HomeJoseph Shine v. Union of India AIR 2018 SC 4898



The constitutional validity of Section 497 IPC was challenged through the filing of a writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution.


Whether Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code is constitutionally valid?


Section 497 IPC; Article 14, 15, 21 of the Constitution of India.


Dipak Misra, one of the judges of the Constitution bench dealing with the case noticed that the Section treats women, not as individuals, but as the property of their husband as the section punishes those who have sexual intercourse with the wife of another without the consent of the husband. He points out that the section is illogical and manifestly arbitrary as it is supposed to protect women from being punished for adultery, but also does not allow women to initiate criminal proceedings against their husbands for adultery. Thus, he holds that it goes against Article 14 of the Constitution. Moreover, he also holds the section to be violative of Article 21 of the Constitution as it offends the dignity of a woman by treating her as inferior to men based on stereotypical notions of gender. He holds that adultery is better suited for a civil action and cannot be treated as a crime, as he considers it as an extreme intrusion into the matrimonial home.

Dr DY Chandrachud says that “Section 497 is destructive of and deprives a woman of her agency, autonomy and dignity.” He says that the Section enables suppression of women on getting married. He, too, concurs with Dipak Misra about the section being manifestly arbitrary by saying that Section 497 does not follow the morals which the Constitution follows. He goes on to say that, “Marriage in a constitutional regime is founded on the equality of and between spouses. Each of them is guaranteed with the same liberty that Part III guarantees.” He says that Section 497 IPC propagates subordination of women, and that is something that the Constitution, founded on the principles of liberty, equality and dignity, does not stand for.


Section 497 IPC was held to be unconstitutional on the grounds that it violates Article 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution and was thus struck down.

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