Defending Section 497 of the IPC which makes adultery a punishable offence for men, the Centre told the Supreme Court that the provision “supports, safeguards and protects the institution of marriage” and sought dismissal of a petition challenging it.
The Centre said filed an affidavit in response to a PIL challenging the provision, according to which only the man can be punished and the woman cannot be punished even as an abettor. The court has already referred the matter to a Constitution bench, saying “the provision seems quite archaic and especially, when there is a societal progress.”
The petition “is liable to be dismissed at the very outset as Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 supports, safeguards and protects the institution of marriage,” the Union Home Ministry said in the affidavit.
“It is submitted that striking down section 497 of IPC and Section 198(2) CrPC will prove to be detrimental to the intrinsic Indian ethos which give paramount importance to the institution and sanctity of marriage. The provisions of law under challenge in the present writ have been specifically created by the legislature in its wisdom, to protect and safeguard the sanctity of marriage, keeping in mind the unique structure and culture of the Indian society,” the affidavit said.
The government said that the Malimath Committee on Reforms of Criminal Justice System had recommended the amendment of Section 497 and this was under consideration of the Law Commission, which took it up in October 2013.
The final report of the Law Commission was still awaited, the Centre said, adding that the Commission “has intimated that they have identified certain focus areas and formed sub-groups to deliberate on such areas… and will finalise their views soon”.