In India, the infidelity law, generally typified in Segment 497 of the Indian Correctional Code (IPC), has experienced noteworthy examination and eventually been canceled. Segment 497, which criminalized infidelity, was long criticized for its sex inclination, treating ladies as the property of their spouses and as it were penalizing men included in extramarital undertakings with hitched ladies. This theoretical follows the urgent Preeminent Court choice in Joseph Sparkle v. Union of India, which considered the 158-year-old law illegal. Recorded by Joseph Sparkle, a non-resident Keralite, the request challenged the law’s legality, highlighting its biased nature and incongruence with advanced societal values. The Incomparable Court’s point of interest administering on September 27, 2018, emphasized that Area 497 damaged sacred standards of correspondence and individual freedom, undermining women’s independence and respect. The judgment underscored that infidelity, whereas ethically disagreeable, ought to not be criminalized, but or maybe treated as a gracious matter germane to separate. The abrogation of Area 497 checked a dynamic step towards sexual orientation balance and the acknowledgment of person rights inside the conjugal setting, confirming that life partners ought to be treated with common regard and not as each other’s property.

In India, adultery law is prescribed in section 497 of the Indian Penal Code. Section 497 has come under the jurisdiction of the courts many times in the past, but each time the Supreme Court has found Section 497 to be valid. But on September 27, 2018, in Joseph Shine v. Union of India, the Supreme Court has struck down the 158-year-old Victorian morality law on adultery. The petition was filed by a non-resident of Kerala named Joseph Shine, who questioned the constitutionality of Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code. This ruling overturned all previous rulings supporting the criminalization of adultery. Nowadays, adultery has become legal, but it is still immoral in society. The institution of marriage is based on trust between two people, i.e. husband and wife. Henceforth, the esteemed Supreme Court of India refrains from intervening in the private and ethical affairs of individuals. Currently, adultery is only considered a civil violation and the only remedy for adultery is divorce.
Article 497 stipulates: “Whoever has sex with someone he knows and has a reason to to believe that the person is committing a civil violation. is another man’s wife without that man’s consent or complicity. Such sexual intercourse does not constitute the crime of rape and adultery. fine or both.

Background of IPC Section 497
Questions have been repeatedly raised about the constitutional validity of Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 198 of the Code of Criminal Procedure before the Supreme Court of India.
It started with the case of Yusuf Abdul Aziz v. State of Bombay where the husband was charged with adultery under section 497 of the Indian Penal Code. But when the complaint was filed, the husband approached the Bombay High Court to verify the legality of the provisions of Article 228 of the Indian Constitution. The case was decided against the husband and Justice Chagla made an observation based on the presumption under Section 497.
Mr. Peerbhoy is accurate in asserting that Section 497 is based on the notion that the wife is considered as the husband’s possession. The fact that the offense can only be recognized with the husband’s consent emphasizes this point. It can be argued that Section 497 should have no place in any modern law. Gone are the days when women were treated as property by their husbands.
A challenge was filed in court only regarding the restriction on treating a woman as a co-defendant. The provision was said to violate Article 14 of the Indian Constitution, but the court held that the provision was protected by Article 15(3) of the Indian Constitution, which makes special provisions for women and children. This story of Section 497 clearly states that the law on adultery has always favored the husband, giving him the right to possess his wife’s sexual relations. Therefore, this article has never been in favor of women. The law states that anyone who has sex with another woman’s wife and the consent of that woman’s husband will not be considered as adultery. This clearly shows that women are treated as objects in the hands of their husbands.
There is another case of Sowmithri Vishnu v. Union of India, where challenges were brought before the court on three grounds:
Section 497 does not grant a wife the right to procreate with a woman with whom her husband has committed adultery. Article This article does not grant any rights to a wife to sue her husband for adultery.
This article does not mention the case of a husband having sex with an unmarried woman.
At first vview,it appeared that this article was of interest to women, but upon closer inspection it was determined that the terms contained provisions based on the assumption that women were like men’s property. In this case, Chief Justice Chandrachud held that by definition, adultery can only be committed by men and not by women. This case does not deal with the real issue, i.e. the aspects of constitutional jurisprudence that affect the validity of Article 497.
In another case, V Revathi v. Union of India, the court held that this section does not permit the husband of the guilty wife to sue her as well as the wife of the guilty husband for being unfaithful to her. Therefore, neither husband nor wife can file a complaint against their spouse for being unfaithful or insulting them. Therefore, this article does not discriminate based on gender.

