Key points of article 497


The Chief justice of India Dipak Mishra said adultery can be a ground for divorce but not a criminal offence.

Also, the supreme court of India declared as unconstitutional the penal provision on adultery, saying it was manifestly arbitrary and dents the individuality of women. Before this declaration of the court according to the section 497 it was illegal for anyone to make physical relation with someone else rather than their spouse. The bench compromising chief justice Dipak Mishra and justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra held that Section 479 is no more constitutional. The CJI and Justice Khanwilkar said “We declare Section 497 IPC and Section 198 of CrPC dealing with prosecution of offenses against marriage as unconstitutional.”

Here are the Highlights of the Verdict –

  • CJI Dipak Mishra said “adultery can be a ground for divorce but not a criminal offence.
  • Justice Chandrachud, in a section of judgement titled ‘good wife’, said in the most private zone choice is important and sexuality cannot be dissected from desire. Section 497 deprives women their choice about sexuality and hence it is unconstitutional.
  • The bench held that adultery can be treated as civil wrong for dissolution of marriage.
  • Justice R F Nariman agreed with CJI Mishra and justice Khanwilkar to term section 497 an archaic provision, which is unconstitutional.
  • The five-judge bench headed by CJI Dipak Mishra sait the beauty of the Constitution is that it includes “the I, me and you”.
  • Delivering its judgement, the SC said that unequal treatment of women invites the wrath of the constitution.
  • The Chief Justice of India said that equality is the governing principle of a system and that a husband is not the master of the wife.
  • Justic D Y Chandrachud called adultery offence as a relic of past and said section 497 is destructive of woman’s dignity and self-respect as it treats woman as a chattel of husband.
  • CJI Mishra and justice Khanwilkar said mere adultery cannot be a crime, but if any aggrieved spouse commits suicide because of life partner’s adulterous relation, then if evidence produced, it could be treated as an abatement to suicide.
  • Adultery might not be cause of unhappy marriage, it could be result of an unhappy marriage, the CJI said.
  • The CJI said Section 479 of the IPC is manifestly arbitrary the way it deals with women.
  • Justice Indu Malhotra, the lone woman judges in the constitution bench, too termed Section 497 as unconstitutional.
  • Woman cannot be asked to think how a man or society desires.
  • Section 497 is violation of right to equality and right to equal opportunity to women. It is archaic law and violates Articles 14 and 21 of the Indian Constitution.

So, now in Indian Constitution adultery is not a crime, which scraps the section 497 unconstitutional. Now women are equally rightful to make relation with other man after the marriage as it will not be a constitutional crime.


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