ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Adultery and the Malimath Committee

This is in response to the comment by Amitabh Singh (27 October 2012) on a part of my article "Law and Live-in Relationships in India” (29 September 2012). The commentator suggests that I have argued that Malimath Committee’s suggestion that “a wife who has sexual intercourse with a married man should be held guilty of adultery” is vague and ambiguous. Without repeating the detailed argument which is already available in my article, I wish to offer three clarifications.

Firstly, the said statement of the committee is inconsistent as, for a sexual act to be considered adulterous, within the existing legal provisions, the man, who alone is treated as the guilty party, need not be married. The point about the statement not referring to generic categories of man or woman was thus made in the light of the existing definition of adultery, i e, an offence that a “man commits when he has sexual intercourse with the wife of another man without the consent or connivance of the husband”, which, it should be noted, does make a generic category of man the offender, rather than only a married man. Any attempt to expand the cate­gory of the offender in this definition is hardly captured by the statement in question.

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