Facts of the Case

Joseph Shine, the hotelier challenged the constitutionality of Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code. The core reason behind this petition was to shield Indian men from being punished for extramarital relationships by vengeful women or their husbands. Petitioner’s close friend in Kerala committed suicide after a women co-worker made a malicious rape charge on him. Further section 497 is an egregious occurrence of sexuality unfairness, authoritative imperialism and male patriotism. The traditional framework in which section 497 was drafted, is no longer applicable in modern society.


Whether section 497 of the Indian Penal Code is unconstitutional?

The petitioner wanted certain problems with section 497 to be addressed: –

Adultery law provides that man to be punished in case of adultery, but no action is suggested for the women. Hence, it made the gender neutral.

As per section 497, there is no legal provision that a woman can file a complaint of adultery against her husband.

According to section 497, if the husband gives his consent for such an act, then such act is no more considered as a crime. Therefore, women are treated as an object under adultery law.

Judgment of the Case

In December 2017, Joseph Shine has filed a petition raising the question on the constitutional validity of section 497. A three-judge bench headed by then CJI Dipak Mishra has referred this petition to a five-judge constitution bench which comprised of CJ Dipak Mishra, and Justices R.F Nariman, A.M Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud, and Indu Malhotra.

The court had observed that law is based on certain ‘Societal presumption’. In four different judgments, the court has struck down the law and declared that a husband cannot be the master of his wife. The judgment held the following things: –

Section 497 is archaic and constitutionally invalid

Section 497 disposes women from their autonomy, dignity and privacy. It is considered as the encroachment on her right to life and personal liberty by accepting the notion of marriage which overthrows true equality. Equality is overthrown by adopting the sanctions of the penal code to a gender-based approach to the relationship of man and woman. Sexual autonomy falls within the area of personal liberty under article 21 of the Constitution of India. It is very much important in a relationship to the expectations that one has from the other. When both spouses respect each other with equality and dignity then only respect for sexual autonomy is established.

This section denies substantive equality as it provides that women are not able to give their free consent for sexual acts in a legal order which considers them as the sexual property of their spouse. Therefore, section 497 is violative of article 14 of the Indian Constitution and it also violates the non-discrimination clause of article 15 of the Constitution of India. This section also lays strong emphasis on the consent of the husband which leads to the subordination of women. Hence it clearly violates Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

Adultery is no longer a criminal offence

A crime is committed against society as a whole whereas adultery is a personal issue. Adultery does not fit into the ambit of crime as it would otherwise invade the extreme privacy sphere of marriage. However, adultery can be considered as a civil wrong and is a valid ground for divorce.

Husband is not the master of his wife

The judgment focuses on the fact that women should not be considered as the property of their husbands or father anymore. They have equal status in society and should be given every opportunity to put their stance forward.

Section 497 is arbitrary

In the whole of the judgment, it was pointed out that nature section 497 is arbitrary. A husband can give his consent to allow his wife to have an affair with some other person. Hence, this section does not protect the ‘sanctity of marriage’. This section preserves the proprietary rights of the husband that he has over his wife. This section does not allow the wife to file a petition against her husband. This section does not contain any provision which deals with a married man having an affair with unmarried women.


