September 27, 2018:
On Thursday, Supreme Court delivered an unanimous verdict with all the Five Judges concurring on a crucial 150-year-old Adultery Law that considers punishment only to a man and not a married woman for an affair by treating her as a victim and not as an abettor of the offence.
Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra said, “Adultery Law is Arbitrary. A man having sexual intercourse with a married woman is not a crime. The beauty of the constitution is that it includes the I, me and you. Any law which affects individual dignity, equity of women in a civilized society invites the wrath of the Constitution.”
Section 497 deprives Women of dignity and that Women are treated as property of her husband.
Apex Court enunciated that any provision treating women with inequality is not constitutional and it’s time to say that husband is not the master of woman.
Adultery will remain a ground for divorce though as clarified by the bench.
The five-member Constitution Bench said making adultery a crime is retrograde and would mean “punishing unhappy people”.
The law on adultery in India punishes any man who has an affair with a married woman “without the consent or connivance of” her husband, with five years in jail or fine or both.
Chief Justice further added,”There can’t be any social licence which destroys a home. The wife can’t be treated as chattel and it’s time to say that husband is not the master of woman.”
The court noted that most countries have abolished laws against adultery.
Centre though had defended the law saying adultery must remain a crime so that the sanctity of marriage can be protected, after a petition called for the law to be scrapped as it does not treat men and women equally.
In earlier hearings, the Supreme Court had questioned the government how the law preserved the “sanctity” of marriage when the extramarital affair becomes non-punishable if the woman’s husband stands by her.
The Chief Justice said today that adultery might not be the cause of an unhappy marriage; it could be the result of an unhappy marriage.
The Bench remarked, “In case of adultery, criminal law expects people to be loyal which is a command which gets into the realm of privacy,”
Earlier, the Supreme Court upheld the law against adultery thrice. Last year, it said the laws on adultery treat a woman as her husband’s subordinate and time has come for society to realize that a woman is as equal to a man in every respect.
Here are some quick points of Supreme Court’s Verdict on Adultery:
Here are 10 points of the verdict that was delivered by a five-judge bench.
1. Section 497 (Adultery) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) is unconstitutional.
2 . Section gives a license to the husband to use the woman as a chattel.
3 . This is archaic law long outlived it’s purpose.
4. Does not square with constitutional morality.
5 .Curtailing sexual autonomy of a woman is antithetical to the Constitution.
6 . If act is treated as an offence it would amount to punish those unhappy in marital relationship.
7. Any system treating a woman with indignity invites the wrath of Constitution.
8. Woman can’t be asked to think how a man or society desires.
9. Husband is not the master. Equality is the governing parameter.
10. Mere adultery can’t be a crime, unless it attracts the scope of Section 306 (abetment to suicide) of the IPC.