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'Husband is not the master of woman': What the judges said on adultery law

Last updated on: September 27, 2018 13:12 IST
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On Thursday, the Constitution Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, along with Justices Rohinton Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra declared as unconstitutional the penal provision on adultery, saying it was manifestly arbitrary and dents the individuality of women.

Here are highlights from their judgments.

Judgment by CJI Dipak Misra on behalf of himself and Justice AM Khanwilkar:

Unequal treatment of women invites wrath of Constitution


Equality is governing parameter of the Constitution

Any provision treating women with inequality is not constitutional

It's time to say husband is not the master of woman

Section 497 of the IPC is manifestly arbitrary the way it deals with women

Adultery can be treated as civil wrong for dissolution of marriage

There can't be any social licence which destroys a home

Adultery should not be a criminal offence 

Adultery can be a ground for civil wrong, a ground for divorce but not criminal offence

Adultery dents individuality of women

Adultery might not be cause of unhappy marriage, it could be result of an unhappy marriage

We declare Sec 497 IPC and Sec 198 CrPC dealing with prosecution of offences against marriage as unconstitutional

Judgment by Justice Rohinton Nariman: 

Section 497 is violative of right to equality and right to equal opportunity to women

Section 497 violates Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution

Section 497 an archaic law, manifestly arbitrary 

Judgment by Justice DY Chandrachud:

Law deprives married women the agency of consent

A woman loses her voice, autonomy after entering marriage and manifest arbitrariness is writ large in Section 497

Section 497 offends sexual freedom of women

Autonomy is intrinsic in dignified human existence and Section 497 denudes women from making choices

Legislature has imposed a condition on sexuality of women by making adultery as offence

Section 497 is denial of substance of equality

Section 497 destructive of women's dignity, self-respect as it treats women as chattel of husband

Section 497 is held to be unconstitutional as adultery is manifestly arbitrary 

Judgment by Justice Indu Malhotra:

Section 497 is clear violation of Fundamental Rights granted in Constitution

No justification for continuation of Section 497 of IPC

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