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Mass rally in Manipur to protest against SC verdict on adultery

Mass rally in Manipur to protest against SC verdict on adultery
Protest rally against scrapping of adultery law by Supreme Court in Thoubal district on Sunday.
Correspondent IMPHAL, Apr 21 | Publish Date: 4/21/2019 11:51:12 AM IST

A mass rally was carried out on the streets of Manipur’s Thoubal district to register a strong protest against Supreme Court verdict declaring that adultery is not a crime.

In a landmark judgement, the Supreme Court on September 27, 2018 ruled that adultery is not a criminal offence, thus striking down a century-old law which was introduced during the time of the British. 

Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code said that adultery is defined as a person having sex with a man’s wife without taking prior consent from the husband. 

The law only applies to men – women can neither be charged with adultery, nor can they be the complainant. The protest rally carried out under the aegis of Women Against Crime (WAC), Manipur was participated by hundreds of women and students of some schools.

Placards with various slogans denouncing the Supreme Court verdict like “Married woman eloping to other should also be punished,” “Women with adultery charge should also be punished,” “Don’t suppress rights of children” etc. were displayed during the rally.

The rally kick-started from KM Blooming School, Khangabok and concluded with a public discussion at W Mani College, Thoubal.

Talking on the sidelines of the rally, WAC secretary, A Robita said that they were strongly against the verdict of the Supreme Court, while questioning how adultery which is against the social norm was not a criminal offence. She said that WAC totally disagrees with the Supreme Court judgement on adultery and that it was anti-women. 

She alleged the judgment was similar to giving an open general license to the people of this country to be in marriages but at the same time have illegitimate relationships. At the same time, she protested the law applying to only men. “We denounced the law that applies only to men. We want a law that govern women too,” she said.

Legal experts, who spoke at the public discussion, observed that the Supreme Court verdict was discriminatory against men and would diminish the few rights that men have in the country. Earlier, a charge of adultery could attract a penalty of five years. However, the new law has made adultery an offense only with respect to a man who has a relationship with somebody’s wife. 

The wife is considered neither adulterous nor an abettor in law, while the man faces a jail term of up to five years. This is nothing but gender discriminatory, they observed. They felt that instead of decriminalising adultery, the SC should have made it gender neutral.

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