The Supreme Court of India on Thursday morning struck down the 150-year-old adultery law by saying that it is not a crime anymore. The Adultery Law considered a man punishable for having an affair but not the woman. Though the Supreme Court said that without any doubt, it can be a reason for dissolution of a marriage.
Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra today said, “A man having sexual intercourse with a married woman is not a crime.” A five-member constitution bench comprising three judges said that criminalising adultery would mean punishing unhappy people.
As per Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code, a Victorian provision mandated, “Whoever has sexual intercourse with a person who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the wife of another man, without the consent or connivance of that man, such sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape, is guilty of the offence of adultery.”
After a petition was made to decriminalise adultery law to treat men and women equally, the Centre had defended the law by stating that adultery must remain a crime so that marriages are protected. It had also said that adultery causes mental and physical harm to the spouse and the family.
Misra said, “Husband is not the master of woman. Any law that affects individual dignity, equality of women in a civilised society, invites the wrath of the Constitution.”
However, legal experts are of the view that the absence of an adultery law would mean an absolute decriminalisation of consensual extra-marital sex. This in turn, may hamper the equilibrium of conjugal relationships. For now, it’s no more a crime to have sexual intercourse with someone else’s wife!