Adultery verdict: Relief for some 'wronged' husbands

The Supreme Court bench also held that adultery would continue to be treated as a civil wrong and can be ground for dissolution of marriage. File photo

Over the last 10 years, he lost custody of his child, was fired from two jobs and suffered huge mental trauma after his wife registered a case against him on charges of adultery.

The charges were false, said Ashok Dixit, and the harassment only too real.

On Thursday, when the Supreme Court verdict declared that adultery is not a crime, the 32-year-old IT professional from Pune, who has spent over Rs 4 lakh on legal consultations, said he was relieved but also troubled.

"The judgement brings me relief but what about the years of harassment and trauma that I went through," he said.

Kumar Ramesh* has a similar story to tell.

He said his wife slapped a case of adultery against him when he found out about her affair.

"I am happy that finally a gender-neutral decision has been taken but I have gone through so much stress. I wish the decision had come earlier," the 35-year-old doctor from Delhi said.

A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra was unanimous in striking down Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code dealing with the offence of adultery, holding it manifestly arbitrary, archaic and violative of the rights to equality and equal opportunity to women.

The judgement received a mixed response from husbands. While some called it empowering, many said it would make their life worse.

Dixit and Ramesh welcomed it, but some 'wronged husbands' said the verdict has washed away many years of their work.

Like Chaitanya Gowda, who claimed his wife was having an affair and he had been collecting evidence against her and her lover for the last eight years. But that case, which was to have been filed by the lover's wife, is no longer valid with the court decriminalising adultery.

The 45-year-old from Bangalore said his wife has accused him of domestic violence and demanding dowry.

According to him, the Supreme Court verdict would make life more miserable for people like him.

"Earlier at least the wife of the paramour was able to file a case against him but now my wife and her lover will get a free hand to do what they want," he said.

Gowda said he has not been allowed to see his child for eight years.

Debjyoti Das, 42, who works in the IT industry, said his wife had multiple affairs and he, too, had gathered evidence against her alleged lover for whom she had left him.

"The evidence I gathered for a period of over two years have been wasted but it all went down the drain after the judgement on Thursday," Das, who has a 10-year-old son, said.

According to Rajesh Vakharia, activist and president of Save the Family Foundation, the apex court verdict was taken in the name of women's empowerment but there is also the issue of family empowerment.

"It cannot be one-sided," he said.

Kumar Jahagirdar, another activist fighting for the rights of the men, said domestic violence should be made gender neutral and there should be counselling before marriages to check compatibility between couples.

The Supreme Court bench also held that adultery would continue to be treated as a civil wrong and can be ground for dissolution of marriage.

There can't be any social licence which destroys a home, the chief justice said.

Section 497 of the 158-year-old IPC says: "Whoever has sexual intercourse with a person who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the wife of another man, without the consent or connivance of that man, such sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape, is guilty of the offence of adultery."

(*Names changed to protect identity)

ALSO READ: SC adultery verdict is 'anti-women': Swati Maliwal
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Adultery verdict: Relief for some 'wronged' husbands

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