Women Are Not ‘Chattel,’ Says India’s Supreme Court In Striking Down Adultery Law

India’s Supreme Court has struck down a colonial-era law that made adultery illegal, calling it arbitrary and saying it is unconstitutional because it “treats a husband as the master.”

…Noting that the law is singular in the penal code for treating men and women differently, Chief Justice Dipak Misra said, “The adultery law is arbitrary, and it offends the dignity of a woman.”

He said adultery is grounds for divorce, but not jail time.

…Earlier this month, the court struck down a long-standing ban on gay sex. Last year, the justices outlawed the summary “triple talaq” divorce for Muslim men, and in a country with more child brides than anywhere in the world, the high court ruled that sex with an underage wife constitutes rape.

…The ruling to decriminalize adultery had been strongly opposed by the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose center-right coalition is led by the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP. Modi advocated amending the law to make it gender-neutral, while maintaining adultery as a criminal offense.

Women Are Not ‘Chattel,’ Says India’s Supreme Court In Striking Down Adultery Law : NPR

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