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‘Husband is not master of woman’: What the Supreme Court said in its verdict

Adultery is the second offence to be decriminalised by the top court in 20 days. Early this month, the court had decriminalised gay sex between consenting adults.

india Updated: Sep 27, 2018 13:23 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Verdict on adultery law,Supreme Court Verdict Live,adultery law verdict live
Adultery is the only provision in the penal code that treats men and women differently, for one, because it treats a married woman as the ‘property’ of their husband.(Representative image)

India’s 150-year-old adultery law is “arbitrary”, the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said Thursday as the Supreme Court began delivering its verdict on the law that treats women as the victim and not as an abettor of the offence.

Under Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code, it is an offence if a married man has sex with the wife of another married man without his “connivance” or “consent”. But only men, and not women, can be prosecuted under the adultery law.

The apex court said that unequal treatment of women invites the wrath of the Constitution.

Here are 10 points of the verdict that was delivered by a five-judge bench.

1. Adultery might not be the cause of an unhappy marriage, it could be the result of an unhappy marriage, said CJI Dipak Misra.

2. Adultery law is an archaic law, manifestly arbitrary, and offends the dignity of women.

3. In case of adultery, criminal law expects people to be loyal which is a command which gets into the realm of privacy.

4. Adultery can be ground for civil issues, including dissolution of marriage, but it cannot be a criminal offence.

5. Any provision treating woman with inequality is not Constitutional.

6 . Section gives a license to the husband to use the woman as a chattel.

7 . This is archaic law long outlived it’s purpose.

8 .Curtailing sexual autonomy of a woman is antithetical to the Constitution.

9. Woman can’t be asked to think how a man or society desires.

10. Husband is not the master. Equality is the governing parameter.

First Published: Sep 27, 2018 11:34 IST