Adultery law verdict: SC Strikes Down Section 497

Legal National

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously declared that Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code which deals with adultery. A bench of CJI Dipak Misra, Justices Rohinton Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra. SC strikes down Section 497.

The five-judge Supreme Court bench is unanimous in ruling that Section 497 of the IPC that makes adultery a criminal offence is unconstitutional. Calling the law archaic and saying that it violates Articles 14 and 21 of the Indian Constitution the justices said that: “Adultery can be ground for civil issues including dissolution of marriage but it cannot be a criminal offence.”

Adultery will remain a ground for divorce, the bench added. The top court said society has two standards for judging sexual behaviour. “Make them as objects able to being possessed depriving dignity and privacy to women. Respect for sexual autonomy is founded on equality between partners,” the court said.

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 Centre wants adultery to continue in the Indian Penal Code as it ensures the sanctity of the marriage and is for the public good.

On August 8, the court asked the Centre “what public good” the law on adultery serves as adultery is not an offence if a woman’s husband approves of such a relationship.

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