Adultery no more a crime | Timeline

Adultery no longer a crime Supreme Court

Adultery no longer a crime Supreme Court

India's top court has ruled that adultery is no longer a crime, declaring the colonial-era law that punished the offence unconstitutional and discriminatory.

Under the adultery law, only the husband of the woman had the right to file case against the man with whom she commits adultery, but this law won't prevail now.

The court said the law deprived women of dignity and individual choice, and treated them as the property of men.

A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices RF Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra in a unanimous judgement gave the historical verdict.

"Being antithetical to the constitutional guarantees of liberty, dignity and equality, section 497 does not pass constitutional muster", Justice Chandrachud said.

The ministry also referred to a judgment passed by the Supreme Court in the 1985 Smt.

He also noted that no recourse was provided to a woman against her husband who engages in sexual relations outside marriage.

Last August, Joseph Shine, a 41-year-old Indian businessman living in Italy, petitioned the Supreme Court to strike down the law, according to BBC.

Whenever there are matrimonial discords or claims for maintenance, belligerent husbands have used "malicious prosecution on the ground of adultery", Raj said.




Women could not file a complaint under the archaic law nor be held liable for adultery themselves, making it exclusively the realm of men.

"We may repeat at the cost of repetition that if it is treated as a crime, there would be vast intrusion into the extreme privacy of the matrimonial sphere".

In fact, in its first judgement in 1954 it had stated that women could only be a "victim" of adultery and not a perpetrator in the "crime". And, it is time to say that a husband is not the master. "You exact fidelity from a woman but not from a man?"

Under the law, a wife doesn't enjoy any right to prosecute the adulterous husband, or the woman who has indulged in sexual intercourse with the husband. She however said that adultery is a moral wrong.

"It is a big victory for women's status and position within marriage and within families" said Jayna Kothari, an attorney and the executive director of the Center for Law and Policy Research in Bangalore. Adultery presently entails imprisonment for a term which may extend up to five years, or fine, or both.

"Protecting marriage is the responsibility of the couple involved".

Misra is stepping down as chief justice next week when he turns 65, the mandatory retirement age for Supreme Court judges. Some northern states in Nigeria practise capital punishment for adultery, rape and homosexuality. Hon'ble Supreme Court should have thought that this decision would end up the institution of marriage.

"The stability of marriage is not an ideal to be scorned", a judge said in 1985.

"Dichotomy is manifest (in Section 497)" as "husband can only have control over his emotion and cannot ask wife to do this or that", it had told the Centre's counsel, Pinki Anand.

Recommended News

  • Dallas police fire officer who fatally shot man in his apartment

    Dallas police fire officer who fatally shot man in his apartment

    She told investigators that she had just ended a shift when she returned in uniform to the South Side Flats apartment complex. Dallas police officer Amber Guyger , who killed Botham Shem Jean after entering his apartment, was sacked Monday.
    Gold miners Randgold and Barrick agree $18bn all-share merger

    Gold miners Randgold and Barrick agree $18bn all-share merger

    Canada's Barrick Gold is buying Randgold Resources, creating the world's biggest gold miner with a value of about $18bn (£14bn). The new company will keep the Barrick name and be listed in NY and Toronto, while Randgold's London listing will be cancelled.
    Indian Navy's Abhilash Tomy injured, but safe after storm hits yacht

    Indian Navy's Abhilash Tomy injured, but safe after storm hits yacht

    Both Tomy and McGuckin are some 1,900 miles west of Cape Leeuwin, West Australia, the race organisers said. Indian navy spokesman Captain DK Sharma told Sky News: "He is conscious, he can talk, he's been rescued".
  • Meghan Markle stuns Britain by shutting her own auto door

    But her simple gesture sparked a huge debate on social media about whether she broke royal protocol by closing her own auto door. But some royal watchers reckon that Meghan is purposefully choosing black ensembles in a bid to stay out of the limelight.

    Tropical Storm Kirk makes a comeback

    Some flash-flooding is likely in low-lying areas, thus, residents are urged to be on the alert and take all necessary precautions. Rainfall accumulations of at least 2 to 4 inches (50 to 100 millimetres) are possible between Wednesday night and Friday morning.
    Bill Cosby to be locked up immediately after Monday Sentence

    Bill Cosby to be locked up immediately after Monday Sentence

    The answers will begin to emerge Monday, when the 81-year-old comedian appears in court in Pennsylvania for his sentencing. But prosecutors are expected to paint him as a serial and unrepentant sexual predator, who has never admitted wrongdoing.
  • Delta blames 'technology issue' for ground stop

    Delta blames 'technology issue' for ground stop

    Earlier the company issued a groundstop as its IT teams worked to address a technology issue impacting some of its systems. Eastern time that its crews had "restored all IT systems after a technology issue briefly affected some of our systems".
    Luka Modric wins Federation Internationale de Football Association  award for best men's player

    Luka Modric wins Federation Internationale de Football Association award for best men's player

    This trophy is not just mine but for all my teammates from Real Madrid , my Croatia national teammates, my coaches and my family. This prize has been welcomed by France global Wendy Renard, who plays for Lyon and is a Champions League victor .
    Salah strike caps off best start in Liverpool history

    Salah strike caps off best start in Liverpool history

    He headed home Liverpool's second, after Xherdan Shaqiri's deflected cross resulted in Wesley Hoedt's own goal, which was his first anywhere since November.
  • Oil eases, but Iran sanctions keep Brent above $80 a barrel

    Rouhani also did not rule out talks, but a change in USA policy will be needed first. Trump's decision to pull out of the global nuclear accord with Tehran in May.
    Clemson Senior QB Kelly Bryant Transferring After Being Replaced By Freshman

    Clemson Senior QB Kelly Bryant Transferring After Being Replaced By Freshman

    I certainly could have started him this week, which would have limited his options, but that's not how we operate here. One school that could be a landing spot is Arkansas who is led by former Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris .
    Aaron Rodgers Hoping Knee Doesn't Get Worse

    Aaron Rodgers Hoping Knee Doesn't Get Worse

    Packers coach Mike McCarthy argued with two officials about the call, even chasing one along the sideline as he backpedaled away. It wasn't game changing like last week because we got the stop, but it is killing the fun in watching D. "It's sloppy right now".

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.