Husband Not A Master Of Wife: Supreme Court Scraps 150-Year-Old Adultery Law

Husband Not A Master Of Wife: Supreme Court Scraps 150-Year-Old Adultery Law

In another monumental judgment, a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court unanimously ruled to scrap Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which deals with adultery. Led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, the bench called the law archaic and said that it violates Articles 14 and 21 of the Indian Constitution (right to equality and personal liberty). 

According to the adultery law, a man can be punished for having a sexual relationship with a married woman without the consent of her husband. The petitioners wanted Section 497 of the IPC to be made gender neutral. In India, adultery is a crime and the punishment for the same can be imprisonment for five years, or fine, or both.

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Image Source: Al Jazeera

The bench comprised Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra. The CJI and Justice Khanwilkar said, "We declare Section 497 IPC and Section 198 of IPC dealing with prosecution of offences against marriage as unconstitutional."

Main take aways from the verdict:

The CJI said adultery can be grounds for divorce but not a criminal offence.

It cannot be a crime, however, if an aggrieved spouse commits suicide because of the partner's adulterous relationship, then with evidence it could be treated as an abetment to suicide.

Adultery can be treated as a civil wrong for dissolution of marriage.

Supreme Court also said that the unequal treatment of women invites the wrath of the Constitution.

The five-judge bench said that the beauty of the Constitution is that it includes "the I, me and you."

The CJI also said that equality is the governing principle of a system and that a husband is not the master of the wife and that section 497 of the IPC is manifestly arbitrary the way it deals with women.

Here's how Twitter is celebrating along with the country.

Honestly, the Supreme Court deserves a loud round of applause. First Section 377 and now Section 497 too - India really is moving towards an equal and accepting future and it couldn't make us more proud. 

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