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SC strikes down law on adultery: Timeline


New Delhi, Sep 27: Declaring that adultery is not a crime, 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".

Supreme Court

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, holding it as manifestly arbitrary, archaic and violative of the rights to equality and equal opportunity to women.

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

The following is the chronology of events

Oct 10, 2017: Plea filed in SC challenging the constitutional validity of Section 497 of IPC, by an NRI from Kerala, Joseph Shine, who in his petition said Section 497 was "prima facie unconstitutional on the ground that it discriminates against men and violates Article 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution".

Dec 8: SC agrees to examine the constitutional validity of penal provision on adultery.

Jan 5, 2018: SC refers to a five-judge Constitution bench the plea challenging the validity of the penal law on adultery.

Jul 11: Centre tells SC that striking down Section 497 will destroy the institution of marriage.

Aug 1: Constitution bench commences hearing.

Aug 2: SC says matrimonial sanctity is an issue but the penal provision on adultery is apparently violative of the right to equality under the Constitution.

Aug 8: Centre favours the retention of penal law on adultery, says it is a public wrong which causes mental and physical injury to the spouse, children and the family.

Aug 8: SC reserves verdict on pleas challenging the constitutional validity of the penal law on adultery in the hearing that went on for six days.

Sep 27: SC holds Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code as unconstitutional and strikes down the penal provision.


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