ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Malimath Committee Is Pro-Women

As a member of the legal fraternity and as a citizen having faith in the expertise, sincerity and commitment of our distinguished jurists, I feel it necessary to comment on the article “Law and ‘Live-in’ Relationships in India” (EPW, 29 September 2012) by Anuja Agrawal, which questions the ability and credibility of the Malimath Committee.

As a member of the legal fraternity and as a citizen having faith in the expertise, sincerity and commitment of our distinguished jurists, I feel it necessary to comment on the article “Law and ‘Live-in’ Relationships in India” (EPW, 29 September 2012) by Anuja Agrawal, which questions the ability and credibility of the Malimath Committee.

The author says that the recommendations of the committee regarding Section 125 CrPC and Section 497 IPC are inconsistent and conflicting in nature and if implemented, a woman who is not the legally wedded wife of a man can claim maintenance from the latter and be charged with adultery at the same time. However, the author has failed to recognise that the committee has commendably ensured that such conflict does not occur. The author says that when the committee recommends that “a wife who has sexual intercourse with a married man should be held guilty of adultery”, it has been vague and ambiguous by not substituting the word “wife” with “woman” and “married man” with “man”. But the committee’s thoughtful use of these two very words expels any vague speculation. The committee has deliberately used the words “wife” and “married man” because when a wife – a legally married woman – engages in sexual intercourse with another (married) man, there is an essential element of “mens rea” accorded to the wife to be held guilty of adultery because here everything else is immaterial (including the knowledge of the marital status of the other man she is involved with) except the fact that she knows that she herself is married but still indulges in the act.

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