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.
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.
Decriminalising of #Adultery is welcome and long overdue. Adultery is now grounds for divorce not crime. The law criminalising men for relations with some other man's wife was patriarchal, assumes wife is husband's property and has no autonomy. Good riddance #AdulteryVerdict
— Kavita Krishnan (@kavita_krishnan) 27 September 2018
When the history of fighting for the rights of men and women seeking love outside the shackles of marriage will be written, Modiji's name will come right on top. #Adultery
— Scotchy (@scotchism) 27 September 2018
J. Chandrachud: Society imposes impossible virtues on a woman. Raises her to a pedestal. Confines her to spaces. Says she should be pure, but has no qualms to rape her, assault her, commit female foeticide, discriminate against her within a home @the_hindu #Adultery
— Krishnadas Rajagopal (@kdrajagopal) 27 September 2018
Excellent judgment. #Adultery is ground for divorce but is not a criminal offence. Fine to end marriage contract because one started loving someone else, but how could a consensual love affair be a criminal offence?
Another prudish Victorian-era colonial law scrapped. #Section497
— Abhijit Majumder (@abhijitmajumder) 27 September 2018
Am so glad that the verdict actually emphasised how it is moral policing over woman. I was getting tired of the men complaining it is unfair to them . No it was unfair to women and am glad it is stuck down #Adultery
— Prabha (@deepsealioness) 27 September 2018
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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