Parliamentary Panel Recommends Making Adultery a Crime, Contrary to Supreme Court Order

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A parliamentary panel has recommended reinstating adultery as a criminal offense in India, citing the sanctity of marriage. The proposal, part of the Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita bill, contradicts the Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling that decriminalized adultery.

Key Recommendations

The panel advocates for a gender-neutral approach, holding both parties equally liable. Dissenting voices, including Congress MP P Chidambaram, argue against state interference in personal lives. The proposal challenges the 2018 Supreme Court verdict and seeks to overhaul the criminal system.

Supreme Court’s 2018 Ruling

In 2018, the Supreme Court deemed adultery not a criminal offense, emphasizing individual autonomy and criticizing the archaic, paternalistic law. The proposed changes seek to overturn this decision and reintroduce punishments for both parties involved.

Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita Overview

The bill, part of a trio aimed at replacing key legal acts, including the Indian Penal Code, is under scrutiny by the Standing Committee on Home Affairs. Critics, like Chidambaram, contend that the bills largely replicate existing laws.

Government’s Legal Overhaul

The proposed changes extend beyond adultery, including penalties for non-consensual sex acts and revisiting punishments for crimes such as gang rapes and killing minors. The government’s push for a legal overhaul aligns with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of modernizing India’s legal framework.

Controversial Aspects

The panel’s call for penalizing non-consensual sex acts, reminiscent of the partially struck-down Section 377 criminalizing homosexuality, raises concerns. Despite the Supreme Court’s 2018 decision, the panel argues for the re-criminalization of specific acts.

Winding it up

The parliamentary panel’s recommendation sets the stage for a potential legal and societal debate over the role of the state in marital affairs and the need for contemporary legal frameworks. The clash between traditional values and evolving societal norms is evident in this proposed overhaul.