Supreme Court scraps Adultery law; says it can be ground for divorce but not a criminal offence
Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said adultery may not be the cause of an unhappy marriage but instead the result of an unhappy marriage.
The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down the Adultery Law and said it is not an offence and only personal choice and also dents the individuality of women. The judgement was passed by a five-judge constitution bench and all of them were unanimous with the decision about the law which comes under Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code, by saying it is unconstitutional.
The judgement states that adultery can be considered seriously in case of a divorce but it is not a criminal offence. However, it can be considered a crime if one of the aggrieved spouse commits suicide because of adultery committed by the other, which thus leads to abetment of suicide. Interestingly, the act can also be considered as a civil wrong and can be among the criteria to end a marriage. The Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra also said the law helps in the unequal treatment of women and said a husband is not the master of the wife. He went on to add that adultery may not be the cause of an unhappy marriage but instead the result of an unhappy marriage.
Justice D Y Chandrachud, one among the five judges, said the law is now considered archaic provision and a relic of the past where the woman is treated without respect and dignity. He went on to also say that women have their own choice and sexuality cannot be separated from desire. However, while Judge Indu Malhotra agreed to scrap the law, she said adultery is a moral wrong which interestingly, is against Justice Chandrachud’s statement saying each partner in the marriage does not mortgage their sexual autonomy to each other.