Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chairperson Swati Maliwal on Thursday criticised the striking down of the British-era adultery law by the Supreme Court, saying that the decision is tantamount to extending "open licence" to cheating among men.
In what was hailed as a landmark judgment by many, the apex court decriminalised adultery by striking down Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), terming it as unconstitutional, archaic and manifestly arbitrary, with Justice RF Nariman saying women cannot be treated as "chattel".
"Mere adultery can't be a criminal offence. It is a matter of privacy. Husband is not the master of wife. Women should be treated with equality along with men," Chief Justice Dipak Misra said earlier in the day.
Maliwal said that the judgment undermined the "sanctity of marriage".
"It is tantamount to giving an open licence to commit adultery to all. How can this be right? If this (decriminalisation of adultery) is right, then what is the sanctity of marriage? They should ban marriages as well.
Totally disagree with SC on adultery. They've given license to married couples 4 adulterous relationships. What's sanctity of marriage then?
Instead of making 497 gender neutral, criminalising it both for women and men they have decriminalised it totally! Anti women decision.
— Swati Maliwal (@SwatiJaiHind) September 27, 2018
Maliwal told reporters: "The majority of the women who come to the DCW are those who have been cheated upon by their husbands. Today's judgement will only aggravate the pain of women."
However, NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma did not share Maliwal's opinion on the matter and welcomed the apex court's decision as a step towards equality for women. "We have equal laws ensured in our Constitution. But there were some laws, like this law, which were not touched. Now they are being addressed. I am happy that we have begun thinking on the lines of equality a little," Sharma said.
Kavita Krishnan, secretary of the All India Progressive Women's Association (AIPWA) also expressed disagreement with Maliwal's views.
Why on earth should adultery be a crime? Btw in the adultery law b4 today it was the 'other man' not the wife (or husband) who was criminalized so question of 'criminalising both husband & wife' never arose. Pl bother to study issues b4 shooting mouth off on Twitter as DCW Chief! — Kavita Krishnan (@kavita_krishnan) September 27, 2018
Another Twitter user took a dig at Maliwal's comments, saying:
Let’s imagine a couple in wedlock, He realizes he’s Gay or She realizes She’s Lesbian or either realizes they are Bisexual and find their Love outside .. what would do with them @SwatiJaiHind - Free to love #377 or Criminal to cheat #497 ? pic.twitter.com/KGn6TpdoQn
— Yo Yo Funny Singh (@moronhumor) September 27, 2018
To this, the DCW chief's reply was —
Would suggest seek divorce first and then find your true love. Why be in an adulterous relationship? Why cheat on another human being? Imagine plight of a wife whose husband finds love outside marriage. U wish to understand the pain -visit DCW. Every second woman is facing this. https://t.co/owCp9FjHWG — Swati Maliwal (@SwatiJaiHind) September 27, 2018
With inputs from IANS
Updated Date: Sep 28, 2018 00:12 AM