Joseph shine vs. Union of India Case Summary: Adultery no longer a crime

Joseph shine vs. Union of India (Adultery no longer a crime) (2018 SSC online SC 1676)


A PIL has been filed against the provisions of Adultery by a non – resident of Kerala in October 2017. Shine filed a writ petition in Supreme Court of India under article 32 of Indian constitution challenging the validity of section 497 of IPC with respect to section 198 of Cr pc as the section describes women as the chattel or property of their husbands which opposes the fundamental rights under articles 14, 15 and 21 of Indian constitution. Shine contented that the sections violates the right of privacy. The petitioner also claimed that the provision is arbitrary and discriminatory on the basis of gender.


  • Absence of gender neutrality while prosecuting and punishing under sec 497 of IPC as it only punishes men in such cases.  Whether the provision for adultery is arbitrary and discriminatory under Article 14?
  • Under sec 497, if the offense has been conducted with the consent of the husband of the women who is participating then it is not termed as an offense. It clearly describes that women is considered as a property of man. Whether it encourages the stereotype of women who is being treated as a property violates under Article 15?
  • As there is a violation in the personal liberty as well as right to privacy. Whether the constitution is said to be declared unconstitutional under Articles 14, 15 and 21?
  • Whether the dignity of women is considered if she denies for sexual autonomy?

In the present day society, women are treated as independent while having their own identity and stand equal to men in every aspect. As stated above it is arbitrary and discriminatory in the provision of adultery as the provision only punishes and prosecutes men which is not acceptable in this present world. Section 497 protects women from being punished as she is treated as a property of men. If there is a consent of the husband there is no offense even though women denies which violates article 15(1).


The PIL is heard by five judged bench in Supreme Court.  The court struck down sec 497 of IPC and sec 198 of Crpc as unconstitutional as it violates article 14, 15 and 21. Thus adultery was decriminalised. But it will be remained in cases of divorce under personal law which is still considered as a private wrong. The court considered the issues raised by the petitioner while passing the judgement by decriminalising Adultery. Sec 497 of IPC is a pre constitutional law which was enacted in 1860. The criminal law should be correspondent to constitutional morality and ethics. Being violating the part III of constitution like liberty, dignity and equality of an individual sec 497 is opposed to constitution morals. The judgement is an initiative by the judiciary by strucking down the above sections in provision of Adultery as both the sections are discriminatory against women.

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