For those of who don’t know about adultery, it’s a voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and a person who is not their spouse.
The section 477 of the Indian Penal Court says that “Whoever has sexual intercourse with a person who is a 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.”
Supreme Court on Thursday strikes down the section 477 as a criminal offense which according to the law punishes a man who is in a sexual relationship with a married woman without her husband’s consent.
A five-judge constitution headed by Chief Justice Dipak Mishra, Justice Rohinton Nariman, Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice DY Chandrachud, and Justice Indu Malhotra announced that section 497 IPC is unconstitutional, stating that husband is not the master of his wife. Mere adultery can’t be a crime unless it attracts the scope of section 306 of the IPC, i.e.., abetment of suicide.
“Legal subordination of one sex by another is wrong. Social progression of women & views of Justice Nariman in Triple Talaq case considered. Adultery can be grounds for dissolution of marriage,” said CJI Dipak Misra.
“Equality is the governing principle of a system. Husband is not the master of the wife. Mere adultery can’t be a crime unless it attracts the scope of Section 306 (abetment to suicide) of the IPC.” he added.
Adultery could be a moral wrong towards spouse and family but the question is whether it should be a criminal offense?” said Justice Indu Malhotra.
Earlier this month, the panel also scrapped Section 377, making homosexuality legal. In a matter of only twenty days, the apex court has decriminalized two major criminal offenses.