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SC verdict on adultery a positive step towards achieving equal rights for all: Amnesty

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New Delhi, Sep 27 :  The Supreme Court’s judgement declaring that adultery is not a crime is a “positive” step towards achieving equal rights for all and upholds individual dignity, Amnesty International India said on Thursday.

The Supreme Court struck down a colonial-era anti-adultery law, saying it was unconstitutional, dented the individuality of women and treated them as “chattel of husbands”.

“In a progressive judgment safeguarding individual dignity, sexual autonomy and freedom from discrimination, the Supreme Court has declared Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code to be constitutionally invalid.

“Section 497 is a colonial-era law, which has no place in a modern society. It is remnant of a time when a woman was considered to be the property of her husband,” said Asmita Basu, Programmes Director, Amnesty India.

The apex court’s five-judge Constitution bench was unanimous in striking down Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code dealing with the offence of adultery, holding it as manifestly arbitrary, archaic and violative of the rights to equality and equal opportunity to women.

Basu said, “This is a positive step towards achieving equal rights for all. We look towards the court with renewed hope for many such gender-sensitive judgments in the future.”

The top court, which held adultery as a relic of the past, said the autonomy is intrinsic in dignified human existence and Section 497 denudes women from making choices.

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