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Supreme Court strikes down adultery as an offence

The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a colonial-era anti-adultery law, saying it was unconstitutional, dented the individuality of women and treated them as “chattel of husbands” and declared that adultery is not a crime. The Supreme Court delivered a unanimous verdict with all the five judges concurring on a crucial 150-year-old adultery law that considers punishment only to a man and not a married woman for an affair by treating her as a victim and not as an abettor of the offence. “Adultery law arbitrary,” said the Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra.

Section 497 deprives women of dignity and that women are treated as a property of her husband. The court said any provision treating women with inequality is not constitutional and it’s time to say that husband is not the master of a woman. Adultery will remain a ground for divorce, the bench added. The centre had, in its defence, claimed that the law should remain valid as it protects the sanctity of marriage. The petition filed against the law was done so on the premise that the law does not treat men and women equally. A five-judge constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, had reserved its verdict in August.

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