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Adultery decriminalized in India as it makes women ‘chattel’ of husbands – Supreme Court

Adultery decriminalized in India as it makes women ‘chattel’ of husbands – Supreme Court
The Supreme Court in India has struck down an “unconstitutional” colonial-era law making adultery a criminal offence, saying it makes women “chattel” of their husbands.

In the second such landmark ruling this month, India’s Supreme Court decriminalized the 158-year-old adultery offence as it treats the “husband like the master” of a woman, “offending” her dignity. It comes after the same court decriminalized gay sex earlier this month.

Penal code Section 497 gives husbands the right to prosecute other married men if they have a relationship with their wife without their “consent.” If the defendant is found guilty, he could be thrown in jail for up to five years, face a fine, or both.

Saying the archaic law allows husbands to “to use the woman as a chattel,” a five-judge bench remarked about the colonial-era legislation: “This is archaic law long outlived its purpose and does not square with constitutional morality,” the Hindustan Times reports.

READ MORE: India makes Muslim ‘triple talaq’ divorce punishable by up to 3yrs in jail

They added that where the law “falls foul of constitutional guarantee,” the court must intervene to strike it down even when the government fails to do so.

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