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The apex court on Thursday (August 2) observed that if a married woman makes a relationship with a married man, then why should only man be guilty? The woman is also equally responsible.

A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra made this observation while hearing a petition challenging the constitutional validity of Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The bench also comprising Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra while expressing surprise also said that if unmarried man engages in sexual intercourse with married woman then also it is not adultery.

“Man and woman are equally responsible for preserving the sanctity of marriage,” the bench said.

The bench further noted Section 397 was a strange provision under the IPC in which only one party (man) is considered guilty.

—India Legal Bureau

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