New Delhi, Sep 27: The Supreme Court Thursday declared as unconstitutional the penal provision on adultery, saying it was manifestly arbitrary and dents the individuality of women.
A five-judge Constitution bench was unanimous in holding Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code, dealing with the offence of adultery, as unconstitutional and struck down the penal provision.
Section 497 of the 158-year-old IPC 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.”
The offence of adultery entailed a maximum punishment of five years, or with fine, or both.
The bench comprisin Chief Justice Dipak Misra 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 marriage as unconstitutional”.
Justice Nariman termed Section 497 as archaic law and concurred with the CJI and Justice Khanwilkar, saying that the penal provision is violative of the rights to equality and equal opportunity to women.
Justice Chandrachud said Section 497 destroys and deprives women of dignity.
Justice Indu Malhotra, the lone woman judge on the bench, said that Section 497 is clear violation of fundamental rights granted in the Constitution and there is no justification for continuation of the provision.
Adultery might not be cause of unhappy marriage, it could be result of an unhappy marriage, the CJI said.
The CJI said unequal treatment of women invites the wrath of the Constitution(Agencies)

Your Comments