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

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Deconstruct and Decriminalise


Right from the first draft of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) in 1860, to the recent petition filed by Joseph Shine in the Supreme Court, attempts have been made to discern the contours of the controversial offence of adultery.

Deconstruction of Section 497 of the IPC draws certain influences on substantive and procedural aspects: The accused, married or unmarried, must have sexual intercourse not amounting to rape with a woman whom he knows, or has reason to believe is the wife of another person who has neither consented nor connived for such sexual intercourse. After commission of such an act, only the husband is entitled to file a complaint against the accused, who can be punished with imprisonment up to a maximum of five years, if found guilty. The wife of the complainant is neither treated as particeps criminis (partner in crime), nor as an abettor. The wife of the accused, if he is married, is not entitled to file a complaint against her errant husband, and is left with only the civil remedy of seeking a divorce from him.

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Updated On : 23rd Feb, 2018
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