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New Delhi, June 25, 2020
The Supreme Court has declined to entertain two review petitions filed against its verdict decriminalising adultery by quashing down the Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code
A bench headed by Chief Justice S. A. Bobde and comprising Justices R. F. Nariman, A. M. Khanwilkar, D. Y. Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra said: "We have carefully gone through the review petitions and the connected papers filed therewith. We do not find any ground, whatsoever, to entertain the same. The review petitions are, accordingly, dismissed."
An organization identified as the All Religious Affinity Movement had challenged this judgement.
On September 27, 2018, a bench comprising then Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justices Khanwilkar, Nariman, Chandrachud and Malhotra held that the penal provision violated a woman's right to dignity, which leads to the infringement of Article 21 of the Constitution.
The bench had also observed that the provisions had chauvinistic undertones and also the women were treated as belongings. The apex court had observed that it is necessary to scrap Section 497, which punished adultery. This provision allowed a husband to prosecute any man who engaged in a consensual sexual relationship with his wife.
Section 497 was challenged by Joseph Shine, who is an Indian settled abroad. Shine had contended that the law was archaic and if the law was to safeguard the inviolability of family, then both husband and wife should have the right to prosecute the cheating partner. Also, the sexual act could not be punished, if it were to be done with the consent or connivance of the husband of the woman.
In many countries adultery has ceased to be a crime - New Zealand, Brazil, Japan, China, Japan, Australia, the Netherlands, Denmark, France, Germany etc., yet it continues to be a crime in many countries in the Middle East and Africa.