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Supreme Court Ruling: Husband is not the master of wife



Supreme Court Ruling: Husband is not the master of wife: Details, Highlights

The Supreme Court of India on 27th September 2018 struck down a 158-year-old penal provision in the Indian Penal Code that made adultery a criminal offense.

The Supreme Court decision comes by a five-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud, and Indu Malhotra.

The Supreme Court bench unanimously held Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code, which deals with the offence of adultery, as unconstitutional and arbitrary.

The Supreme Court said that Adultery can be a civil wrong and a ground for divorce but it cannot be a criminal offense.

The Supreme Court said Section 497 is violative of right to equality and right to equal opportunity to women and disallows them from making their own choices.

The Supreme Court pronounced four sets of concurring Judgements to declare as unconstitutional the penal provision on adultery and Section 198 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) that deals with prosecution of offenses against marriage.

About Section 497 of IPC

The section says that "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 offense of rape, is guilty of the offense of adultery."

The offense of adultery entailed a maximum punishment of five years or fine or both.

Section 198(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure

The section allows the initiation of criminal proceedings for Adultery only at the instance of the husband of the adulteress, but the wife of the man party to the act of adultery cannot institute a complaint.


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