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Musings From Abroad

Adultery no longer a crime in India

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Adultery is no longer a crime, India’s Supreme Court has ruled. In doing so, it declared a colonial-era law that punished the offence with jail time unconstitutional and discriminatory against women.

The more than century-old law prescribed that any man who slept with a married woman without her husband’s permission had committed adultery, a crime carrying a five-year prison term.

A petitioner had challenged the court to strike down the law, describing it as arbitrary and discriminatory against women.

“Thinking of adultery from a point of view of criminality is a retrograde step,” unanimously declared the five-judge bench of the Supreme Court.
Women could not file a complaint under the archaic law nor be held liable for adultery themselves, making it solely the realm of men.

The court said it deprived women of dignity and individual choice and “gives license to the husband to use women as a chattel”.

“It disregards the sexual autonomy which every woman possesses and denies agency to a woman in a matrimonial tie,” said Supreme Court Justice D. Y. Chandrachud.

“She is subjugated to the will of her spouse.”

Read also: European Parliament to punish Hungary for erosion of democracy

It was the second time this month the court overturned Victorian-era laws governing the sexual choices of India’s 1.25 billion citizens.

Earlier this month, the court struck a ban on gay sex introduced by British rulers in 1861.

The bench argued that Section 377 had become “a weapon for harassment” of homosexuals and “history owes an apology to the members of this community and their families”.

On adultery, government lawyers argued it should remain a crime as it threatens the institution of marriage, and caused harm to children and families.
But in its ruling, the court said extramarital affairs — while still a valid ground for divorce — were a private matter between adults.

In 1954, the court upheld adultery as a crime arguing “it is commonly accepted that it is the man who is the seducer, and not the woman”.

But in their ruling on Thursday, the judges said this narrative no longer applied, noting also that Britain did away with its own laws penalising adultery long ago.

“Man being the seducer and women being the victim no longer exits. Equality is the governing principle of a system. Husband is not the master of the wife,” the verdict added.

Musings From Abroad

Swiss firm, ABB, gets $4.3 million fine over bribery case in South Africa

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Judicial authority in Switzerland has fined engineering and technology group ABB, the sum of 4 million Swiss francs ($4.3 million) in connection with a bribery case in South Africa.

According to the country’s Attorney General, the fine on ABB is for “not having taken all necessary and reasonable organisational provisions in order to prevent bribery payments to foreign officials in South Africa”.

The group was found guilty of improper payments and other compliance issues at the Kusile power station after a wide-scale investigation into state corruption concluded in June 2022.

Earlier in the week, ABB and South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) agreed that the company will pay reparations for its involvement in state corruption.

According to a statement by the NPA, the company agreed to pay 2.5 billion rands ($144.51 million) in punitive reparations to South Africa within 60 days from the first day of December.

The reparation is in addition to 1.6 billion rand ($92.48 million)the company paid back to South African state power utility Eskom in 2020.

The Central Europe country has been fingered in lots of corruption cases involving African countries.

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Musings From Abroad

United States: Appeal court rejects President Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan

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President Joe Biden’s plan to cancel student loan debt has suffered a new setback as a federal appeals court on Wednesday refused to support it.

A three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit in Wednesday’s brief order declined to put Pittman’s ruling on hold while the administration appealed his decision, but the court directed that the appeal be heard on an expedited basis.

The court declined to put on hold a Texas judge’s ruling that said President Biden’s move was unlawful.

President Biden had requested to pause a judge’s Nov. 10 order vacating the $400 billion student debt relief program in a lawsuit pursued by a conservative advocacy group.

President Joe Biden announced plans earlier this year to cancel $10,000 of student loan debt for borrowers who qualify and extend the federal student loan payment pause until the end of the year.

As of the fourth quarter of 2021, the average federal student loan debt balance in the United States was $37,787 while the total average balance (including private loan debt) may be as high as $40,780.

The US Department of Education had already approved requests from 16 million to about 26 million Americans that applied for student loan forgiveness.

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