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Females living in immoral relationships should be treated as offenders
In 1978, Sanjeev Kumar starrer movie 'Pati Patni Aur Woh' enthralled audience whilst highlighting the 'Role' played by 'Woh' in the institution of marriage. "WOH', in todays concept "Wife Outside Home". In the movie, Sanjeev was able to convince his secretary Ranjeeta, that his wife is ill and dying and under the pretext of marrying her, succeeds in seducing her into a relationship.

Adultery Law has provisioned sections 497, 498 in the Indian Penal Code by the British way back in 1860; good '175' years ago. It states:

Section-497- Adultery: "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, and shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine, or with both. In such case, the wife shall not be punishable as an abettor."

Section-498- Enticing or taking away or detaining with criminal intent a married woman: "Whoever takes or entices any woman who is and whom he knows or has reasons to believe to be the wife of any other man, from that man, or from any person having the care of her on behalf of that man, with intent that she may have illicit intercourse with any person or conceals or detains with that intent any such woman, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both".

These laws clearly differentiated between "adulterous act of man" versus "that of women". The "women" could not even be construed to have abetted the crime of 'Adultery'. It was presumed that rich men wielded power of money and authority by virtue of which they were able to seduce impecunious women who had beauty to become their 'WOH' that is "Wife Outside Home", better known as 'concubine'. Such women had no legal persona and had to live life of stigma. Even the children out of such relationships had no inheritance rights.

Lot of water has flown down the river Ganges since enactment of above laws. Post Second World War, lot of women who lost their husbands were forced to move out of house to become 'Bread Earner'. It translated into females also going to schools and colleges to empower themselves to take up meaningful jobs. Technological developments freed women of household drudgery. Slowly cries for "Equality at work place' started taking roots and advent of feminist movements, brought women to streets.

Women of today are rubbing shoulders with men practically in all walks of life. The women are no more playing roles of secretaries but as equal colleagues and at times as 'Boss' too. This had its side effects too. The Institution of Marriage started crumbling the world over. Divorce rates sky rocketed. Children of such single mother/single father acutely suffering with physiological and psychological disorders. De-facto hitting at the very roots of Society and the future generations. India has not remained untouched. It's society is also deeply affected.

The Feminists were able to get a more dignified title 'Wife Outside House' to be known as one, who is "Living in Marriage like Relationships". Lately Supreme Court has upheld rights of such women to Maintenance. Ms Anita Advani, who was reported to be having a 'live in relationship' with late actor Rajesh Khanna, had moved court over the validity of his 'Will'. Albeit claiming 'Right to Property created by Rajesh Khanna".

Before, I move further, I will like to high light a case which I have come across during my travels, and which prompted me to pen down this article. The names are changed to protect identity.

"WOH"- 'Wife Outside Home', a concubine hitherto, has got a socio legal acceptance to be called "Live-in Partner" having rights as any legally wedded wife, who is a simple home maker, who can not compete with well educated, employed, financially sound empowered women, who steals her husband, seeks answers from law makers.

Here story goes, thus:

A woman around '32' years was travelling with her father and brother in a train. She was limping and appeared to have some disability. Let me call her 'Sonia'. I got talking with the family. They narrated to me the following happening in the life of 'Sonia'.

They had a very good family relationship with a family in the neighbourhood. Neighbour's son Rajesh, aged nearly 19 years was a regular visitor to the house. A 'love' bond developed between Sonia and Rajesh. After courtship of nearly '8' years; on completion of his studies Rajesh and Sonia expressed desire to get married.

Sonia's parents had no objection, whereas, Rajesh's father started counting 'How much Jewellery his elder daughter-in-law had brought and how much she was earning'. He put his son for sale, that he will like to be reimbursed with Rs. 20 lac towards upbringing and studies of his son. Certainly a new avatar of 'Dowry Demand'.

The Young Rajesh revolted against his parents and married his love 'Sonia'. Sonia's parents took upon themselves to support the newlyweds. Gradually Rajesh prospered and was chosen by his company to go on deputation to London, UK. Sonia accompanied him. This is where 'WOH" entered in her happy married life. A spinster named Neevedita, who was also deputed to London by her company. She was of same age as Rajesh. Sonia was cautioned by Rajesh's colleagues to save her marriage.

Her suspicions were confirmed and her dream marital house was burgled. She could not complain to anyone. She could only endure the suffering. She tried to reason out with Neevedita, "You are a women as I am. Please do not become cause of breaking my marriage". This brought a thrashing at hands of Rajesh, who all of a sudden started seeing his parents cherished daughter-in-law in 'Neevedita'. The 'Ideal daughter-in-law' for his parents, which 'Sonia' was not and had soured his relationship with his own parents.

On return to India, Neevedita left her job and took up job in the same city so as to be with Rajesh. One fine day, she had locked up Rajesh in her apartment and cut her wrist. She called up Sonia from whom she demanded to agree to give divorce to Rajesh and threatened that otherwise she will kill Rajesh and herself.

By now, Rajesh's loyalty had completely changed towards Neevedita. Rajesh's parents were more than eager to help relationship of Neevedita to prosper and flourish with their son Rajesh as she was earning handsome salary of Rs 1 lalk/pm. Rajesh, together with his parents and Neevedita tried to evict Sonia forcibly from her matrimonial home by use of force. Due to their act of violence, Sonia fell down the stairs and was rendered disabled for life, due to injury on her ankle.

Sonia in tears asked me "Uncle, how can law give such a lady protection. I have no legal recourse. She has stolen my peace, my happiness, my love, my husband and my future. I am only seeing darkness around my future. If my love , my Rajesh could ditch me after 12 years, who will come to support this disabled person, who is left destitute by her husband? Now I am 32 years old, and I am not as educated as Neevedita. I don't know how will I sustain myself once my elder brother marries off and parents are no more.

I had no answer to her questions. Existing laws definitely treat a man and a woman unequally in the institution of marriage. According to these laws:-

As per Existing Laws

The above case before us

Man is always a seducer and the married woman just an innocent and a submissive victim.

Here the role of Neevedita is no less of a seducer man; she has voluntarily caused hurt so to criminally intimidate the legally wedded wife into agreeing to give her husband a divorce.

Wife is no more than a chattel to her husband and a third person had committed the crime of intruding upon his marital possession by establishing a physical relationship with his wife.

Sonia's husband was only support for her life. She had no one to fall back to other than aged parents and elder brother who also has his own responsibilities, once Neevedita intruded in to her married life. How could Law permit Rajesh and Neevedita to do to her what they were doing? Mockery of ethics, moral values and no fear of Social Stigma?

Only the husband of the treacherous woman (or a person who had care of the married woman) is a distressed party and he is liable to file a complaint against the third party.

Why it cannot apply vice-a versa too?

Why can 'Sonia' not be considered as an aggrieved party at the hands of 'Neevedita'

I hope law makers and courts take into account the changed ground reality. There are a number of such cases reported everyday. How such relationships are ruing lives of proverbial home maker a 'women- a house wife'. Should not females living in immoral relationship be treated as offenders?

Have the educated, empowered women got the right to care too hoots about society and law and enter into immoral unethical 'live-In-Relationships". Is not the society witness to birth of new breed of thieves, 'WOH" stealing the peace of a matrimonial home.

Sonia sought answers from me, I had none. If you have, please advise Sonia can do. She has no resources of money to fight legal cases and police says they can not take any action against 'Neevedita'.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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