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Home > News > PTI

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 Commission had been asked by the Centre to review Section 497, which does not envisage prosecution of the wife by the husband for adultery.

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.

In another important recommendation, the Commission has said adultery should be treated as a civil wrong and not a criminal offence. It is of the view that there may be many instances where the woman wants to save the marriage and sees the adulterous relationship as an aberration.

The issue of adultery should be viewed as a breach of trust and be treated as a civil wrong rather than as a criminal offence. The NCW has, however, said this should be done only after a national consensus is formed on the issue.

© Copyright 2006 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
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Number of User Comments: 6

Sub: Gah!!!

This has to be the most regressive, ridiculous thing I've heard in a long time. Why does anyone, man or woman, need to _PUNISHED_ for ...

Posted by nits

Sub: NCW is unaware what happened in Kuwait the other day.

Two women kidnapped a "man" and forced him to engage him in intercourse. Is that not adultery ? Many elderly women seduce the innocent young ...

Posted by chanakya

Sub: NCW action will backfire

I find this ridiculus, NCW for women should not just support a women blindly regardless of what she does. If a women commits adultery she ...

Posted by Gandhi

Sub: Ridiculous

Ridiculous - blatant discrimination

Posted by Madhu

Sub: bullshit

bullshit!!! NCW is nothing but an organisation run by socialites for the so called socialites...

Posted by jay



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