The Centre on Wednesday filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court against a plea that sought punishment for woman also in a case of adultery.
Under the current Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), only men involved in sexual relations with women other than their wife are charged with adultery.
Section 497 states, " 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 punished as an abettor".
The Centre said that the Section was formulated to safeguard the sanctity of marriage and tempering it would be destructive to the matrimonial board.
The plea that seeks to make men and women equally liable for the crime of adultery was filed by Joseph Shine from Kerala who is employed at Trento in Italy.
In his plea, Shina asks why a married man alone in the case of adultry is charged and not the consenting wife of another in the case.
The plea was heard by a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud who have sought the Centre's response in the case in four weeks.