Landmark Supreme Court Judgment on Adultery Law: Striking Down of Section 497 of the Ranbir Penal Code

In a groundbreaking ruling by the Supreme Court of India, Section 497 of the Ranbir Penal Code has been declared unconstitutional, marking a significant step towards ensuring gender equality and protecting individual rights in marital relationships. The judgment highlights the need for laws to evolve with societal changes and sets a precedent for legal reform. This decision holds profound implications for the legal landscape, reflecting a commitment to upholding the values of equality and dignity.


  • Section 497 of the Ranbir Penal Code was declared as violative of Part III of the Constitution of India.
  • The provision was struck down due to its discriminatory nature and being against the concept of gender equality.
  • It was noted that adultery could be a ground for a civil wrong and not a criminal offense.
  • The court emphasized on the importance of gender equality and the need for laws to reflect changing societal norms.
  • The judgment aimed to uphold the dignity and rights of individuals in marital relationships.
  • The sentence ‘In such case the wife shall be punishable as an abettor’ does not exist in Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
  • The expression ‘In such case’ cannot stand alone as it lacks context.
  • No charges remain against the appellant under Section 497 Penal Code.
  • The appellant has been acquitted under Section 63 of the Army Act, 1950, pending confirmation.
  • The entire Section of the Army Act, 1950, is declared unconstitutional.
  • The contradiction between the Ranbir Penal Code and the Indian Penal Code regarding the treatment of wives is not significant.

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  • The appeal has been allowed in terms of the signed reportable judgment.
  • Pending applications have been disposed of.
  • Confirmation proceedings for the offence under Section 63 of the Army Act, 1950, are to continue and reach their logical conclusion.
  • The Armed Forces Tribunal judgment dated 08.01.2019 has been set aside.

Also Read: Contrary Directions in Issuance of Letter of Intent


Case Number: C.A. No.-003204 / 2019

Click here to read/download original judgement

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