Supreme Court read out crucial verdict on a 158-year-old adultery law! This law 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.
The Supreme Court said the law making adultery an offence was archaic, discriminated against women and a clear violation of the fundamental rights.
Adultery is not a crime even though, “without a shadow of doubt”, it can be grounds for divorce, the Supreme Court said today, scrapping a 158-year law that punished a man for an affair but not the woman, treating her as “property”.
“A man having sexual intercourse with a married woman is not a crime,” said Chief Justice Dipak Misra, calling the Victorian adultery law arbitrary.
Three judges in a five-member constitution bench held that making adultery a crime is retrograde and would mean “punishing unhappy people”.
Most countries have abolished law against adultery, the court said.
“Any law which affects individual dignity, equity of women in a civilised society invites the wrath of the Constitution,” the Chief Justice said, reading out the verdict. “Any provision treating woman with inequality is not constitutional,” Justice Misra said. The wife can’t be treated as chattel, said the court.
Read some top quotes
-Judgment on adultery: CJI Dipak Misra says beauty of the Constitution is that it includes “the I, me and you”.
–Any provision treating women with inequality is not constitutional: CJI.
— Equality is governing parameter of the Constitution: CJI.
— Unequal treatment of women invites wrath of Constitution, says CJI.
— CJI says it’s time to say husband is not the master of woman.
— Section 497 of the IPC is manifestly arbitrary the way it deals with women: CJI.
— Adultery can be treated as civil wrong for dissolution of marriage.
— There can’t be any social licence which destroys a home: CJI
— Adultery can be a ground for civil wrong, a ground for divorce but not criminal offence: CJI.
— — Adultery might not be cause of unhappy marriage, it could be result of an unhappy marriage: CJI.
— We declare Sect 497 IPC and Sec 198 CrPC dealing with prosecution of offences against marriage as unconstitutional: CJI & Justice Khanwilkar.
— Adultery dents individuality of women:
A five-judge constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, had reserved its verdict in August. The hearing in the case by the bench, which also comprised justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, went on for six days and had begun on August 1.
The Centre had defended the law!
While the petitioners contend that the law does not treat men and women equally and should thus be scrapped, the Centre has defended the law saying adultery must remain a crime so that the sanctity of marriage is maintained. “It is an action willingly and knowingly done with the knowledge that it would hurt the spouse, the children and the family. Such intentional action which impinges on the sanctity of marriage and sexual fidelity encompassed in marriage, which forms the backbone of the Indian society, has been classified and defined by the Indian State as a criminal offence in exercise of its Constitution powers,” the Centre had said.
What is section 497?
Drafted in 1860, the colonial era law criminalises adultery with up to five years imprisonment, while defining the perpetrator as “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”
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Source- NDTV, IndiaToday.in , Internet , News18, IndianExpress, Outlook India