Q.1) Supreme Court is hearing a plea challenging constitutional validity of adultery law. Critically examine the reasons for which adultery law is being challenged.
Answer: Adultery refers to extra-marital voluntary sexual intercourse. Provisions in Section 497 of Indian Penal Code mandates a maximum punishment of five years in prison for the man who had consensual sexual intercourse with a married woman. But it does not punish the married/unmarried/divorced/widowed woman who had consensual sexual intercourse with a married man.
Why adultery law is challenged?
- This is contested as patriarchal, parochial and paternalistic because it considers that women could not be punished as they were vulnerable.
- The section goes in contravention of Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution of India. By punishing only a man for adultery, the law is discriminating against citizens based on “sex”, covered under Article 15.
- It is also alleged that by not putting women in an equally culpable position as men, a licence of sorts was being given to them to commit and abet crime.
- According to Section 198 (1) of CrPC, only “aggrieved party” can bring forth a complaint on cases of adultery. Section 198 (2) clarifies that only the husband of the erring wife is the “aggrieved party” for purposes of Section 198 (1).
- Decisional autonomy involves bodily and sexual autonomy. These are integral to right to privacy. Restricting two consenting individuals from exercising this right runs counter to the Constitution.
The 42nd Law Commission of India Report and the Malimath Committee on Criminal Law Reforms suggested that the section be amended to the effect that both the erring wife and the paramour be held equally liable for adultery.
Q.2) Human trafficking can no longer be understood only as a matter of crime as the newly introduced Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018 on the issue does, it is equally a development issue. Explain.
Answer: Human Trafficking is the trade of humans for the purpose of forced labour, sexual slavery, or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others.
The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018 is being criticised on the following issues.
Why it is not just another crime
- The conviction rate, investigations, prosecutions and convictions in India are “disproportionately low” relative to the scale of human trafficking.
- Its approach to trafficking is based on a prosecution-driven, raid-rescue-rehabilitation model.
- It ignores India’s own rich jurisprudence on labour exploitation and is a highly punitive legislation.
- It fails to respond to the precarious working conditions of millions of Indians.
Why is it a development issue
- Men, women, and children in debt bondage – inherited from previous generations – are forced to work in brick kilns, rice mills, embroidery factories and agriculture.
- Most of India’s trafficking problem is internal and those from the most disadvantaged social strata – lowest caste Dalits, members of tribal communities, religious minorities, and women and girls from excluded groups – are most vulnerable.
- Within India, some are subjected to forced labour in sectors such as construction, steel, garment and textile industries, wire manufacturing for underground cables, biscuit factories, pickling, floriculture, fish farms and ship breaking.
- Traffickers use false promises of employment or arrange sham marriages within India or Gulf states and subject women and girls to sex trafficking.
Q.3) After independence communalism was contained and weakened but not eliminated, for conditions were still favorable for its growth. Explain
Answer: It is a belief that people who follow the same religion have common secular interests i.e. they have same political, economic and social interests.
How it was contained after independence:
- The constitution of India provided a framework for equality, justice to all religions.
- The country was ruled on democracy which granted equal political rights to individuals from all communities to contest elections and to hold public office.
- Minority communities were given fundamental rights under Article 28,29 and 30, according to which they are free to manage their educational institutions and have right to conserve their own culture.
- Since Independence, India has been pursuing the ideal of nation-building based on secularism.
Why it was not eliminated:
- In the absence of Uniform civil code, there is a perception that all communities have divergent and contradictory interests.
- Community based pressure groups are bargaining for their respective communities life AIMPLB against Triple Talaq. These communities compete for power and resources.
- Blind belief in one’s religious principles and lack of tolerance towards others’ religious principles makes religion a source of conflict.
- Politics is also a source because for the sake of vote bank, the policy of appeasement, selection of candidates on the basis of community, sect, sub-sect and caste, and flaring up religious sentiments at the time of elections led to the rise of communalism.
- Socio economic conditions of India are still unequal. Many challenges like poverty, illiteracy and unemployment confront Indian society and are becoming threat for its diversity.
- External elements (including non-state actors) also have a role in worsening the problem of communalism.
This communal violence was witnessed in the form of Anti-Sikh riots of 1984, Babri Masjid destruction and Godhra violence.
Q.4) The language problem was the most divisive issue in the first twenty years of independent India, and it created the apprehension among many that the political and cultural unity of the country was in danger. Discuss.
Answer: Language acted as a divisive issue in India with over the Official Language Act and the linguistic reorganization of states.
Official Language Act:
- The debate started around which language the central govt should use to carry on work and maintain contact with the states. Centre proposed Hindi as the official language of the country.
- This became a controversy as it took the form of opposition to Hindi language and created a conflict between the Hindi speaking and non-Hindi speaking regions of the country.
- The debate was also around the timeframe for switching to Hindi as the official language.
- But protests arouse in Southern states opposing Hindi as the spread of the language didn’t happen as fast as expected.
- Thus the idea of imposing Hindi as the official language was dropped and the use of English continued. Steps are being taken from time to time to increase the usage of Hindi language.
Linguistic reorganisation of States:
- Reorganisation of states based on language was proposed by early congress leaders and it was demanded by states after independence.
- Case for linguistic states as administrative units was based on similar language, customs. It was thought to be feasible for democracy and administration.
- It was challenged by successive commissions like S K Dar commission which quoted that administrative convenience needs to be given priority.
- After successive demands by states, the State Reorganisation Commission recommended the reorganisation of states on linguistic basis.
- Thus the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, punjab, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh were formed based on language basis.
However, the language problem proved that Indian democracy could withstand diversity by accommodating the needs of people.