CJI Dipak Misra said adultery can be a ground for divorce but not a criminal offence
Justice D Y Chandrachud called adultery offence as a relic of past and said section 497 is destructive of woman’s dignity and self respect as it treats woman as a chattel of husband.
NEW DELHI: The
on Thursday declared as unconstitutional the penal provision on
, saying it was manifestly arbitrary and dents the individuality of women.
bench was unanimous in holding
, dealing with the offence of adultery, as unconstitutional and struck down the penal provision. The bench comprising Chief Justice
and Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra held that Section 497 is unconstitutional. The CJI and Justice Khanwilkar said: “We declare Section 497 IPC and Section 198 of CrPC dealing with prosecution of offences against
Here are the main highlights of the verdict:
* CJI Dipak Misra said adultery can be a ground for divorce but not a criminal offence.
* CJI Misra and justice Khanwilkar said mere adultery cannot be a crime, but if any aggrieved spouse commits suicide because of life partner’s adulterous relation, then if evidence produced, it could be treated as an abetment to suicide.
* The bench held that adultery can be treated as civil wrong for dissolution of marriage.
* Delivering its judgement, the SC said that unequal treatment of women invites the wrath of the Constitution.
* The five-judge bench headed by CJI Dipak Misra said the beauty of the Constitution is that it includes “the I, me and you”.
* CJI also said that equality is the governing principle of a system and that a husband is not the master of the wife.
* The CJI said section 497 of the IPC is manifestly arbitrary the way it deals with women.
* Adultery might not be cause of unhappy marriage, it could be result of an unhappy marriage, the CJI said.
* Justice R F Nariman agreed with CJI Misra and justice Khanwilkar to term section 497 an archaic provision, which is unconstitutional.
* Justice D Y Chandrachud called adultery offence as a relic of past and said section 497 is destructive of woman’s dignity and self respect as it treats woman as a chattel of husband.
Watch: SC rules adultery is not a crime
* Justice Chandrachud, in a section of judgement titled ‘good wife’, said in the most private zone choice is important and sexuality cannot be dissected from desire. Section 497 deprives women their choice about sexuality and hence it is unconstitutional.
* Justice Chandrachud added that a woman after marriage does not pledge her sexual autonomy to her husband and depriving her of choice to have consensual sex with any one outside marriage cannot be curbed.
* Justice Indu Malhotra, the lone woman judge in the constitution bench, too termed Section 497 as unconstitutional.
* However, justice Malhotra said adultery is a moral wrong contrasting it with justice Chandrachud’s view that each spouse in marriage don’t mortgage their sexual autonomy to each other.