‘Adultery valid ground for divorce, not criminal prosecution’: SC strikes down the arbitrary Sec 497

In a landmark judgement, a five-judge bench of Supreme Court of India has declared section 497 of the Indian Penal Code unconstitutional, calling it “manifestly arbitrary”.

The section reads as follows:

Adultery.—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 punishable as an abettor.

- Advertisement - - Article resumes -

Section 497 is widely considered a lopsided law, as it is gender biased. Under this law, on one hand, only married men can be prosecuted for adultery, not a married woman. On the other hand, this section applies only if a man has sex with a married woman without the consent of that woman’s husband. This implies that the husband has ownership over his woman who can permit her to have a physical relationship with another man.

The SC judgement says that Section 497 IPC affects the right to life of a woman under Article 21 of the constitution of India. Court has noted that adultery can be ground for divorce but it can’t be a criminal offence. Delivering the verdict, the court said that Adultery dents the individuality of women, and husband is not the master of his wife. Court also noted that adultery is not a criminal offence in many countries, and many countries have abolished laws which made it a crime.

Reading out the judgment, Chief Justice Misra said, “Any provision of law affecting individual dignity and equality of women invites the wrath of not constitution. It’s time to say that the husband is not the master of the wife. Legal sovereignty of one sex over other sex is wrong”.

The court noted that the adultery law applies only if a man has relation outside marriage with another married woman, it does not apply if the relationship with an unmarried woman. The court asked why the sanctity of a marriage is not affected if an unmarried is involved, calling it arbitrary.

The judgement says that adultery is a matter of privacy and it is not a criminal offence. Court has said that section 497 of IPC violates Articles 14 and 15 of the constitution and therefore this law is unconstitutional. According to the court, section 497 deprives a woman of agency and autonomy and dignity, and the law is actually a codified rule of patriarchy, which denied married women autonomy.

Along with Section 497, the apex court has also struck down the section 198(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code, which dealt with adultery.

Court has clarified that adultery will be a valid ground for divorce. And if an aggrieved spouse commits suicide as a result of adultery, the adulterous partner will be prosecuted for abetment of suicide under Section 306 of the IPC.

Share and Support:
Support OpIndia by paying for content

Most read articles recently

Statue of all ironies: Pritish Nandy uses example of fake news to spread fake news

Pritish Nandy shared a fake image which was earlier shared by Youth Congress leader

West Bengal: TMC workers ‘purify’ the ground with Gangajal and cow dung after BJP holds a rally in Cooch Behar

TMC workers sprinkled Gangajal after applying cow dung on the ground where the rally was held.

Fact check: Did BJP President Amit Shah and PM Modi call Baniyas cheaters and accuse them of profiteering?

Earlier, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani had also been accused of making a casteist remark, which turned out to be a Photoshopped image

2018 Assembly Elections: Here are the BJP internal survey numbers

The final results of all states are to be released on 11th December.
Image Source: Zee News

Sidhu knew of the opening before Imran Khan was sworn in, Kartarpur a bigger conspiracy by ISI: Captain Amarinder Singh

Pakistan General Bajwa had revealed the Kartarpur corridor news to Navjot Singh Sidhu even before Imran Khan was sworn in as their PM, Punjab CM Singh indicated “a bigger conspiracy" hatched by the Pak Army.

Uttar Pradesh: Samajwadi party leader detained after being caught on camera assaulting BJP spokesperson

Political leaders who are the so-called representatives of our country have often been seen indulging in such pettiness

Raghuram Rajan backed yet-to-be functional Krea University among 19 new institutes to get ‘Institute of Eminence’ tag

The earlier list which featured yet-to-be-functional Jio Institute was announced, the HRD ministry was mercilessly mocked
Vijay Mallya to be extradited

Big victory for India: UK court orders Vijay Mallya’s extradition who is wanted in India for a Rs. 9000 crore scam

The liquor baron, Vijay Mallya, is wanted in India in connection with an alleged scam worth Rs. 9000 crores and is to be extradited to India.

After stopping BJP’s rath yatra, West Bengal government allows Hindu-hater Bangladeshi Maulana to address meetings in the state

BJP's rath yatra banned, Bangladeshi Islamic preacher welcomed in West Bengal

25 Lakh fake beneficiaries found in Anganwadis of UP, Maharashtra and Assam

The Ministry of Women and Child Development had ordered the survey of Anganwadi Schemes after the crackdown of Assam government on ghost beneficiaries.

Latest articles

Connect with us

125,515FansLike
97,329FollowersFollow
6,059SubscribersSubscribe

Don't miss these