The Preeminent Court of India’s point of interest choice in Joseph Sparkle v. Union of India stamped a critical move within the legitimate treatment of infidelity, viably decriminalizing it by striking down Area 497 of the Indian Corrective Code. This administering recognized the obsolete and oppressive nature of the law, which was established in Victorian-era profound quality and sexual orientation inclination, treating ladies as the property of their spouses. By announcing Area 497 unlawful, the Court asserted the standards of uniformity, individual freedom, and sexual independence revered within the Indian Structure.

The judgment highlighted a few basic focuses:

1. Obsolete and Invalid Law:

Section 497 was considered obsolete and naturally invalid because it confiscated ladies of their independence, nobility, and security.

2. Infringement of Sacred Rights:

The law abused Articles 14, 15, and 21 of the Indian Structure by denying substantive balance, propagating sexual orientation segregation, and subordinating ladies to their spouses.

3. Individual Issue, Not a Crime:

Infidelity, whereas ethically far from being obviously true, is considered a individual issue instead of a wrongdoing, reasonable as it were as grounds for separate.

4. Correspondence in Marriage:

The judgment emphasized that marriage ought to be based on common regard and balance, dismissing the idea of a spouse as the ace of his wife.

By disassembling this unfair arrangement, the Preeminent Court of India fortified the concept that ladies are break even with citizens with rights to their individual and sexual independence. The choice underscores the significance of advancing lawful systems to reflect modern societal values and the standards of sex correspondence. Infidelity is now not a criminal offense, adjusting the legal framework with the elemental rights and respect of people, whereas still permitting it to be tended to inside the gracious space of conjugal relations.

Frequently Asked Questions (Frequently Asked Questions)

  1. What was discussed in Joseph Shine v. Union of India?

The landmark case of Joseph Shine v. The Union of India has questioned the constitutional validity of Section 497 of the IPC read with Section 198(2) of the CrPC. The petitioner (Joseph Shine) and his counsel argued that such a law is inconsistent with the fundamental rights guaranteed to all citizens of. India, like the right to equality and privacy.

  1. What was the Supreme Court’s decision in the famous Joseph Shine case?

In this landmark case, the Supreme Court struck down Section 497, saying it was unconstitutional. The court found that such a section was biased and treated women as objects and women as the property of their husbands, thus violating the right to equality.

  1. Why Hon’ble Supreme Court struck down Section 497?

The Supreme Court Bench held Section 497 unconstitutional, arbitrary and capricious because it punished only men and not women for extramarital sexual activity; In fact, it stated that if a man consents to his wife’s sexual activity with another man, it is not a crime. All these things violated Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution of India.

  1. Will Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code be repealed?

Yes, the Honorable Supreme Court noted in the case of Joseph Shine Vs. Union of India which repealed or repealed Section 497 and decriminalized adultery.

  1. What was the penalty for adultery before article 497 was repealed?

Before section 497 was repealed, adultery was a crime punishable by imprisonment of up to 5 years, a fine, and sometimes both.

  1. Will there be new laws to replace Section 497 after it is decriminalized in 2018?

No, since the law criminalizing adultery was repealed, no new laws were passed. But decriminalization led to adultery being considered a civil matter (and one of the grounds for filing for divorce) rather than a crime.

  1. What were the main arguments of the petitioner against Section 497?

A lawyer for the petitioner thought that Article 497 violates several aspects of the fundamental rights (Articles 14, 15 and 21) and that it is an old law that was passed when there was no constitution and has no relevance in the modern age.

  1. What were the defendant’s main arguments in support of Section 497?

The respondent’s counsel argued that Section 497 is an offense which can even violate the institution of marriage, therefore such an act must be punished. The lawyer further argued that infidelity is morally repugnant and that all the culprits who commit such injustice should be held accountable. The Council also confirmed that Article 21 of the Constitution is not an absolute right and reasonable restrictions must be placed on it, especially in cases where the public interest is at risk.

  1. What was the point of making such a decision?

This important judgment reinforced the perspective of personal autonomy and privacy rights and thus concluded that the state has no right to interfere in the personal life or relationships of an individual, except in the case of a civil dispute.


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