• The Supreme Court declared that adultery is not a crime and struck down the anti-adultery law, saying it was unconstitutional as it dented the individuality of women and treated them as “a personal possession of husbands”.
  • The apex court’s five-judge Constitution bench was unanimous in striking down Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code dealing with the offence of adultery and holding it as manifestly arbitrary, an archaic law which is violative of the rights to equality and equal opportunity to women.
  • A five-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra said that unequal treatment of women invites the wrath of the Constitution.
  • Adultery was punishable by a maximum five years in jail or fine or both.

Significance of this Judgement:

  • The Adultery law which treated women as mere properties of their husband and with the connivance of husband her wife can have a consensual sex with other.
  • This is seen towards a move for more gender equal society.
  • Having a criminal law in place of family law is like a ‘bull in the china shop’. It is a lopsided law.
  • Adultery is nothing but failure of the marriage


  • The individual liberty of the womens has been upheld by this decision but the greater question is protecting the institution of marriage.
  • Marriage being a mutual agreement if a partner does not remain faithful the other can break it.
  • In India marriage is considered one of the sacrosanct institutions and in marriage both the husband and wife has to complement each other.
  • In Europe, there has been a demographics collapse because of the failure of the institution of marriage.

Gender equal society

  • To move towards we have to educate people from childhood.
  • The Education has to come from home where are basic manners should be taught to address the opposite gender.
  • Schools and Colleges even though technical should inculcate the value of treating women on par with men.
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