Supreme Court Bench- Former Chief Justice of India Dipak Mishra, Justice A. Khanwilkar, Justice D.Y Chandrachud, Justice R.F Nariman and Justice Indu Malhotra.
Citation- 2018 SC 1676
Court- Supreme Court
Decided On- 27th September, 2018
Writ Petition (Criminal) No. - 194 of 2017
Petitioner- Joseph Shine
Respondent- Union of India
FACTS OF THE CASE:
A writ petition (criminal) 197 of 2017 was filed by Joseph Shine under Article 32 of the Constitution of India. The writ petition was filed challenging the validity of Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and also violating Article 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution.
Section 497 of the IPC deals with adultery. The procedure of the punishment is mentioned in Section 198 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). Before the matter was listed, a three-Judge Bench took the following case into notice- Yusuf Abdul Aziz v. State of Bombay (AIR 1954 SC 321), Sowmithri Vishnu v. Union of India ((1985) SCC 137), Revathi v. Union of India and others ((1988) 2SCC 72) and W Kalyani v. State through Inspector of Police and Another ((2012) 1 SCC 358). The case was taken over by a Constitution Bench.
Adultery law treated women as the property of her husband. It was noted by the Supreme Court that Section 497 does not contain under it the extramarital affair with an unmarried woman or a widow. While Section 198 of the CrPC deals with the person aggrieved. Section 198 (2) treats the husband of the woman as an aggrieved person but does not treat the wife of the person committing adultery as an aggrieved person. It was also noted that the section does not consider women as an abettor but protects her. The court, therefore, held that Section 497 suffered from the vice of Article 14 of the Constitution being manifestly arbitrary. The Constitution of India confirms affirmative rights for women and the said rights are perceptible from Article 15 of the Article.
As per the Supreme Court, Section 497 created invidious distinctions indignity of women and thus dent on their dignity. The Court noted that the element of connivance or consent of the husband tantamounted to the subordination of women. The Supreme Court held that they have no hesitation in holding that the same offends Article 21 of the Constitution.
As per the Judgement the contention of the petitioner were-
A law that denies women the option to accuse, isn't sexually impartial. Under Section 497, the spouse of a male that commits adultery, can't accuse her significant other of conjugal infidelity. This provision being ex facie biased against ladies and therefore Section 497 violates Article 14 of the Constitution.
Article 15(3) of the Constitution is an empowering arrangement that allows the State to outline beneficial enactment for ladies and youngsters and also some class of people. Section 497 is a punitive arrangement for the offense of infidelity, a demonstration which is submitted consensually between two grown-ups who have wandered out of the conjugal bond. Such an arrangement can't be viewed as a helpful enactment covered by Article 15(3) of the Constitution.
As for Article 21, an invasion of privacy by the State must be justified based on a law that is reasonable and valid. Such an invasion must meet a three-fold requirement as held in the case of Justice K. S. Puttaswamy.
Section 497 failed to meet these 3 fold requirements and therefore was stuck down.
The Supreme Court thus held:
(i) Section 497 is struck down as unconstitutional being violative of Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution.
(ii) Section 198(2) of the Cr.P.C. which contains the procedure for prosecution under Chapter XX of the I.P.C. shall be unconstitutional only to the extent that it applies to the offense of Adultery under Section 497.
It also overruled Sowmithri Vishnu v. Union of India, V. Revathi v. Union of India and others and W. Kalyani v. State through Inspector of Police and Another.