Adultery and Aadhaar
I feel the Supreme Court, is our last bastion of hope; Justice Chandrachud is the Mahendra Singh Dhoni of the law
Oh boy, the Supreme Court has really been at it the last fortnight. Decisions, ordinances, declarations, decrees, things that have been in our Constitution, our consciousness for years, boom, knocked down, null and void.
Started with triple talaq, then LGBT, but this last week, suddenly the many M'lords went into overdrive. Their gavels became sledgehammers. Aadhaar, adultery, women allowed into Sabarimala temple, Nana Patekar arrested for sexual comments against Tanushree Dutta; Okay, strike the last one. All the remaining overturned, amended, made more powerful.
I feel the SC, is our last bastion of hope; Justice Chandrachud is the Mahendra Singh Dhoni of the law.
But here's my thing, my big point, dear reader. I'm someone who feels he kind of knows English, matlab mera degree hai in BA Literature; it is my first language; I write in Angrezi — but I just don't understand legalese, the language of law.
It was a language left to us by the British, but most of it sounds like sentences from a French-to-English dictionary. Take the adultery ruling, for example. Okay, I get this part, that adultery is no longer a criminal offence. But now, it goes into the 'Huh? Matlab? Means what' terrain — Yanni ke, tell me if you understand this sentence – "The Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional that 'whoever has sexual intercourse with a person who is 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.'"
I mean, it isn't Latin, it isn't Greek, I recognise most words. Just tell me what I should do with this information. I call up the hubby, "Hey bro, I'm kind of, like, okay, I fancy your spouse, can I, um, you know, may I, as the Bible would say, lie with her?" And, if he says "Yes," all is well, and if he says, "No way," would that make me an adulterer?
And do I have to be single? What if I'm married, does that make me a double adulterer? What if my wife wants to sue me, matlab, the hubby of the lady I want to 'lie with' gives me permission, but my wife takes offence?
Which brings me to my second point. Legal documents: ever tried reading one, dear reader?
Again it is English. You will recognise words like 'and' and 'hitherto' and 'whomsoever' and 'herein' and 'wherein' and 'hereunder' — and then it becomes Shakespearean, and words like 'bequeath' creep into the system. Going to any of our law courts here in Mumbai city is a tragicomedy in itself. First, you're standing in this Art Deco structure built during the British era, invaded by paan stain with floors last swept in the '50s. And men in ill-fitting, black suits, holding huge files with red thread, talk of 'bequeathing' properties and 'indemnity bonds' and 'appurtenances.'
Oh boy, this week, the courts have reigned supreme. Women have become a tad more powerful. Time for the law to turn its attention to #MeToo.
Rahul daCunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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