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Married woman doesn’t pledge sexual autonomy to her husband: SC

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New Delhi, Sep 27: The Supreme Court today struck down adultery as an offence, but noted that it could be a ground for divorce. Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra and Justice A M Khanwilkar observed that mere adultery cannot be a crime.

They also added that if any aggrieved spouse commits suicide because of partner's adulterous relation, then if evidence if produced, it could be treated as an abetment for suicide.

Married woman doesn’t pledge sexual autonomy to her husband: SC

Justice Nariman, who is also part of the Bench agreed with the CJI and termed Section 497 as an archaic provision. While terming it as unconstitutional, he struck down the section which is part of the 158 year old Indian Penal Code.

Also Read | Adultery not a crime, but ground for divorce says Supreme Court

Justice D Y Chandrachud writing the judgment for himself said that adultery is an offence as relic of past and added that Section 497 is destructive of woman's dignity and self respect as it treats woman as a chattel of the husband.

In a section of the judgment titled, 'good wife,' he said that in the most private zone choice is important and sexuality cannot be dissected from desire. Section 497 deprives women their choice about sexuality and hence it is unconstitutional.

Also Read | Husband is not the master of the woman: Supreme Court

He further added that woman after marriage does not pledge her sexual autonomy to her husband and depriving her of choice to have consensual sex with anyone outside marriage cannot be curbed.

Justice Indu Malhotra, the lone woman judge on the Bench also termed Section 497 as unconstitutional. She however said that adultery is a moral wrong.

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