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Women cannot be punished for adultery: NCW
Soni Mishra in New Delhi | December 25, 2006 17:07 IST
A woman cannot be punished for adultery even if she is involved in an illicit relationship and is treated as the victim under law, according to the National Commission for Women that has shot down proposals in this regard.
The section provides expressly that the wife shall not be punishable even as an abettor based on the reasoning that the wife, who is involved in an illicit relationship with another man, is a victim and not the author of the crime.
According to NCW sources, the Commission does not feel that by merely prescribing punishment for women by amending Section 497, the marriage can be protected or saved.
The NCW has forwarded its recommendations to the government, in which it has stated that considering the relatively socially-disempowered position of women, the Commission suggests no amendments to Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code.
The existing provision in the IPC is based on the mindset that the wife is a personal possession of the husband, who is the sole aggrieved person in an incident of adultery.
The Commission has, however, recommended suitable amendments to Section 198(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code, which as of now disqualifies the wife of an unfaithful husband from prosecuting him for his promiscuous behaviour.
It has told the government that as the wife already can take action against her husband under various other legal provisions, such as Section 498A of the IPC, there is no reason that she should be debarred from initiating prosecution under Section 198 of CRPC.
The wife, in such cases, ought to be the person aggrieved and competent to file a complaint under Section 198.