By decriminalising adultery, the honourable Supreme Court has opened the Pandora’s Box. It is being hailed as a win for individual’s right but it is not. Adultery is no more a crime because it involves two consenting adults who got into a relationship. Both are equally responsible for their act. But, if adultery is not a criminal offence and only a valid reason for divorce, then why should prostitution be a criminal profession? However, what has been delivered, it is contrary to what was required, i.e. steps to ensure a successful, happy marriage. Let’s say if a woman/man is into an extramarital affair, which they have selected to be in now, what do they have to lose now? They will get the divorce. Ok. But the question is what about the victim in this scenario, he/she will have to live with this brutal and bitter truth that he/she was lied and betrayed by his/her partner and rendered helpless by the law. One wonders where we are heading to. Something unexpected has happened in our country, which is well known the world over for the happy married life people lead here. Actually, adultery should have been made a serious crime, severely punishable under the law. One feels that the judgement is not in the interest of our country, as some concerns arise post this verdict: The sanctity of the marriage as an institution; Future of children born out of adultery; Increase of extramarital affairs post this verdict; Future of arranged marriages; Moral values of family/marriages system among the youths and married ones. Overall, a much-awaited progressive verdict, but we should not blink at the above concerns in way of moving forward.
Furthermore, it cannot be gainsaid that India as a country is looked upon with esteem and regard all over the globe for its rich moorings and traditions. Now, it appears that this mark will be at stake with the verdict of the Supreme Court. As a person, who believes in traditions of our country, I disagree with the verdict. I feel it is a blow to the institution of marriage, which rests on the pillars of love, faith and loyalty. Adultery is a blunder, irrespective of whether it is the error of the man or the woman. There is no meaning in the institution of marriage if the argument is about discrimination against women. It is hoped this does not lead to destruction of an established institution called marriage. This institution has the privilege of helping the development of a healthy society with high qualities such as tolerance, mutual trust, goodwill, apart from imparting the traits of love affection and caring for fellow beings in the children, the future of the country. What is more, children born out of adultery may not get the advantages of good parenting, which can guide them towards the good things of human life. Such children may become ruffians/terrorists, owing to anti-social elements getting control of them in the name of fulfilling their wants, which may grow beyond reasonable proportions. This can pose insurmountable danger to the welfare of the society and the country at large. Hence, the judgement, apparently for maintenance of individual rights, is unsatisfactory. This could only open the floodgates for a proliferation of sexual crimes associated with adultery. Maybe, the colonial law was outdated but nevertheless it served somewhat as a restraint. With the removal of provisions related to adultery from the IPC and the CrPC, there is an absolute termination of prevention now. Therefore, it is absurd to evaluate the culture of India with the West in trying to justify outlawing adultery.
By Deepak Kumar Rath