Going through the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, I came across the Nullity of Marriage and Divorce. It talks about reliefs available to a married couple in order to dissolve their marriage- essentially, Divorce. One of the grounds for obtaining divorce under the Act is commission of adultery.
Adultery in its literal sense, is a voluntary act of sexual intercourse between a married person and a person who is not their spouse; or in the rawest sense is infidelity or disloyalty. According to Section 13, Clause (1), Sub-clause (i) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, “Any marriage solemnized, whether before or after the commencement of this Act, may, on a petition presented by either the husband or the wife, be dissolved by a decree of divorce on the ground that the other party has, after the solemnisaton of the marriage, had voluntary sexual intercourse with any other person other than his or her spouse.”
However, the Indian law recognizes the act of Adultery as a criminal act also. Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code defines adultery as, “Whoever has sexual intercourse with a person who is or whom HE knows or has reason to believe to be the WIFE of another MAN without the CONSENT or CONNIVANCE of that MAN, such intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape, is guilty of adultery.” The relief available under the Hindu Marriage Act is gender neutral, i.e. the divorce can be granted to one spouse if the other spouse commits the act of adultery irrespective of who commits it (if husband or wife). Whereas, the Indian Penal Code lays down that only a MAN can be punished for the criminal act of adultery. Moreover a wife is not punishable even as an abettor of such an act.
Now that we’ve been enlightened with the legal provisions pertaining adultery, we can discuss our “Interrogative title”.
Why do we need to see this act in plurality?
– Because our society is westernizing, and “feminizing”. More and more people are claiming to advocate feminism irrespective of the fact that most of them wouldn’t even be knowing what it means or even if be aware wouldn’t understand the sole sense of it.
Why to discuss this?
– Well, because it is 2017. Conventionalism and orthodox perspectives need to vanish in order to grow in the contemporary period. Feminism is a good thing as long as it is enjoys unanimity as well as restricted with provisos. Provision of an environment where people, irrespective of their gender, can perform anything that suits them and the society (inclusively of all the elements of the society) is feminism in the true sense. Women walking bare-chested on the streets in the ambit of right to equality (with men) is not feminism.
Feminism wouldn’t be an existing popular practice until we have only the advocacy of equal rights but not the acceptance of equal responsibilities. Feminism is not only about the positive things; it being a demand of an equal share shall be multifaceted and hence not limited. Feminism would exist in the totality when girls wouldn’t have to whisper to the shopkeeper for a pack of sanitary napkins and when a man wouldn’t be asked to give up his seat in the
public transport for a woman. Pseudo-chivalry is anti-feminist.
Now coming back to the topic of contention, adultery.
Why is it so that woman is not punishable under the law? Why she cannot be an abettor, where there is a high possibility of her misleading the MAN out of marriage? Where is the equal demand for responsibility here? Why are the feminists silent on this?
No matter, the relief of divorce will be provided to the aggrieved husband, but is the wife completely free from being the cause of mental agony to the husband? And what of the Man outside the marriage who wasn’t aware of the fact that the woman he was sleeping with was already married because she wanted to keep it latent?
Who is answerable to all such questions which root up when we start rationalizing things and not take things as they are. That’s what feminism talks about, right? –to interrogate.
As responsible citizens I think we should interrogate; united- men and women and all other people who legally do not exist under the eyes of the law that law was created for us, we were not created for the law. If there’s no consonance between the two of us, it’s time for the law to change to adjust to the changed us.
This is not Game of Thrones. Valar Morghulis is not feminist or humane or rational. Neither is Section 497 of the IPC.
“ALL LAWS SHOULD SERVE”
Edited by Mrinaal Datt
Read more about them here.