Adultery is not a crime; Supreme Court scraps Section 497

India's Supreme Court ruled adultery is not a crime but is still valid grounds for divorce

India's Supreme Court ruled adultery is not a crime but is still valid grounds for divorce

The Supreme Court on Thursday pronounced a landmark ruling on adultery in India.

"It was an outdated law which should have been removed long back", said Rekha Sharma, chairwoman of the National Commission for Women, speaking about the law to Asian News International.

BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli said that every judgement of the SC has to be welcomed because it becomes the law "which we all have to subscribe to".

Section 34 (d) grants the right of a married person to sue his/her spouse on the grounds of adultery, fornication, bigamy, rape or any other unnatural offence.

The Supreme Court has ruled that adultery is no longer a criminal act.

CJI Misra clarified that adultery remained a ground for civil issues, including dissolution of marriage.

The petition was brought by Kerala native Joseph Shine, who had urged the top court to re-examine the validity of section 497 owing to its implied gender bias. It's time to say that husband is not the master of wife.

In Pakistan, it is punishable by up to 25 years in prison while in Bangladesh - both formerly part of British India - men, but not women, can be jailed for five years. We argued that Section 198 of the Cr.P.C violated Article 14 of the Constitution of India because they fail the test of reasonable classification as they carve out arbitrary classifications in favor of the husband. He has presided over a bench that made privacy a fundamental right, and another that struck down a law allowing the Muslim practice of "instant" divorce a year ago, widely seen as improving the rights of Muslim women.

"By today decriminalising adultery completely I think this is something which is just going to add to the pain of women in our country", she said.

The section punished the man for having sex with the wife of another man.

"For a man to be convicted for adultery is very rare because the crime has to be proved conclusively beyond doubt in the court".

In Indonesia's ultraconservative Islamic Aceh province, men and women found guilty of adultery can be whipped 100 times with a cane in public. It should be also noted that many countries around the world also do not hold adultery as a crime.

In the United Kingdom, adultery is not a criminal offence and like many other countries, one of the main reasons given for divorce.

Earlier only a Christian man could file for divorce on the grounds of adultery. Numerous rulings are based on testimony heard earlier this year, but only released now.

Stability of marriages is not an ideal to be scorned.

"If adultery is not a crime, how is this woman even going to file a case against the husband who might desert or abandon her".

The court, rather patronisingly, described the plea as a "crusade by a woman against a woman".

Two different panels on law reforms in 1971 and 2003 recommended that women should also be prosecuted for the offence.

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