A 158-year law has now come to an end that punished a man for an affair but not the woman
The Hush Post: The Supreme Court has ruled that adultery is no longer a crime in India. Making adultery a criminal offence is both irrational and unconstitutional, the bench remarked.
“A man having sexual intercourse with a married woman is not a crime,” said Chief Justice Dipak Misra. “It interferes with the sexual autonomy of an individual, ” said Justice DY Chandrachud.
With the ruling, a 158-year-old law has come to an end that punished a man for an affair but not the woman, treating her as “property”.
Nonetheless, the five-member constitution bench said it can be grounds for divorce “without a shadow of doubt.”
The Chief Justice said that adultery might not be the cause of an unhappy marriage. It could be the result of an unhappy marriage, he said. The Judges said making adultery a crime would mean “punishing unhappy people.”
“There can’t be any social licence which destroys a home,” the Chief Justice said. The wife can’t be treated as a possession and it’s time to say that husband is not the master of woman, he added.
The law on adultery in India punishes any man who has an affair with a woman “without the consent or connivance of” her husband, with five years in jail or fine or both.
The Centre had defended the law saying adultery must remain a crime so that the sanctity of marriage can be protected, after a petition called for the law to be scrapped as it does not treat men and women equally.
The court noted that most countries have abolished laws against adultery.
The Supreme Court had upheld the law against adultery thrice.