Swati Maliwal says SC verdict on adultery gives 'open licence' for illicit relations, NCW chief expresses disagreement

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.

 Swati Maliwal says SC verdict on adultery gives open licence for illicit relations, NCW chief expresses disagreement

File image of DCW chief Swati Maliwal. PTI

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.

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. 

Another Twitter user took a dig at Maliwal's comments, saying:

To this, the DCW chief's reply was —

With inputs from IANS

Updated Date: Sep 28, 2018 00:12:45 IST