A five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court unanimously struck down the colonial-era Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code Thursday. And just like that, adultery is no longer a crime in India.
“Adultery will, however, continue to be a ground for any civil wrong, including a ground for divorce,” reports The Indian Express.
The controversial section was challenged by a non-resident Indian, who questioned its bias against men: Under the law, a man was liable for punishment if he had an affair with a woman without her husband’s consent.
In the verdict, CJI Dipak Misra wrote, “It is demonstrable that women are treated as subordinate to men inasmuch as it lays down that when there is connivance or consent of the man, there is no offence.”
“This treats the woman as a chattel. It treats her as the property of man and totally subservient to the will of the master,” he added.
In its editorial, The Times of India criticised the government’s stand on the issue. “The only updation it suggested was making the law gender-neutral, rendering the wife too eligible for arrest. This was a clear failure to comprehend why the law was an anachronism in the first place…”
Meanwhile, “the Supreme Court, in a 2-1 verdict Thursday, rejected a plea to refer to a larger bench its 1994 ruling in which it observed that ‘a mosque is not an essential part of the practice of the religion of Islam and namaz (prayer) by Muslims can be offered anywhere, even in open’, reports The Indian Express.
This clears the way for appeals against the 2010 Allahabad High Court order trifurcating the disputed land to be taken up for hearing in the week starting 29 October.
In his dissenting opinion, Justice S. Abdul Nazeer wrote, “…It is clear that the questionable observations in (the 1994 judgment) have certainly permeated the impugned judgment (of the Allahabad High Court).”
“It is clear… that the question as to whether a particular religious practice is an essential or integral part of the religion is a question which is to be considered by considering the doctrine, tenets and beliefs of the religion. It is also clear that the examination of what constitutes an essential practice requires detailed examination,” he added.
In light of this, The Indian Express writes in its editorial, “Dissent in Ayodhya verdict deserves a hearing.”
“…Can one brush aside the possibility that observations on a sensitive religious issue would be exploited by one side to gain legal advantage?” The Hindu writes in its editorial.
Political ramifications of the Supreme Court’s verdict
India Today anchor Preeti Choudhry conducted a discussion on the Babri masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi dispute as well.
BJP spokesperson Tuhin A. Sinha said, “We would ideally love it if the judgment happens before Diwali.”
Iqbal Ansari, a key litigant in the dispute, commented, “Let the court decide. We are sure that we will emerge the winners. All the facts are on our side.”
News it’s just kinda cool to know
According to an AFP report, British scientists may have finally identified the biggest bird to ever walk the planet. Vorombe titan of Madagascar, now extinct, “would have stood at least 10 feet tall, and had an average weight of 650 kg”, the report said.