Top Court says married women have sexual autonomy like right to say 'no'
A woman, living in an almost broken relationship, does not lose her sexual autonomy just because she was married, the judge said.
If a woman has right to say 'no' then it has to be accepted that she also does not lose her "sexual autonomy" after marriage, a Supreme Court judge today said.
Justice D Y Chandrachud, who was part of a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra examining the penal law on adultery, also said that if a person indulges in an adulterous relationship then this itself was an indicator of a "broken marriage".
"As far as criminalization or decriminalization of adultery as an offense is concerned, it is in one compartment. Adultery cannot cease to be a ground for seeking divorce by an estranged couple in a court of law," the apex court said.
"Mental cruelty is a ground for grant of decree of divorce. The question is whether adultery will tantamount to mental cruelty or not," the CJI said, adding that rights like sexual autonomy, right to choice and right to human dignity are different from each other.
A married person cannot have sexual autonomy to have an adulterous relationship, the Chief Justice said, adding that adultery is a consensual act, but a woman cannot say that she has a fundamental right to choose partner outside the marriage.
Moreover, sexual autonomy, like other rights, cannot be absolute and can be subjected to reasonable restrictions, he said.
Justice Chandrachud gave the example of women, working as domestic help in Maharashtra, and said while they work, their husbands sit idle and moreover, they have been beaten and forced to live in broken relationships.
The CJI, at the fag end of the hearing, said that if the offense of adultery is retained by making it as gender neutral by the government then it would add "another few lakh more litigations".
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)