The constitution bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice Rohinton Nariman, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Indu Malhotra while reserving the verdict on August 8 had questioned Central government’s stand defending the adultery law for preserving the “sanctity of marriage”.
Taking the government to task for defending more than 150-year-old adultery law, the court made it clear: “We are not questioning the legislature’s competence to make laws, but where is the ‘collective good’ in Section 497 of IPC?”
The constitution bench had questioned the Union government how it preserved the “sanctity” when the extra-marital affair becomes non-punishable if the woman’s husband stands by her.
“Dichotomy is manifest (in Section 497)” as “husband can only have control over his emotion and cannot ask wife to do this or that”, the constitution bench had told the government.
Section 497 of IPC states: “Whoever has sexual intercourse with a person who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the wife of another man, without the consent or connivance of that man, such sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape, is guilty of the offence of adultery.”
The punch line of the hearing was when CJI Misra had said: “The sanctity of marriage was dependent on ‘mutual reciprocity’, willingness for adjustments and accommodations and “when we marry there is no permanent consent for sex” by the wife.”