The Supreme Court Thursday delivered its historic judgment on the constitutional validity of the penal provision of adultery, saying the Section 497 (Adultery) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) is "unconstitutional".
A five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra in a unanimous judgment said the beauty of the Constitution is that it includes "the I, me and you". The other justices on the bench include RF Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra.
However, adultery can be ground for divorce and a person will have civil remedies for it, the apex court said while decriminalising the 150-year-old law.
Reading the judgment out, CJI Dipak Misra further said that unequal treatment of women in the 150-year-old adultery law invites the wrath of the Constitution.
"Equality is the governing principle of a system. Husband is not the master of the wife," Misra said, reading out the verdict on a petition challenging the validity of Section 497 (Adultery) of IPC.
"Parameters of fundamental rights should include rights of women. Individual dignity important in a sanctified society. The system can't treat women unequally. Women can't be asked to think what a society desires," he said.
"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. Mere adultery can't be a crime unless it attracts the scope of Section 306 (abatement to suicide) of the IPC," Misra added.
Section 497 (Adultery) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) is unconstitutional: Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra pic.twitter.com/gRDrl3TpWy— ANI (@ANI) September 27, 2018
Meanwhile, reacting to the historic judgment, Petitioner's lawyer Raj Kallishwaram said, "It is a monumental judgment. I am extremely happy with the judgment. The people of India should also be happy: Petitioner's lawyer Raj Kallishwaram".
The Supreme Court was dealing with Section 497 of the 158-year-old Indian Penal Code which states: "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."