Supreme Court bench consisting of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Rohinton Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra unanimously struck down Section 497 of the IPC, which had criminalised adultery, Bar and Bench has reported.
Section 497 says, “ 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.”
“Any provision treating woman with inequality is not Constitutional”,CJI Dipak Misra remarked. He said that the law was violative of Article 14 of the Constitution, which promises equality. Further, he said that adultery can be a ground for divorce, but not a criminal offence.
“Ancient notions of man being perpetrator and woman being victim no longer holds good”, Justice Nariman said. He held that Section 497 was a violation of Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution. Meanwhile, Justice Chandrachud said that Section 497 was intended to control sexuality of women.
Section 497 of IPC, which was in force until today, criminalised the offence of adultery, but only a man was liable to be punished for the offence. If the husband of the woman gave his consent for sexual intercourse with another man, it would not be considered a crime, according to this section.
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