emphasized is on Decriminalizing adultery meaning, loving someone outside of marriage can be anything but isn’t an act of Crime by any means, and so the parties involved are not to be referred as Criminals.
One should remember adult relationships are conscientious, when it is conscientious from both sides then it isn’t rape or any crime like that. An adult man or woman is no one’s property thus none can forbid them from loving anyone. Now the question of morality comes whether you should do it or not, now decriminalizing adultery doesn’t mean its mandatory, if someone truly loves his or her life partner then there’s no logic in involving in extra marital affairs. The law simply means this Conscientious act of Love is not to be considered as a crime, this may very well mean the official marriage is over but this is no act of Crime.
Actually in a way this will enforce the responsibilities of a relationship, cause in southern Asia in Indian subcontinent specially marriage is a bond often taken for granted. Marriage here is like owning someone for life, the husbands here more often than not usually don’t care much about their wives after marriage, treat them as luxury commodity. Now that this law is changed, the men and women of the subcontinent finally will have to understand, that they need to put actual effort in Maintaining the relationship from both sides and have to take care of each other’s problems and needs.
Now there are several divorce laws and relationship laws some of them are even based on Mīmāṃsā, Manusmiti, Muslim laws, some of them makes the man liable to pay for his divorced wife’s living. Many women exploit that but now that the case of adultery is struck down, now in a case of a woman who is leaving a man for another man I think new laws will be made and the Man can defend himself financially.
I think this is a liberal step, western countries long have this liberty. Loving someone other than your wife or husband is not a crime but what that means is that the current marriage is over. We are likely to witness an increase in divorce rates but that’s not necessarily a bad thing for the society, faulty marriages will be over. Divorces will be like breakups and marriages be like commitments and that is how it should be.